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2018/19 Season Kicks Off

The 2018-19 season started a few weeks back at the UCI London World Cup, a bit of a historic event within ParaCycling as it was the first ParaCycling competition integrated into an able-bodied World Cup, and hopefully the start of further events being integrated in the future.
First up was the team sprint qualifying, riding in the World Champion stripes alongside Louis Rolfe and Jon Allan Butterworth. Team USA had set the bench mark time, as we took to the track Louis got
us under way in front of the partisan crowd, Jon took us up to top speed on his lap, and then I finished the race off to cross the line in the fastest time of 49.925, just fractions of a second outside our gold medal ride from the world championships in March, and the perfect way to start our 2018-
19 season.
After a few hours break I was back on the bike, and in the start gate, racing the 1km Time Trial. The last time I’d raced the 1km TT in London was back in 2012, when I famously rode all of 10m and was denied a restart. Hopefully it would go better this time.
In a head to head heat with fellow GB athlete Jaco van Gass, I got a really clean start from the back straight and was quickly up to speed. As the laps ticked by, everything I’d been doing in training was kicking in, and I felt pretty strong, I crossed the line and looked up at the scoreboard to see my time, it looked like a 1:04 something, but the clock didn’t’ stop. It would take another 20minutes until the results were official, and I could finally celebrate, and the medal presentation could take place. Officially the time was 1:04.654, one of the best times I’ve ridden at sea level, and as a first kilo of the year, a great place to build from. Joining me on the podium were Christopher Murphy (USA) and Jon Gildea (GBR).
A quick drug test and back to the hotel for some food before it was back the velodrome for the final, the atmosphere was electric with approximately 4000 people in the stands, and with us riding for GB, 99.9% of the support was for us which was pretty special to experience that kind of support
again. We managed to beat Team USA in the final, although not quite as quick as the morning, we certainly had a lot to be happy about.
I hope that the powers that be enjoyed the ParaCycling events as much as the riders competing did, and this integration becomes a regular event.
Christmas is always a funny time for athletes, especially track cyclists, as it always falls slap bang in the middle of when you want to get some hard work done, but every year I manage to balance family life, and training as best as possible, and I believe I got some good work done during the
festivities this year and also managed not to over indulge too much.
This would be important as the next race on the calendar was the Manchester International ParaCycling, and this was during the 2nd weekend of January.
For this event I was going to be training straight through, unlike the World Cup where I’d rested and tapered specifically for. Having had some big sessions in the week prior to the competition it was going to be interesting to see how this affected my race and form.
Before the ride even started I had issues! I managed to snap my cleat on my cycling leg in the warmup. A quick panic remembering where I’d put my spare leg, and a quick change and I was all set. Thankfully I broke it with about 10mins spare.
In the start gate I had a proper brain fart and messed the countdown ahead of my start! Who would have thought counting down from 5 was so hard! By the time the gun went I was in completely the wrong phase of my start, and I felt like I was stationary for the longest time (it was only 0.44seconds,
but compared to 0.15 or so of a normal start it felt like ages!), before all of a sudden I was off. After which normality kicked in and I got on with the job of riding the Kilo! I felt pretty good through the ride, but as the last laps were kicking in I could feel the previous days efforts in my legs. I crossed the line in 1:04.614.
Surprisingly a little quicker than the London World Cup, and in less than favourable conditions, so really happy with the way things are going at the moment. I took the win ahead of Alfonso Cabello (ESP) and Jon Gildea (GBR).
The final day of competition and it was an early start for the Team Sprint. With Louis Rolfe out of the competition through illness we had a late addition to the team Matthew Robertson. Qualifying went surprisingly well, with Matthew setting a big PB on his opening lap and handing over to myself and Jon Allan Butterworth to finish off. We qualified in a very respectable time of 50.512, only fractions of a second outside of our time from the London World Cup. We were going to be up against the GB
B team as they had narrowly edged out the World bronze medallists Spain to qualify 2nd.
After the ride my coach realised that I’d been under geared, a silly error that rarely happens, but one of those little things I over looked by not checking my bike prior to racing like I do at every other
competition.
In the final, with the right gear on, Matty got us up to speed with another PB for his opening lap, I was quickly onto Jon and feeling really good behind him before making a run at him in the final
corner and into the final lap. The larger gear helped as I reached the final turn and acorss the finish line. WOW 49.844, we’d taken a big chunk of our qualifying time to take the win from the GB B team.
All in all it’s been a fantastic start to the 2018-19 season, and I’m looking forward to the national championships here in Manchester in 2 weeks time, before completing the run in to the World Champs in Apeldoorn March 14th -17th.

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