Great Britain picked up six medals on Day 2 of the Para-Cycling Track World Championships in LA, two golds, three silvers and a bronze. Iga Kowalska-Owen reports on British progress while Christina Kelkel follows Mark Colbourne and Jody Cundy’s medal quest. Iga Kowalski-Owen of British Cycling and Christina Kelkel report.
Pictures by Christina Kelkel
The second day of racing at LA’s Velodrome in Home Depot Centre proved dramatic and eventful for the British Team.
Mark Colbourne got off to a great start in the C1 3km Pursuit and posted the second fastest time (4:06.895) in qualification behind Spain’s Mendez Fernandez. However, the impressive track debut prompted a protest from the German team which claimed Mark should be in a different, less disabled class.
The protest led to Mark facing potential reclassification half way through the competition but he was eventually deemed to be in correct class by UCI classifiers and able to race in the finals. As if to prove a point, Mark went on to win the Pursuit in style by catching his opponent 2/3 through the race.
Stroking his World Champion’s jersey after podium presentations, Mark told us: “I don’t think it’s sunk in yet to be honest. Since first stepping on the bike two years ago I’ve had this dream (to become a world champion) and I didn’t know how long the journey would take.
“Today certainly means a heck of a lot to me and to my family and is a result of hard training, lots of efforts on the track and lots of time in the gym. Big thanks to my coach Tom Stanton for getting me to possibly the best year of my life.”
The other highlight of the day came from GB’s two male tandem pairings in the B Kilo. Defending Champion Neil Fachie, piloted by Barney Storey, lost his title to Anthony Kappes, piloted by Craig Maclean, by a mere 0.099 of a second.
Kappes commented after competition: “It was a close race last year when Craig was riding with Neil and today was very similar. At 1:03.013, our win was marginal.”
MacLean admitted the race was tough: “You normally feel yourself fatigued after about 2.5 laps but when it’s 1.5 laps and you start to blow the gasket, you start to panic a bit.”
“Conditions aren’t ideal out there and people aren’t going that fast. The track feels vastly different from Manchester or Newport,” he added.
In other events, Darren Kenny had to settle for silver in the C3 3km Pursuit final, Aileen McGlynn and Helen Scott could not match Australia’s world record braking pace in the Kilo, placing second, and Jody Cundy picked up a bronze in the C4 4km Pursuit.
Racing continues tomorrow with five GB riders competing in the 1km Time Trial and Sarah Storey in the Pursuit.
GB Medal Tally
Women’s C5 500mTT – Sarah Storey (PB & British Record) – Day 1
Men’s C1 3km Pursuit – Mark Colbourne – Day 2
Men’s B 1km Time Trial – Anthony Kappes, piloted by Craig MacLean – Day 2
Women B/Vi 3km Pursuit – Aileen McGlynn, piloted by Helen Scott – Day 1
Women’s B 1km Time Trial – Aileen McGlynn, piloted by Helen Scott – Day 2
Men’s B 1km Time Trial – Neil Fachie, piloted by Barney Storey – Day 2
Men’s C3 3km Pursuit – Darren Kenny – Day 2
Men’s C4 4km Pursuit – Jody Cundy – Day 2
More on Mark Colbourne and Jody Cundy’s progress from Christina Kelkel :
Mark Colbourne of Great Britain qualified second fastest in the C1’s 3km Individual Pursuit in a time of 4:06.895 to face Juan Jose Mendez Fernandez (ESP, 4:06.285) for Gold in the final. This is Colbourne’s first International track competition after making his debut on the road at the UCI Para-Cycling RoadWorld Championships five months ago and coming away with a strong Silver medal.
Before the competition Colbourne said “I only really started training on the track after the Road World Championships and it turned out my times were very workable. Since then, I have constantly improved, so I feel quite confident going into the competition now.” A former Volleyball player for Wales, Colbourne broke his back in a paragliding accident back in 2009 and now races in the C1 category for riders with most severe disabilities.
