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UCI Para-Cycling Track World Championships Competition Preview
Story posted March 10, 2011
GB Para-Cycling track team will face its first major test ahead of London 2012 at the UCI Para-Cycling Track World Championship in Motichiari, Italy, taking place on 11-13 March. The competition is the first opportunity for the British team to earn track qualification points for the London 2012 Paralympic Games under a new classification system and a lengthy break from racing.
British athletes will meet some of their biggest opponents for the first time since Beijing 2008 as a number of nations were missing from the Para-Cycling Track World Championships in Manchester in 2009, where Britain claimed 13 medals. Among British athletes competing for vital qualification points will be seven Paralympic Champions, a current double World Champion and a handful of promising London 2012 hopefuls making their World Championship debut.
The three day event will kick off with the Men’s C class Pursuits and the Men’s and Women’s Tandem Kilos. On Saturday 11 March the Brits will ride the Women’s C Class Pursuit, the Men’s Tandem Pursuit and the Men’s C Class Kilos. The final day of competition will see the Men’s Tandem Sprint, the Women’s Tandem Pursuit, the Team Sprint and the Women’s 500mTT.
FRIDAY 11 MARCH
We are promised an exciting start to the competition with a potential Battle of the Brits in the C3 Men’s Pursuit on Friday 11 March. The experience of six times Paralympic Champion Darren Kenny and Paralympic Silver Medallist Rik Waddon will be measured against the talent of Shaun McKeown who clenched his first Bronze medal at the Road World Championships in Canada last year.
Paralympic Champion Jody Cundy will also be riding the Pursuit for the first time in the C4 category before seeking to defend his World Champion title in the Kilo on Saturday and the Team Sprint on Sunday. Will three events prove too much for Cundy? World and Paralympic Champion Jiri Jezek, Czech Republic, will look to improve on his world record mark from 2009 of 4.40 and put pressure on the Brit.
Ex-RAF man Jon-Allan Butterworth, who’s making his World Championship debut in Italy, will also be riding the Pursuit in the C5 category. His main competition will be Michael Gallagher from Australia, current World and Paralympic Champion, who holds the World Record with a 4.37.
Women’s tandems will clash in the afternoon in the Kilo with Paralympic and World Champion Aileen McGlynn, undefeated in the event since Athens in 2004, looking to defend her title with new pilot Helen Scott. Lora Turnham, piloted by Fiona Duncan, will also ride in the event.
The Men’s Tandem Kilo will see the first reunion of Anthony Kappes and Barney Storey since Beijing 2008, where they won Gold in the event. Neil Fachie, who won Gold with Barney at the 2009 World Championships, will now seek to defend his World Champion title with a powerful new pilot Craig MacLean. Once again, we could witness a Battle of the Brits.
Jody Cundy in full flight during pre-competition training.
SATURDAY 12 MARCH
Paralympic Champion in the Pursuit Sarah Storey will be going into the competition with confidence on Saturday morning after clenching Gold in the able-bodied Team Pursuit at the Manchester Track World Cup last month, nearly breaking the current World Record. But she won’t be feeling complacent with the ever improving Anna Harkowska from Poland hungry for the top spot after a close combat with Sarah at last year’s Road World Championships in Canada.
Barney Storey will pilot Anthony Kappes in a new event for the pairing in the 4km Tandem Pursuit. Keiran Modra, current Paralympic Champion from Australia, will be a force to be reckoned with.
The Brits will clash again in the afternoon when Darren Kenny, Rik Waddon and Shaun McKeown will go head to head in the Kilo in the C3 category. Recent recruit to the team, Tel Byrne, will seek to see how close he can push Jody Cundy in the same event in the C4 category, while Jon-Allan Butterworth will battle Paralympic and World Champion Mark Bristow in the event. Can all five Brits make the podium?
Darren Kenny prepares for a start effort with Parac-Cycling coach Tom Stanton.
SUNDAY 13 MARCH
On Sunday Paralympic Champions in the Tandem Sprint Anthony Kappes and Barney Storey may go head to head with World Champion Neil Fachie, piloted by Craig Maclean on the steep bankings of the Montichiari velodrome, which would promise to be a thrilling race.
The Tandem Sprint competition looks strong this year with other nations adopting the same tactic as GB by recruiting former able-bodied sprinters as tandem pilots as is the case with Doug Baron from Canada and Jose Antonio Villanueva from Spain. More tandem action will follow with the Women’s Tandem Pursuit in which Aileen McGlynn and Helen Scott and Lora Turnham and Fiona Duncan will be up against strong competition from Karissa Whitsell, current World Champion from the USA.
Sarah Storey will look to defend her World Champion title in the 500mTT. Threatening the attempt will be Chinese rider Ju Fang Zhou, 2007 World Champion who was absent from competition in 2009.
Jody Cundy, Darren Kenny and Tel Byrne, who are competing together in the Team Sprint for the first time at world level, will be looking to round off the weekend’s racing in style.