ACE cyclists, Njisane Phillip, Nicholas Paul and Keron Bramble continue their quest to Olympic qualification when they face the starter at the International Cycling Union (UCI) World Cup Men’s Team Sprint event from 7.20am (TT time) on Friday.
The energetic trio lines up in heat seven of 16 and must produce one of the top-eight fastest times if they are to progress. TT will battle for a spot in the next round against 12 nations (Kazakhstan, Japan, Belarus, Spain, China, Australia, Czech Republic, New Zealand, Russian Federation, Poland, Germany and France) and three UCI teams.
Led by the experience of two-time American Olympic medallist and veteran cycling coach, Erin Hartwell, the national unit, inclusive of Kwesi Browne, is raring to go. The squad’s short-term goal over the next three weeks – China (November 29 – December 1), New Zealand (December 6-8) and Australia (December 13-15) – is to secure a historic spot for TT in the Men’s Team Sprint and use these World Cups as elite training platform.
Speaking to TT Cycling Federation president, Larry Romany, on Wednesday, he indicated the team is in high spirits and eager to grace the Hong Kong Velodrome track.
“I spoke to the guys on Wednesday morning and they’re maintaining a positive mindset. The hope is that in one of the three World Cups we can win the Team Sprint. As it stands right now, we’re in a pretty good position. Once we can maintain position six or higher, it will hold us firm for Olympic qualification to Tokyo. That’s’ the aim, to stay high up enough to get sufficient points to continue on towards the World Championships and then Tokyo,” said a confident Romany.
On Saturday, Browne returns to national duty after sustaining multiple injuries during a harrowing crash in the Men’s Keirin repechage at the 2019 Pan Am Elite Track Cycling Championships in September. Browne lines up once more in his pet event while Men’s Flying 200m world record holder, Nicholas Paul (9.1 seconds) and two-time Olympian, Njisane Phillip, gear up for Sunday’s Men’s Sprint qualification.
Having dominated proceedings at this year’s Pan American Games and Track Cycling Championships, the squad has proven to be a cut above the rest in the western hemisphere. However, the following three weeks of racing is expected to provide the national unit with a more daunting competitive challenge.
Cycling powerhouses such as Germany, Japan, Netherlands, France, Spain, New Zealand and Poland are destined to pose an even greater threat to the four-man team. Romany though, welcomed this heightened level of opposition as it serves to be a suitable competitive gauge going ahead.
“They have put down world class times in the last six months and are expected to get better. It’s good that they have the competition they’re about to face because countries like Australia and New Zealand are world contenders,” he added.
And although Paul currently holds the Men’s Flying 200m world record (9.1 seconds), Romany believes his participation against some of the globe’s finest sprinters will auger well for his athletic development.
“It’s a good that Nicholas is going to get that kind of experience in sprinting so that he could meet those guys now and over the next three World Cups, get more international experience to see what he’s up against. Sprinting is about knowing your competitor and having experience in the different strategies that would be used against you. I see this as great competition for him to build on before the Olympic Games,” Romany concluded.