Australia’s Para-cycling tandem teams will race for Nationals gold and a spot on Australia’s 2018 Commonwealth Games team at next week’s 2018 Cycling Australia Para-cycling Track National Championships.

The Championships will see the first green and gold jerseys awarded in Australia’s Track Nationals season, with National Champions to be crowned in the tandem time trial, pursuit and sprint, plus in the C categories, the individual pursuit and time trial.  

Tandems will also have a chance to gain nomination to the Australian Long Team for the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games by clocking a time trial or flying 200m sprint time under the performance standard.

In the women’s event, 2016 world champion and Paralympic bronze medallist Jessica Gallagher (VIC) has her sights set on another crown and a maiden Commonwealth Games selection. 

“I’m incredibly excited for Nationals,” Melbourne’s Gallagher remarked.

“There are few opportunities to race for Para-track cyclists and to know that Nationals is also our major opportunity to qualify for the Commonwealth Games is massive. It’s what we have been working towards so I’m excited to get out there and race.”

In 2016, Gallagher was piloted by Madison Janssen to win the sprint world title, a world record and Paralympic bronze. For her Commonwealth Games charge, Gallagher’s pilot will be four-time reigning under 19 National Champion and junior World Championship medallist Lara Tucker (QLD).

“Lara has transitioned beautifully into a tandem pilot, there has been a lot for her to learn in a very short period of time but she has embraced the changes and challenges,” said Gallagher, who revealed the pair are targeting a berth in both the time trial and sprint on the Gold Coast in April.

“Changing pilots is always a challenging part of being a vision impaired track cyclist. Each pilot is so unique in their skill sets and it’s my job to be able to adapt to that as stoker.

“Together with myself and our coach Glenn Doney from the Victorian Institute of Sport we have made rapid progress and it’s exciting to see where we will get to with more time together.”

In the men’s Tandem, Adelaide’s Brad Henderson will continue his charge at his first national team selection with new pilot Thomas Clarke (SA).

“Heading into next week’s Nationals is obviously exciting, but also with a little pressure with qualifying times being set,” said Henderson.

“We just have to execute everything that we’ve done in training, and give it our all on the bike and hopefully it’s enough to qualify for next year’s Commonwealth Games.” 

Henderson and Clarke are a relatively new pairing on the scene, having only commenced training just five months ago. However Clarke brings a Commonwealth Games bronze medal to the pairing after finding the podium with Paul Kennedy in 2014 at Glasgow. 

“Working with Tom over the past five months has been really good and we’ve seemed to find ourselves working well together well on and off the bike,” said Henderson.

“Tom’s previous experience piloting is definitely a massive advantage.”

The final line-up of teams will be confirmed prior to the Championships. 

In addition to the Tandem Championships in the time trial, sprint and pursuit, the C Championships will be held in the time trial and pursuit.

By Cycling Australia

Posted: 1/12/2017