Great Britain Para-cycling Team head coach Jon Norfolk was pleased with his team’s performance at the UCI Para-cycling Track World Championships in Apeldoorn, where the Great Britain team won nine medals; seven of which were gold.
Speaking after a final day of competition that saw his team win two world titles and one bronze medal, Norfolk maintained that the experience gained by his newer squad members was just as important as the final medal tally.
"Our longer-standing podium riders have extended their lead on the competition and it’s been a great opportunity to see some of our development athletes who are within stretching distance of a Rio medal performance,” said Norfolk, who became head coach for the para-cycling squad in May 2013.
Great Britain opened their account in emphatic fashion on day one of the competition in the Omnisport Arena, Sophie Thornhill and Helen Scott winning gold in the B kilometre time trial while Neil Fachie and Pete Mitchell matched them in the men’s event.
Dame Sarah Storey won the C5 500-metre time trial title with teammate Crystal Lane taking silver, while Jody Cundy retained his C4 kilometre time trial title, bringing the haul to five medals in one day.
Saturday saw another gold for Storey in the C5 pursuit before Sunday’s trio of medals swelled the Great Britain haul to nine.
The championships witnessed Steve Bate, Adam Duggleby, Jaco van Gass, Louis Rolfe, Lauryn Therin and Megan Giglia all make their debuts – riders with a collective wealth of life experience that Norfolk feels has revitalised the team’s DNA.
"They add a lot to the team on the track and off the track,” he said.
“They've got a lot of life experience as well as cycling experience as well so I think it's helping the team evolve and be a good place to be around, work hard and do well.”
And giving new riders exposure to the unique world championship experience alongside seasoned campaigners is part of Norfolk’s long-term strategy for the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio.
“They've picked up a lot of advice from the other guys,” he said.
"That ability to perform on a given day under a given amount of pressure and just learning to spend time with different athletes, working in different ways.
"To be happy sat next to a triple Paralympic champion when you haven't won a worlds medal yet and to feel that this your place and you've got just as much right to be here as everyone else.”
The squad returns to Manchester where the track specialists will take a break before focussing on their next major event, the British Cycling National Track Championships in September, while road-focussed athletes like Lora Turnham and Steve Bate turn their attention to the UCI Para-cycling Road World Cup season ahead.
"We're going to do a little bit of work on how we're going to prepare for Rio,” said Norfolk.
"We're very clear about where we need to go for the long term but we need to be able to enjoy training for the next month and the next month after that.
“So if everything's tuned into those small steps in a long term performance. I think that's the key.”