Tandem pairings Steve Bate and Adam Duggleby and Lora Fachie and Corrine Hall both recorded their fastest pursuit times since the Rio Paralympics on day 2 of the Manchester Para-cycling International today.
Bate and Duggleby stopped the clock a second and a half off their own world record on their way to silver this evening, while Jaco van Gass, Will Bjergfelt and Kadeena Cox all won their events.
Fachie and Hall – the 2016 Paralympic champions – clocked 3:30.358 in the qualification round, their fastest effort since recording 3:27.46 on their way to Paralympic gold, to advance to the gold medal final.
There, they went quicker still, registering 3:29.178 to defeat Irish duo Katie-George Dunlevy and Eve McCrystal to take gold.
“We weren’t quite expecting to go that quickly – I’m quite shocked. We did a 3:29 at altitude at the world championships in 2014, so to replicate that at sea level, and to be just over a second off what we did in Rio just over nine months out from Tokyo is really exciting.”
Cox was also victorious, clocking 36.903, which was then factored to 36.578, to win the WC4-5 500m TT ahead of the Netherlands’ Caroline Groot.
“I wasn’t too pleased with any of that. I was a little bit disorientated starting on the back straight, so technically it was a bit of a scrappy ride, but my opening lap wasn’t horrendous, and I was in the same place this time last year. I’ll take it, as it’s the first time I’ve rode in a while and I’m just off the back of athletics world championships.”
Bate and Duggleby, who also won their event at Rio 2016, stopped the clock at 4:09.423 in qualifying, their best time since the 4:08.146 which helped their win their Paralympic title.
The quality of the competition meant that Polish world champions Marcin Polak and Michal Ladosz had to settle for a place in the bronze medal ride, while in the final, Bate and Duggleby took on Dutch pairing Tristan Bangma and Patrick Bos.
The Dutch road world champions made a strong start, and held a consistent margin of around two seconds throughout the 4km, registering a time of 4:10.393 to ensure that Bate and Duggleby had to settle for silver.
Van Gass followed up his kilo victory yesterday with an equally impressive performance in the MC3 pursuit, clocking 3:33.648 in qualification. That was enough to book him a gold medal ride against Belgium’s Diedrick Schelfhout, which he won comfortably to claim his second title of the weekend.
Team-mate Fin Graham claimed bronze, recording 3:38.429 to beat Stijn Boersma (Netherlands) – a significant improvement on his qualification time of 3:41.322.
Bjergfelt also claimed gold, in the MC5 pursuit. His quickest time of the day was the 4:36.070 he recorded in qualifying, before he beat Frenchman Dorian Foulon in a time of 4:40.069.
In the MC2 pursuit, Matthew Robertson was narrowly beaten to gold by Belgium’s Ewoud Vromant, but had the consolation of having set a new British record in qualifying.
Robertson dipped below 3:45 for the first time in his career, smashing his personal best to record 3:44.599 – the fastest time in qualifying. He backed that up by clocking 3:44.787 in the final, but Vromant edged ahead in the final laps to take gold.
Great Britain’s Louis Rolfe also recorded a new personal best on his way to bronze, stopping the clock at 3:45.933 before beating Frenchman Alexandre Leaute to claim third.
Megan Giglia was also amongst the medals, recording a time of 41.784 to win bronze in the WC1-3 500m.
The event also represents the national para-cycling championships, with the top British riders in each event claiming the national title. Along with Robertson (MC1-2 pursuit), van Gass (MC3 pursuit), Giglia (WC1-3 500m), Bjergfelt (MC5 pursuit), Bate and Duggleby (MB pursuit) and Cox (WC4-5 500m), Krispin Gardiner was crowned national champion in the MC4 pursuit.
Day 1 of the event saw victories for Jody Cundy, James Ball and Matt Rotherham, Sophie Thornhill and Helen Scott, and Jaco van Gass, while the event concludes tomorrow, with the sprint tandems returning to the track and Dame Sarah Storey set to compete in the WC5 pursuit, an event in which she is reigning world and Paralympic champion.