The Australian team for the 2017 UCI Para-cycling Road World Championships in South Africa (August 31 – September 3) is headlined by 2016 Paralympic gold medallists and multiple world champions David Nicholas (QLD) and Carol Cooke (VIC).
However, the 15-member team features a host of debutants including Victoria’s Meg Lemon (SA), and tandem duo Kieran Murphy (SA) and pilot Lachlan Glasspool (SA).
For Lemon, who is now based in Adelaide, this will be the first time she has pulled on the green and gold at a Road World Championships, after making her Track Worlds debut earlier this year in Los Angeles.
“It’s a huge honour to wear the green and gold, while I am a bit nervous about all the big hitters coming to these championships, I am happy with my preparation we have had,” said Lemon, who claimed World Cup gold twice in 2017.
“I cannot wait to see how I and the rest of the South Australian cyclists sit with the rest of the world and the learnings we can take away to get stronger, fitter and more tactical hopefully for the years to come.”
Lemon, who will tackle the C4 time trial and road race in South Africa, prepared for the race by training to the conditions in Adelaide prior to the team’s departure.
“I believe the courses have some inclines/hills so I am happy to use this to my advantage and I believe it is usually very windy in South Africa so lucky the Adelaide weather has been similar to help with practice,” said Lemon.
“I feel I have a good chance of being in the top five in the time trial and hopefully road race if I can adopt a more tactical approach rather than sit on the front.
“The world champion will be there and put on a good race, but if Hannah [Macdougall] and I can support each other and I feel we can get on the podium for Australia.
“Really it is just about experience, trying our best and enjoying the moment (well maybe after the pain of the time trial).”
For tandem duo Murphy and Glasspool, the pair can’t wait to finally put into practice their year of training.
“Lachy and I are both very excited about our Road Worlds debut and can’t wait to don the green and gold over in South Africa for some exciting racing,” said Murphy.
“It’s been a competition we have targeted all year so really looking forward to the opportunity to race with the world’s best.”
The time trialling specialists will be looking to carry their silver medal form from the Para-cycling World Cup held in South Africa earlier in the year.
“The TT courses are similar lap distances being 7.75km and we know that our back half of the race is our strongest so really looking forward to the 31km race with some very fast sections that will really suit us,” Murphy explained.
“The road race will be a very long 18 laps of a 6km loop which will give us plenty of opportunities to scoop out the course and hopefully plan a race-defying move.”
Like Lemon, the pair are making their road debut after medalling at the 2017 Track Worlds in Los Angeles in March.
“This year has been a great learning curve for us and South Africa will be no different,” Murphy added.
“While there isn’t any pressure for this trip we would like to continue our good form and finish top five in the time trial and hope to push for a podium.
“After racing our first international tandem race in thunderstorms over in Italy we will be hoping for better conditions during the road race and are looking forward to learning more lessons throughout the competition, aiming to finish in a strong position in the road race.”
And while the pair rely on each other for support, they have been overwhelmed by the support of the team.
“The culture and environment around the team is amazing, we are exactly that, a team,” Murphy remarked.
“Everyone is so helpful and it’s great to have seasoned campaigners like Carol Cooke around to share her knowledge and experience with us.
“Being around a team of so many inspiring individuals definitely helps us strive to achieve our best.”
Grant Nickel, H1 (NSW)
Grant Allen, H4 (SA)
Stuart Tripp, H5 (VIC)
Darcy Thompson, C1 (SA)
Darren Hicks, C2 (SA)
David Nicholas, C3 (QLD)
Kyle Bridgwood, C4 (QLD)
Alistair Donohoe, C5 (VIC)
Kieran Murphy, BM (SA) & Lachlan Glasspool, Pilot (SA)
Carol Cooke, T2 (VIC)
Emilie Miller, H1 (NSW)
Simone Kennedy, C3 (NSW)
Meg Lemon, C4 (SA)
Hannah Macdougall, C4 (VIC)
By Cycling Australia