Great Britain’s Para-Cycling Team wrapped up the Para-Cycling Track World Championship with 8 golds, 7 silvers and 2 bronzes. First Iga Kowalska-Owen of British Cycling and the Christina Kelkel tell the story of the last day of competition in Los Angeles.
Great Britain has topped the medal table at LA’s Para-Cycling Track World Championships (9-12 February) with eight gold, seven silver and two bronze medals.
The final day of competition in LA was a mixed bag for the British Team. Both Men’s Tandems breezed through qualification – Kappes/MacLean posted a new WR (10.032) – and through the quarter finals.
GB’s plan was to place 1st and 2nd on the podium and have a battle of the Brits in an electric final but Barney Storey was taken ill after the morning session and had to withdraw from competition, leaving GB with just one men’s tandem to race.
The pairing of Kappes and MacLean went on to win the Sprint in style and the outcome of both the semi final and the final was decided with just two matches each time.
The new line-up of Darren Kenny, Sarah Storey and Jody Cundy, qualified first in the Team Sprint final, but could not match China’s impressive pace in the final. Until today GB has been unbeaten in the event since 2007, so the silver came as a shock to the team made up of multiple Paralympic Champions.
There was also silver for GB’s McGlynn and Scott in the Women’s Tandem Sprint.
The Championships in LA were a track dress rehearsal for the London Paralympic Games and GB’s final opportunity to score qualification points which will determine the size of the team for London.
The competition asserted Britain’s dominance in the Kilo and the Men’s Tandems and revealed the true potential of GB’s Mark Colbourne, who made a brilliant track debut with a win in the C1 Pursuit and silver in the C1 Kilo. However, it has also shown that more work is needed if GB is to dominate in London as the level of competition has moved on considerably since Montichiari last year.
“We knew the standard here was going to be high but it’s been tougher than we expected,” said Lead Coach Chris Furber referring to the performances of Australia, Ireland and China.
“It’s been a bit of a wake-up call for some riders and we’ve got to work really hard between now and the Games to stay in front where we are in front and get in front where we’re not,” he continued.
Furber alluded to possible changes to GB’s strategy for London: “We now need to look at the data to see if we can spread ourselves more thinly across more events or whether it’s within our best interest to focus on one event.
He added: “I know I would rather go away with one gold medal than two silvers and riders will feel exactly the same.”
Furber concluded “However, we are in the medal mix and that’s really important because if you’re in the medal mix here, you’re going to be competitive in London. From that point of view (17 medals) we’ve done very well.”
The GB Para-Cycling Team will now shift its focus to the road in preparation for the Para-Cycling Road World Cup series before preparations for the track take centre stage again nearer the Games.
Great Britain Medal Tally
C1 3km Pursuit – Mark Colbourne – Day 2
B 1km Time Trial – Anthony Kappes, piloted by Craig MacLean – Day 2
C3 1km Time Trial – Darren Kenny – Day 3
C4 1km Time Trial – Jody Cundy – Day 3
C5 1km Time Trial – Jon-Allan Butterworth – Day 3
B/Vi Sprint – Anthony Kappes, piloted by Craig MacLean – Day 4 (WR in qualification)
C5 500mTT – Sarah Storey (PB & British Record) – Day 1
C5 3km Pursuit – Sarah Storey – Day 3
B 1km Time Trial – Neil Fachie, piloted by Barney Storey – Day 2
C3 3km Pursuit – Darren Kenny – Day 2
C1 1km Time Trial – Mark Colbourne – Day 3
B/Vi 3km Pursuit – Aileen McGlynn, piloted by Helen Scott – Day 1
B 1km Time Trial – Aileen McGlynn, piloted by Helen Scott – Day 2
B/Vi Sprint – Aileen McGlynn, piloted by Helen Scott – Day 4
Team Sprint – Darren Kenny, Sarah Storey, Jody Cundy – Day 4
C4 4km Pursuit – Jody Cundy – Day 2
C1 1km Time Trial – Shaun McKeown – Day 3
Our final report from Jody Cundy camp insider Christina Kelkel
The final day of the competition saw Jody Cundy racing in the Mixed Team Sprint alongside Darren Kenny and Sarah Storey. The GB team started into the competition as defending Champions and World Record holders, however a rule change after last year’s World Championships – allowing fewer points per team – had forced the British coaches to reorganise their Team Sprint line-up. So today’s race was “a complete mystery” as Cundy put it before the competition.
Tension was on after the Chinese posted a time of 51.152 but GB’s Darren Kenny got the team off to a great start. With Sarah losing a little bit of time on lap two however, it was down to Cundy to secure GB a ride in the final – and he did just that crossing the line in 51.114, only .038 ahead of China.
With both teams that close, it was obvious that the final for Gold would be a tough one for Darren, Sarah and Jody. And disaster stroke at the start of the first lap already, when Storey slipped through the attachment on her handlebar, which she uses to compensate fo
r the lack of grip caused by her disability. Sarah said “I slipped out of it in the first banking which gave me an even bigger gap on Darren than this morning. The one thing that has never happened before happened today, which is very annoying.”
Having issues with her handlebars, Storey struggled to get onto Kenny’s wheel and more importantly into his slipstream. Unsurprisingly then, Great Britain was down after lap two and it was down to Cundy again to try to make up the lost time. Unfortunately for him though, the damage was already done and the time gap too big to make up, so the GB team had to settle for Silver in a time of 51.175 behind the Chinese who rode a 50.564 – the first time since 2007 that Great Britain has not won the Team Sprint title.
After the race, Cundy said “We gave it all, but we lost to the better team today. Unfortunately, we had some issue with Sarah’s handlebar attachment, which had a deadly knock on effect. She lost Darren’s wheel so she didn’t get the benefit of his slipstream and as a result faded more towards the end of her lap. As a consequence, the delivery speed dropped so my lap wasn’t as fast as it could have been neither.”
Looking at the positives, Storey commented, “We rode the same time (as in the qualifying) with a problem, and that problem cost us a lot of time. However, it would be worse to come away from this situation knowing there was nothing we could do, but we’ve got so many things that we can do now.”
One of these things will be to add more Team Sprint training into their programs, as Cundy explained, “I think if we had practiced more, we could have been better. Maybe we have been a bit complacent with the Team Sprint because we’ve always won it comfortably, but we literally did our trial and no practice. Effectively, we had only done one training session in this line up, so it’s probably our own fault for not practicing.”
However, Cundy and the rest of the team feel confident that they can win back the Team Sprint crown in London. He said: “We’ve got a lot of things technically, that we can pick up easy, free speed. The Team Sprint race has been a lot more competitive than we expected, but we’re not a million miles off from where we were last year and from where we need to be right now. I don’t think we’re out of this at all, I think we’re in a strong place for London.”
Although these World Championships have not been his most successful, Cundy emphasized the fact that the London Paralympic Games are his main focus for 2012 “We have been working incredibly hard, but there is still a lot more work to do for London. I’ve defended my Kilo title and picked up a silver and a bronze in the team sprint and pursuit, so I can’t complain. What has been really amazing though is the support myself and the team have been getting from the fans back home! I’d like to say thank you to all of you, it really does mean a lot to me and I can’t wait to get to London and perform in front of a home crowd!”
Cundy will now enjoy a brief holiday with his family in Los Angeles, before returning to the UK and starting his intensive preparations in the run up to the Paralympic Games.