No rest for top cyclists
There will barely be time for New Zealand's para-cyclists to unpack from a successful world track championship campaign before their next overseas assignment.
The six-strong New Zealand track team won five medals at Aguascalientes in Mexico and began arriving home yesterday but, in less than a month, the focus will switch to an equally exotic-sounding location, the Italian town of Castiglione della Pescaia, for a world cup road race and a bid to earn more qualification points.
For Invercargill pilot rider Kylie Young, the 3km pursuit silver and 1km time trial bronze medals she won along with stoker Phillipa Gray was a kind of redemption after she missed out on competing at the London Paralympics.
"It was good to get one under the belt. It was great for the team, probably higher than we were targeting in terms of [qualification] points."
The decision had previously been made to split up the successful tandem of pilot Laura Fairweather and Gray to build more depth in the tandem programme. Invercargill pilot rider Gabby Vermunt is also involved in the setup and there could be three tandems competing in Italy.
Riding against Fairweather and Emma Foy for the world title in the 3km pursuit in Mexico had been a great experience, Young said.
"Obviously, coming up against the other tandem in the final was pretty cool but disappointing to lose as well. At the end of the day, you'd rather lose to one of your best mates than another country, and to have a New Zealand one-two was pretty cool."
The New Zealand team had to cope with racing at altitude and temperatures climbing to 45 degrees Celsius in Aguascalientes.
It got so hot that the ice vests being used by the New Zealand team for recovery started to melt.
"It was pretty intense. We had done quite a bit of altitude work at Snow Farm for about 10 days and then some lab work at the SIT, so we were well prepared but it was very difficult," Young said.
"It was actually easier at altitude than it was in the SIT labs, because my lips weren't turning blue and I didn't have to wear a mask."
The Southland Times