UCI Newport Para-Cycling Cup

The weekend of 30th January to 1st February saw the UCI Paracycling International Cup return to Newport, Wales. This event was last held in late 2013 when I raced with Neil Rutter. It was a great event so I was keen to dust off my Matrix track tandem and race there again.

The 'beast' ready for action

The ‘beast’ ready for action

This time I was piloted by one of my regular tri guides, Matt Ellis. Whilst I’ve known Matt a long time, he’d never ridden fixed gear or been on a velodrome before…Words like ‘baptism of fire’ ‘thrown in at the deep end’ and other cliches would be uttered in Wales!

Prior to the event we tried to get practise tine at the London Olympic velodrome, but failed. That left us with little option but to go to the outdoor track at Welwyn in Hertfordshire and hope the weather Gods were kind to us.

Thankfully they were. It was cold and bright – as much as you could hope for in January. We had a really productive session, playing with our riding positions and practising the technical skills needed…standing starts, out of the saddle sprinting etc.

Matt getting used to the track

Matt getting used to the track

Newport would provide a different challenge though as the bankings are much steeper than Welwyn. Also there would be some top international competition!

Newport Velodrome with it's 42 degree bankings

Newport Velodrome with it’s 42 degree bankings

After a bit more practise in the warm up sessions, here’s how it went: –

1km time trial (Friday) – We had a great start out of the gate, but a loud noise from the bike (the sprocket tightening under load) distracted us briefly. We carried on and picked things up well but a combination of the higher speed and perhaps just trying too hard meant we struggled to hold a good line around the bottom of the track costing us a little time. We finished 2nd last beating the team from Sweden in 1.14.3 (Over 30mph). Good hit out ahead of the 4k though.

4km Pursuit (Saturday) – This was always likely to be our ‘best’ event as it’s a bit more endurance based. Mind you, we normally do races lasting over 60 minutes not less than 5 minutes. We had another solid start and actually clocked 1:15 for our first KM, so close to what we did the day before. We settled well and were riding a much smoother line around the track. Our lack of specific training probably showed but we held on over the last km for 4:54 minutes (another 30+ MPH ride) compared to the fastest in an impressive 4:22 (Holland). We were 2nd last having beaten the Greek team as well as the Swedes again. Progress!

200m Flying Sprint (Sunday) – We got to go home early so clearly we aren’t sprinters. In qualifying we were last over the 200m timed effort in 12.6 seconds. Bit disappointing as this meant we didn’t get to do the head-to-head match sprinting but we weren’t expecting much…had we qualified it would have been a repeat of 2013 as we’d face (and be slaughtered!) by Craig Maclean and Neil Fachie who are World and Paralympic champions.


Matt post race at the top of the track – love the hat!

It was a great weekend of racing with some top notch performances from some of the other teams. We had fun and enjoyed riding the boards of the Welsh velodrome. Matt did really well on his debut in what is a hugely technical sport. However, we’d have a lot of work to do if we wanted to be more competitive. We would both need to be fitter for sure, but to be fair this is winter training time for us triathletes and the cyclist’s are only a month away from their World championships. We’d also need a lot more track time under our belts and look at things like gearing, riding position and equipment in more detail…every tiny little advantage adds up significantly over the short distances covered in track racing (British Cycling calls this ‘marginal gains’) . Having said all of that, we did alright:-)

I’ve no idea when the Matrix ‘beast’ will get another airing…maybe the National track championships in September???


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *