James and Thornhill look forward to world championship debut

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Rachel James and Sophie Thornhill will make their debut at the 2014 UCI Para-cycling Track World Championships.

Coming just four months after their first competitive outing at the Newport International Paracycling Cup, the tandem sprinters will hope for more success in Mexico when they compete in the kilometre time-trial and match sprint.

Should James and Thornhill come away with a medal it would be another case of instant success, first showcased in Newport where the pairing won both of their events – despite having only ridden together for five weeks.

The fresh partnership came within a second of matching the kilometre time trial world record set by Australia at the 2012 Paralympic Games, an achievement Thornhill remains modest about prior to the sports biggest annual competition.

“The aim of Newport wasn’t necessarily to go out there and set fast times and win things,” Thornhill explained.

“It was to see what we could do as a pairing with only a very small amount of training. Now we’ve had five months on the bike we’re working a lot better together, times have come down a lot since then so to think that we can go even quicker in Mexico.”

James went as far as targeting the world record for the event, based on improvements made in training and the well documented speed of the Aguascalientes track.

“We’d definitely like to think the world record can be broken,” James said.

“Seven tenths off it with just five months of training, we’re definitely going better than we were back in Newport and obviously this is the fastest track in the world. I don’t know how much faster it’s going to be for a tandem out there, but…”

Such confidence has been founded through what Thornhill refers to as measurable improvements in both sprint and kilo events, trained for at Manchester’s National Cycling Centre.

“We’ve learned a lot in terms of sprinting; in the match sprint technical, tactics, things like that,” Thornhill explained.

“In terms of the kilo we knew what we need to improve on, that event (Newport) just confirmed it and we’ve been working on things like the endurance side of the kilo so to know we’ve improved on things like that is a good confidence booster I think.”

James summarised the feelings for both riders prior to the championships as “a little bit nervous but really excited”.

“We’ve had a good block of training leading into this so we can’t wait to get out there and see what we can do.”