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Thornhill happy with tandem progress

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Double world champion Sophie Thornhill says she and pilot Rachel James are going from "strength to strength" on the tandem.

Thornhill sounded out the warning to rivals ahead of the Newport Para-cycling International at the Wales National Velodrome this weekend.

The 18-year-old and pilot James won rainbow jerseys in the tandem kilo and sprint at last year’s world championships in Mexico, smashing two world records in the process.

“The partnership with me and Rach is going from strength to strength,” said Thornhill, who is visually impaired.

“The times are coming down and everything else is moving forward. We've been working really well together for the last few months.

“We've had a good period on the bike and hopefully we can show that and do ourselves justice and our training justice.”

The three-day meeting in south Wales comes ahead of March’s UCI Para-cycling Track World Championships in Apeldoorn, key to Thornhill’s aspirations of going to the Rio 2016 Paralympics.

As well as a rigorous training regime, Thornhill revealed the twosome have also tried out new equipment in the quest for gains.

“We're going into Newport as a selection event ahead of the worlds and we've tried out a few different things,” said Thornhill, who also won two gold medals for England at the Commonwealth Games with Helen Scott.

“We've got a new bike and we can sort of see how that's coming on, we've tried it in training and it seems to be going really well - we put it under race pressure and ourselves under race pressure.”

Thornhill and James could race the tandem pursuit in addition to the kilo and sprint in a bid to earn further qualification points for 2016.

“It's another opportunity to get a race under the belt and Rio qualifying points which is really important.

“GB have been doing really well on that front and hopefully we can continue to impress.”

Having only joined the British Cycling Paralympic Development Programme in May 2013, a determined Thornhill earned acclaim in 2014 with a series of wins on the world stage.

And she is keen to add to her growing medal collection in the coming months.
“Myself and Rach have been going quite well on the track and the times and lab testing have been showing that and hopefully we can just go out to Newport and perform.

“It’s our last chance to race in the rainbow stripes before the worlds again in March. Hopefully we can do them justice.

“It’s only eight weeks until the worlds so we've got to be confident in our ability and do the best we can.”

Reports, results and images will appear on the British Cycling website.

You can also follow British Cycling on Twitter @BritishCycling for updates.