Day two of the 2018 Para-cycling Track Nationals was an all-tandem affair as the program turned to the sprints.

With two riders driving the pedals, the speeds reached by the tandems can match those of the able-bods over the flying 200m. Whilst conditions were not perfect for fast times, with a humidity of 57% and air pressure of 1020 making it a slog for the teams, competition among the women was hot. 

Jessica Gallagher (VIC) piloted by Lara Tucker (QLD) took the top ranking into the sprint rounds with a narrow 0.07 advantage over the  South Australian pair of Rachel Henderson and Isabella Dashorst (pilot), with a time of 11.563.    

Evergreen ACT athlete Lindy Hou with pilot Kerry Knowler were in third, a second behind the top two teams.

In the first race-off, Henderson and Dashorst tried an attack at 400m from home, but could only get to the front wheel of the Gallagher/Tucker pair before they reacted and took them on in a drag race to home and were too strong, taking the first round easing off.  

Gallagher and Tucker made it a clean sweep with a relatively easy margin in the second race. Starting in the second position, they went to the lead at just over three laps to go. Despite several attempts by Henderson and Dashorst, they were unable to take front position back, resulting in only one option, going full gas over the last two laps to try and prevail. They were unsuccessful, allowing Gallagher and Tucker to add to their time trial victory a day earlier.

With an eye to the future, 14-year-old SA rider Courtney Lewis and her pilot Elise Van Hoof were granted an opportunity to post a flying 200m time, albeit ineligible due to age restrictions for the Championships. With 12.263, just 0.7 seconds on the first placed team, Lewis looks to have a very bright future ahead, and might have a Paris 2024 Paralympic Games in the back of her mind.  

Only one men’s team took to the pine for the sprints, but South Australian Brad Henderson, piloted by Thomas Clarke (SA), clocked 10.257 at an average speed of a little over 70 km/h, just 0.4 seconds outside the national record, taking them to a gold medal and national title.

By Cycling NSW

Posted: 11/12/2017