Some of the world’s best para-cyclists will be fine-tuning their Tokyo preparations as the HSBC UK National Cycling Centre hosts the Manchester Para-cycling International this weekend.
Tokyo qualifying points will be on offer over three days of competition between Friday and Sunday, with the likes of Dame Sarah Storey, Jody Cundy, Kadeena Cox and tandem duo Sophie Thornhill and Helen Scott all set to ride in rainbow jerseys as the Paralympics come into ever sharper focus.
Storey will contest the WC5 individual pursuit, an event in which she is reigning world and Paralympic champion. She’ll face Great Britain team-mate – and 2018 world champion – Crystal Lane-Wright, and multiple Dutch world champion Caroline Groot, amongst others.
Seven-time Paralympic champion Cundy will compete in the mixed team sprint and the MC4 kilo, which he has dominated over the last decade. His fellow reigning mixed team sprint Paralympic champions Jon-Allan Butterworth (MC5) and Louis Rolfe (MC2) will be taking part in their respective kilos, while Rolfe will also tackle the pursuit.
There is plenty of British representation in the tandem categories, with Paralympic champion pairings Thornhill and Scott, Steve Bate and Adam Duggleby and Lora Fachie and Corrine Hall all competing over the weekend.
Thornhill and Scott, who added a further two world titles to their impressive haul this year, will face the last rider to beat them over a kilometre – Dutch Paralympic silver medallist Larissa Klaassen – who is piloted by Imke Brommer.
The men’s tandem sprint events will also provide some intriguing battles, with world kilo champion James Ball being piloted by Matt Rotherham, and world sprint champion Neil Fachie teaming up with Lewis Stewart. Also on the start line will be the imposing figure of Robert Forstemann – the German former world champion and Olympic medallist who now pilots Kai Kristian Kruse.
Cox – fresh from the world para-athletics championships – will contest the WC4 500m, while Great Britain’s Katie Toft (WC1) will also be riding in rainbow stripes as she contests the individual pursuit, 500m and scratch races.
A host of other Tokyo medal hopefuls will be competing in Manchester, including Ireland’s Katie-George Dunlevy and Eve McCrystal (WB), the Netherlands’ Tristan Bangma and Patrick Bos (MB), Germany’s Denise Schindler (WC3) and France’s Marie Patouillet (WC5).