Cycling: Japan keeps Crampton on his toes

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European cycling champion Matt Crampton believes his time on the bruising Japanese keirin circuit can help him beat Sir Chris Hoy to a place on Great Britain’s Olympic team.

Crampton has spent time racing in Japan since 2009, following in the footsteps of Olympic champion Hoy, who also once honed his skills at the famous keirin school in Shuzenji, Shizuoka.

Keirin originated in Japan, where it remains hugely popular, but the lucrative betting aspect of races makes it a far cry from the more sanitised International Cycling Union offshoot.

That rough and tumble suits Crampton, who will be looking to prove at the Track World Cup in London over the next four days that the experience he has gained has paid off.

The 25-year-old could find himself up against Hoy at the Olympic Velodrome, where he will ride for Sky Track Cycling while Hoy competes for British Cycling.

With only one keirin place at London 2012 on offer, the stakes could hardly be higher.

Crampton said: “I think I’ve got the tools to beat him. On my day, I should be there.”

Crampton won the European title in Hoy’s absence back in October, having spent another five months on the concrete tracks of Japan in 2011.

“There’s a lot more contact, you get good knocks around,” he explained.

“You’ve got to be sharp and it does keep you really sharp.

“It makes you more confident getting that whole racing experience. You only get a couple of World Cups with a team this strong. You get one World Cup and hopefully the Worlds, so the more races, the better.”