James Ball and Matt Rotherham recorded one of the fastest tandem kilos in history as they won the men’s title on day 1 of the Manchester Para-cycling International this evening.
The duo recorded a time of 59.495 – just over two tenths of a second outside of the world record – to claim victory, while Paralympic champions and world record holders Sophie Thornhill and Helen Scott clocked 1:05.646 to win the women's event, and Jody Cundy and Jaco van Gass were also victorious as Great Britain took all titles on offer.
Ball and Rotherham finished ahead of compatriots Neil Fachie and Lewis Stewart, who clocked 1:00.759 to win silver, while bronze went to Dutch Paralympic champion Tristan Bangma and his pilot Patrick Bos.
Afterwards, Rotherham said:
“59.4 is an incredible ride – I think it’s something like the third or fourth best ever, so it’s well up there. The kilo is super hard – it never gets easier, you just get faster! It hurt, but it was good.”
Thornhill and Scott – whose world record is 1:04.623 – were comfortably ahead of the rest of the field in the women’s event, where Belgian pairing Griet Hoot and Anneleen Monsieur finished second and British pursuit specialists Lora Fachie and Corrine Hall claimed bronze as they warmed up for their favoured event later on in the weekend.
“It’s been a long eight months since I had my hip operation, and it’s taken a lot of hard work from us both. To come back and do a time like that – to match the time we did at the last world championships – is brilliant.”
Jody Cundy (C4) also displayed excellent form, clocking a 1:04.520 – 1:03.952 after factoring – to win the MC4-5 kilo. Cundy’s time was one of his best ever at sea level, and was good enough for victory ahead of C5 compatriots Blaine Hunt (1:06.498) and Jon-Allan Butterworth (1:07.516) who took silver and bronze respectively.
“I’m over the moon. Coming into this race I had no idea how things were going, I was a bit off the pace in training and was a bit worried about racing today. Coming over the line and seeing the time…it was way beyond what I expected it to be, so things are working well towards the world championships in Canada.”
Van Gass (C3) took gold in the MC1-3 kilo, stopping the clock in an impressive personal best of 1:08.273. His team-mate Matthew Robertson (C2) won silver after also recording a personal best time, of 1:13.433, which was factored down to 1:08.799. Frenchman Alexandre Leaute (MC2) was third in 1:13.931, factored to 1:09.266, while Great Britain’s Fin Graham (MC3) was fifth in a time of 1:11.062.
Van Gass said:
“I’m very pleased with the time. It’s a small PB, but a PB is a PB at the end of the day. I was happy with the ride – it’s lovely to have a bit of in-house competition; Manny rode a really good time, then with the factoring, it meant I had to do a 1:08, which pushed me. A bit of competition in-house is great, and it made me come out with a PB, which is great.”
The event also represents the national para-cycling championships, with the top British riders in each event claiming the national title. Along with van Gass (MC3 kilo), Thornhill and Scott (mixed tandem kilo) and Cundy (C4 kilo) Robertson (MC1-2 kilo) and Hunt (C5 kilo) were also crowned national champions.
The Manchester Para-cycling International continues tomorrow, with the endurance tandem events seeing British Paralympic champion duos Lora Fachie and Corrine Hall and Steve Bate and Adam Duggleby take to the track, while Kadeena Cox will compete in the WC4-5 500m time trial.