At the Track World Championships, Colbourne will not only be riding the 3km Individual Pursuit but also the 1km Time Trial. But with his background in Triathlon and endurance sports, it’s clear what he is most passionate about “I love riding the Pursuit! I can settle in, listen to my coach on the sideline and just enjoy riding my bike. I like the Kilo, but it’s all about power and with only 4 laps of racing, it’s all in. There is no room for error!”
In the final Colbourne got off to a very good start and managed to close in lap after lap on his opponent, finally catching him to take his first ever Para-Cycling World Championship Gold in his first International track competition! Colbourne said “I have come a long way after breaking my back in a paragliding accident in 2009 and I feel like all the hard work I have put in over the last 2 years is paying off now. It’s a dream come true and I can’t wait to tell my family later tonight!”
The day held mixed emotions for Colbourne, after his classification was challenged and he had to present himself to the classifiers between his qualifying race and the final for Gold. “I kind of expected this and always had it in the back of my mind. After all, it’s not common for a Paralympic Champion (Michael Teuber) to get overlapped in qualifying” Colbourne commented. However, after 2 hours of examination the commissaires confirmed his classification as a C1 so he was able to ride to Gold in the 3km Pursuit. “I am really happy all doubts have been cleared and I can now fully concentrate on the kilo tomorrow. I feel quite confident having achieved my first goal for these World Championships, so I’ll just enjoy the race tomorrow.”
Tomorrow will see Mark racing in the 1km Time Trial, which will be his final competition at these year’s Para-Cycling Track World Championships and also the last chance to leave a lasting impression with the GB staff before the London Paralympic Games.
Jody Cundy had a tricky start in the 4km Individual Pursuit after a Commissaire standing on the track in the back straight forced Jody to quit his first qualification run. Luckily for Jody, the UCI recognized its error and allowed Jody a restart – but it meant that he had no other rider to race against.
Nevertheless, Cundy rode a strong race finishing in a time of 4:55.958, which was good enough to place him third and into the Bronze medal ride off where he faced Roberto Garcia Alcaide (ESP) who qualified in a time of 4:57.622.
After the race, Cundy said “this was the hardest pursuit I have ever ridden and unfortunately not one of my fastest. I am still quite please though to have made it into the final for Bronze after having to start a second time. I came around the first corner and saw the Commissaire standing on the track, so I didn’t have a choice but to slow down and abort the attempt. There was very little time to refocus before my second qualification run and having no one to chase didn’t make things easier neither. But that’s just the way it was and I tried to make the best of the situation.”
This wasn’t the first time Cundy has been unlucky in Los Angeles after his road bike, used for training and warming up, got broken on the plane to America. “Luckily, the mechanics managed to temporarily fix the bike, but I will most likely get a replacement once I get back to the UK” Cundy commented.
Motivated by his unlucky qualification run, Cundy got off to a quick start in the Bronze medal ride and was well ahead of his opponent after lap 2. Quickly closing in on Alcaide, Jody didn’t waste any time and managed to catch the Spaniard in lap 5 to take the Bronze medal. After the race, Jody said “We had not planned to go for the catch so it was quite a surprise to have him in sight after lap 2. I was a little disappointed with my performance this morning when I was off pace, so we decided to change a few things and ride the same schedule again. We changed the gearing after the qualifying and without any distractions on the track, I could fully concentrate on my racing so I felt much better tonight than I did this morning.”
Even though Cundy did not manage to improve on his previous World Championships performance in Montichiari where he won a Silver, he feels confident that his result is a step in the right direction: “Ultimately, London is my main goal and I am still learning in the pursuit. It’s a very different event to the kilo but I am not a million miles off from where I want to be, so everything is pointing into the right direction. Of course, I would have liked to post a faster time in the qualifying as my time didn’t reflect my good shape at the moment, but it is all about the learning experience and we learned a lot today!
Cundy is now looking forward to his favorite discipline, the 1km Time Trial, in which he is defending champion and World Record holder. “I am in good form and I feel much more in control riding the kilo, but the track in LA is not as fast as Manchester or Montichiari, so breaking my World Record will be tough”.