Para-cyclists on time in Spain
West Australian hand cyclist, Nigel Barley, has broken through for his first UCI Para-cycling World Cup victory outpacing his H3 rivals to win the time trial on day one of the series round in Segovia, Spain.
Barley's was one of four time trial victories for the Australian team with the others coming through Victorians Michael Gallagher (C5) and Carol Cooke (T2) while in the C4 women's event Susan Powell won ahead of Sydney's Alexandra Green to secure a podium double for the team.
"The time trials are our major focus at this world cup because it gives us a measurement of the progress of the Paralympic team members," said Cycling Australia Para-cycling Performance Director, Peter Day.
"It was fantastic to see Nigel Barley break through for his first world cup win as he continues to improve on his good form and recent results, in the the run up to London," said Day.
Gallagher spearheaded the single bikes with a convincing win in the C5 event where he covered the 21 kilometre distance in a time of 25:17.42 to finish more than a minute (1:14.48) quicker than second place.
"In the C3 David Nicholas was fourth (at 00:29) but it's worth noting that the spread from second to fourth was less then ten seconds," said Day. "It was a solid performances from David when you consider the very limited training he has done recently due to a knee injury and a suffering a cold since he arrived in Europe.
"Sue (Powell) edged out Alex (Green) by a mere eleven seconds to win the C4 time trial after Alex was forced to finish the event on a flat back tyre," explained Day.
In the tricyle competition Carol Cooke delivered a commanding performance to win the T2 class race by 1:20.51 over the reigning world champion Marie-Eve Croteau from Canada who beat her at last year's world titles.
"Carol actually finished third overall in the combined men's and women's and based on the published factoring for London this would have have given her the gold medal," said Day. "It's still early days but it was a very positive performance for Carol as she continues her progress towards London."
"Today was one of those days that I have dreamt about, but today my dreams came true," write Cooke in her post race blog. "Come September in London I will be racing the men for one set of medals and although the race will be factored (handicapped) I still wanted to be as close to them in raw time as possible."
Fortunately for Cooke, who has Multiple Sclerosis, the soaring 37 degree temperatures had eased to 26 by the time of her race but the strong winds had not abated with a head and cross wind on the way out and a tailwind on the return.
"I put everything I had into the headwind section because I knew this was where it would be won or lost and I tried to not worry about what gear I was in but to make sure my cadence stayed high so that I didn't fatigue my legs," said Cooke. "But when I turned into the tailwind, I put the gears as high as I could (keeping the same cadence) and hammered home!
"I was completely spent at the end, couldn't really talk other than to whisper that I needed water and a cold wet towel, then continued with a warm down. I still had no idea where I had placed," she explained. "To my utter surprise I had WON and not just won but had smashed it."
Also on the podium overnight were Sydney's Simone Kennedy who was second in the 13 kilometre C3 and West Australian Claire McLean who finished third in the 21 kilometre C5 event.
In the C4 Tasmanian Ryan Hughes placed sixth. Stuart Tripp (VIC) also had a solid performance placing fourth in the 21 kilometre H4 event. Jarrad Langmead, was re-classified to ride T2, where he recorded the sixth best time. Australia's development squad riders were also in action with Alex Welsh 15th and Harley Quinlan 21st respectively in their H2 international debut.
In the tandem racing Bryce Lindores and pilot Mark Jamieson were tenth and in the women's event Brandie O'Connor and pilot Kerry Knowler recorded the 11th fastest time.
Racing continues over the weekend with road races for all classifications but Day says the main focus now is next week's test of the London Paralympic course.
"More results here in Spain would be good but the priority for our Paralympic athletes is going to Brands Hatch on Tuesday for the road course test day," he said. "They'll be aiming to get some good race kilometres in without overdoing it because we want to be fresh when we test out the London road race circuit."