2019 has been a busy and mixed year for me, being a triathlete that dabbles in cycling it usually can be busy but I love what I do and find I am able to compete at a good level in cycling purely from my triathlon training.
Having worked with the HUUB WATTBIKE team over winter from a Para athlete side of things I aimed to hit the British Track Champs pretty hard for the Individual Pursuit (IP) to see if I could get selected for the Track World Championships. I was fortunate enough to use the Walker Brothers Ethereal Track disk wheels and have access to all the kit. I raced the British Champs being the fastest athlete in my class getting an IP un-official British record with a performance that gave me selection for Worlds.
Going to Worlds I was doing all my normal triathlon training with my coach Bex Milnes also coming out to support my swim & run sessions. I had no let up in my triathlon training and knew I could hit the power still without tapering my other sports. In Qualifying I had the second fastest time and got my spot in the gold medal ride off again the raigning World and Paralympic Champion. I went into the final with a bold approach of ‘go hard or go home’, however it wasn’t enough; but still… SILVER at a world champs in a discipline I have raced 5 times.
Transitioning the relationship with the track team over winter, I was able to ride for the team in the summer on the road in TT’s and transitioned (no pun intended) my learnings into triathlon.
Going into the Tri season I had good form and despite a mechanical in the first World Paratriathlon Series, managed to finis 2nd in Milan behind the Paralympic Champion Martin Shultz. I next raced a UCI Road World Cup in Belgium, one I had done previously on a course I knew well. With the extra upgrade packages of a Walker Brothers 88/disk wheel I powered to victory for HUUB WATTBIKE.
The next thing was the Tokyo Qualification window opening for Triathlon and so the next few races being important. We travelled to Montreal to hit the first race hard. With flying form I lead the swim, gained masses on the bike flying around the Canadian Grand Prix Circuit and had the best run of my career to just be pipped in the last part of the run by the rapid Stefan Daniel and Martin Shultz, the former running a 15:36 5km!!
The next race being the Tokyo Test Event I went to learn as much as I possibly could about the environment and course as possible, unfortunately the swim leg was cancelled due to e.coli levels in the water being too high moving the race to duathlon format. I suffer from a leg impairment whereas most athletes in my category have a below elbow impairment so the move from triathlon (where I usually get a gain in the swim) to duathlon meant I was at a major disadvantage to my competitors. With pressure off my back I enjoyed the course and pushed hard on the bike getting the fastest bike split across all categories (including all the tandems).
The last race of the year was to be the Triathlon World Championships in Lausanne where after I would race in the UCI Road Race World Championships. However with the unfortunate instance of being penalised on the bike leg meaning I had to take a 1min bike penalty loosing just over that in overall time. Along with that I lost my head a bit and didn’t have a great run so whereas I should have easily been within the top 5 in the race I finished 10th; my worst Worlds performance to date and not a reflection of where I am as an athlete.
With this performance I wanted to end the 2019 season on a better triathlon and so withdrew from the Cycling Worlds and competed on the same weekend in the Triathlon European Championships instead. Luck not being with me in September 2019 I punctured in the last 2km of the bike loosing a vast amount of time and running the technical last 500m of the course. So again finishing in a place not representative of my form.
Hopefully I have had all the bad luck for the next year (or two) from September and can show my full potential next year and in Tokyo.
Having the best possible kit is key for delivering at a high level and doing so with the support of Walker Brothers has helped me massively. Its down to fine lines these days within triathlon, to have the backing of such a good British company who have similar aims to me, of simply being the best, is amazing.