Monday 2 April 2012

Great Britain Para-Cyclists:The Road to London Ramps up!

Great Britain’s Para-Cyclists began their build up to the London Paralympic games with an endurance camp in Majorca
The recent world track championships in Los Angeles drew a line under the qualification period for the games. Points gained during this qualifying period would determine each nation’s team size. The Majorca camp signalled the start of the final phase in the process. For so long the Olympic & Paralympic games have been on the horizon, now, they are just around the corner.
Based at Santa Maria, some 20 km inland from Palma, the location offered a mix of terrain. Rolling hills, mountain climbs and quiet lanes winding through orange and lemon groves providing the backcloth to the hard work. Long road miles formed a large part of the nine day camp and the mountains offer the chance for quality. Of course, other boxes have to be ticked; speed work was done behind the scooter and extensive and intensive intervals on the fast flat roads, even turbo trainers were in use. Wind and heavy rain on a couple of days was disappointing but not disruptive.
London is obviously the focus but world cup events in Italy and Spain are important stepping stones along the way. Lead coach, Chris Furber gave his perspective “The camp marks the start of the final phase running into the Paralympic games. It’s a time for us to spend some time away with the athletes in order to formulate and make sure we have their phased plans right.To make sure they have all the detail in there and they are comfortable with it. It is also an opportunity to get the guys together to do some important road miles before the summer season kicks off for the road guys. From here most of the squad go on to a period of track work again, which finishes with a camp in May. For the road guys this camp marks the start of season really, after this comes the build-up to the two world cups in Rome & Segovia. The Rome event comes before the selection deadline on the 6th June, so there are opportunities for people to impress ahead of that date. The Segovia event is more about ensuring we have the preparation right going into the games. It’s about practising race strategy, practising tapers, practising warm ups, all those vital things that we will do before the games to make sure everything is in place and works before we get to London. It also gives us a chance to ensure we are getting it right from a staffing point of view, a dress rehersal for everything. The world cup events will also give us a chance to assess the opposition. In Para-cycling you get very few opportunities to actually see everyone. There should not be any shocks in terms of who is there but there may be some shocks in terms of who has moved forward. Traditionally in Paralympic year people will take time off work, perhaps put a little more finance in, nations do move forward quite rapidly in the final months leading up to the games”

The squad were focussed and relaxed on the camp; however film crews from BBC’s Blue Peter and Sky sports reminded them of the importance of 2012.

Even with all the hard work there was still time for a bit of fun!
Sarah Storey plays up to the camera
Fiona Duncan & Lora Turnham give a wave
Coach, Chris Furber joins the days ride!

Shaun Mckeown fools around

Words & Pictures, Eamonn Deane

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