Cycling: Briton Killeen used to going it alone

LONDON Mon Aug 6, 2012 1:41pm EDT

Liam Killeen of Britain competes in the men's cross-country mountain bike cycling competition at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games August 23, 2008. REUTERS/Tim Wimborne

Liam Killeen of Britain competes in the men's cross-country mountain bike cycling competition at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games August 23, 2008.

Credit: Reuters/Tim Wimborne

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LONDON (Reuters) - Mountain biker Liam Killeen could be excused for feeling a little left out.

The 30-year-old veteran of two previous Games has watched British cycling scale new heights over the past month, with Bradley Wiggins' Tour de France triumph sparking a gold rush for the road and track teams at the London Olympics.

Wiggins, who went on to win the Olympic time trial, and the likes of track winners Victoria Pendleton and Chris Hoy are in huge demand for interviews and public appearances but, so far, the spotlight has stayed away from Killeen.

He must wait until virtually the final hours of the Games before he gets the chance to join the party, with the men's cross-country race at Hadleigh scheduled for Sunday afternoon.

On Monday, Team GB announced a press conference with Killeen at the sprawling building that houses thousands of the world's media, all hungry for tidbits of information.

Only three turned up to listen to Killeen's thoughts.

"The previous two Games I've been two, the mountain bikes has always been on the last weekend," Killeen, whose medal hopes in Beijing were wrecked by a heavy crash just 150m into the race, told his tiny audience.

"Personally I don't crave the spotlight. I will do whatever I can to achieve a great result.

"But whatever happens to me, I think the mountain bike race will be a great spectacle for the sport. There are going to 20,000 spectators there and hopefully that will inspire a few more riders to the sport."

Killeen will be the only Briton in the men's race and will have no team mates backing him up as he tackles the daunting purpose-built course overlooking the Thames Estuary which contains features such as Triple Trouble and The Breathtaker.

"The Swiss riders will be working for each other," he said. "I just have to do what I can do. There won't be any team tactics as far as what I can do.

"It's not such an advantage to be part of a team in mountain biking, but the weather can be a factor. If it's windy you could use a team mate's back wheel for some shelter.

"That can make a difference in the last few laps."

Should he take gold on Sunday, hours before the closing ceremony, Killeen might attract a little more attention with 20,000 fans expected at the men's and women's races this weekend.

(Editing by Ed Osmond)

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