New Zealand will be seeking precious metal on day two of the UCI Para-Cycling Road World Championships tomorrow in the Canadian city of Baie-Comeau, spearheaded by Invercargill-based London 2012 triple medallists Phillipa Gray and her pilot Laura Fairweather.
The pair landed gold and bronze medals on the track at last year's Paralympics and completed the full set by winning silver on the road in the B time trial for visually impaired cyclists.
Expectations will be high of a return to the podium in the same discipline tomorrow in Quebec after the talented duo tuned up for the World Championships with an encouraging silver medal performance earlier this month in the UCI Para-Cycling World Cup event in Matane, Canada.
New Zealand hopes in the B time trial are further bolstered by the rookie tandem pairing of Emma Foy and Gabrielle Vermunt, who finished fourth - just 10 seconds behind Gray and Fairweather - in Matane.
Wellington-based Foy, who was only introduced onto the programme in February, has made a big impact on the international scene along with her sighted pilot Vermunt and the pair will be pursuing a podium finish in the 25.9km long event.
Also in action for New Zealand on Saturday is the evergreen three-time Paralympian Fiona Southorn in the 17.3km C5 time trial.
The 45-year-old from Waipu secured bronze in the individual pursuit and also placed fifth in the road time trial at the London Paralympics and is not without medal chances.
She backed up her fifth-place finish in the British capital by repeating that performance at her most recent outing at the World Cup event in Matane.
On the opening day of action in Baie-Comeau overnight, a relatively inexperienced trio of Kiwi handcyclists - two of whom were making their World Championship debuts - found the competition tough.
Former Paralympic tennis player Tiffiney Perry finished eighth in a time of 43:54.59 in the 17.3km women's H2 time trial.
The 44-year-old from Hamilton finished more than nine minutes down on Marianna Davis of the United States, who landed triple gold at the London Paralympics.
Elsewhere, Auckland-based Brendon Stratton finished 10th in the men's H3 time trial event in his maiden World Championship appearance.
A former wheelchair basketball player, Stratton covered the 17.3km course in 31:43.64 more than three-and-a-half minutes down on Rafal Wilk, the gold medallist from Poland.
The third and final competing New Zealand cyclist on day one, Timothy Williams, found it hard going on his World Championship debut.
The former rugby hooker who broke his neck following an accident in a scrum aged 19, wound up 12th in the men's H1 time trial event in 57:33.05.
However, Williams, who only seriously started bike racing last year and receives financial support from the New Zealand Rugby Foundation, will benefit from the experience.
The trio of Kiwi handcyclists will all return to action in their respective road races on day three of the championships on Sunday.
- © Fairfax NZ News