Great Britain Cycling Team’s Sophie Thornhill is ready to take on the Dutch on home soil at the UCI Para-cycling Track World Championships, taking confidence from a fairytale 2014 competition when she won two world titles and broke two world records on her world championships debut.
Thornhill competes in the B classification due to a visual impairment that she has had since birth and was catapulted to stardom a year ago in Mexico, in an event that only made it onto the UCI calendar at the eleventh hour.
"The worlds last year was a whirlwind,” said Thornhill as she prepared for her second world championships in Apeldoorn, Netherlands from 26-29 March.
“We didn't know we were going to have a worlds until three months before they were happening.
"We just got out there and raced what we could race”, continued the 19-year-old from Poynton, Cheshire, who only joined the Great Britain Cycling Team’s Paralympic Development Programme in May 2013.
Thornhill, piloted on the tandem by Rachel James, not only took two world titles, but broke the world record in the kilometre time trial in a time of 1.05.912 and the 200-metre time trial with 10.854 at altitude in Aguascalientes.
"We had no expectations - it was our first proper international competition. We didn't know where we were going to be in the world,” said Thornhill, whose cycling career was influenced by Beijing Paralympic gold medallist and family friend Anthony Kappes.
"We knew we were going to be up there, looking at people's times but we didn't know we could actually win it.”
But ‘up there’ Thornhill and James most certainly were and the Commonwealth Games later in 2014 showed that Thornhill’s world titles were no fluke.
Partnered with Helen Scott in Glasgow, she added Commonwealth gold in the kilo and sprint to her palmares.
The Newport Para-cycling International at the end of January gave in indication of Thornhill’s pre worlds form and that of her opposition, There Thornhill, partnered by Rachel James, took kilometre time trial silver behind the Netherlands’ Larrisa Klaassen and Haleigh Dolman.
But the winning partnership from Glasgow will be reprised on the boards of the Omnisport Apeldoorn velodrome and Thornhill is confident of more success, while still a little dazed with the speed of her progression.
"It does give me confidence to know that I have actually done it. Going into this year's world championships it is possible to become world champion because I've done it before,” she said.
“But it is a bit weird looking back at it because it happened so quickly. It happened in the space of 18 months.
“It was such a quick turnaround that I think that's why I look back and think 'I don't know whether I did it or not’.”
The UCI Para-cycling Track World Championships take place in Apeldoorn, Netherlands from 26-29 March. Live reports, results, images and reaction will appear on the British Cycling website.