UCI can do more for Para-cycling - Jody Cundy

By Elizabeth HudsonBBC Sport
Jody Cundy
Cundy is competing at his seventh World Track Championship

Cycling's governing body, the UCI, is still not making the most of Para-cycling, says Britain's Jody Cundy.

Cundy is part of the Great Britain team at the Track World Championships which start in the Netherlands on Thursday.

The 36-year-old will be bidding for his seventh kilo title after setting a new sea-level best in January after recovering from illness.

"From a GB perspective we are in a good position, but the sport as a whole still needs a shake-up," he said.

"There are some encouraging signs from the UCI that they are doing more work on the sport, but it will still take six to 12 months to bear fruit. They recently set up a Para-cycling Twitter account,external-link which doesn't sound like much, but it means someone will actually be tweeting about the sport.

"At the moment it still feels like it is at the bottom of the UCI's list of things to do and it still needs to move up a few rungs to become the sport we want it to be and get more people involved."

This week's event is the first since the International Paralympic Committee included the sport in the programme for the 2020 Games in Tokyo but expressed reservations about its sustainability.

The UCI failed to submit its paperwork for inclusion in the Games in time, meaning it was not included in the first phase of sports announced last year but was part of the final 22-sport programme announced in January.

Also included in the GB team in Apeldoorn are fellow defending world champions Dame Sarah Storey and tandem pairing Pete Mitchell and Neil Fachie. Sophie Thornhill, who won double world gold on the tandem last year with pilot Rachel James, will be riding with Helen Scott, whom she paired to double gold at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games.

Newcomer Jaco van Gass was severely injured while serving with the Parachute Regiment in Afghanistan but has gone on to embark on a number of challenges, including an Arctic charity trek in 2011 alongside Prince Harry, and winning two golds at last year's Invictus Games.

Storey comes to the event after missing out on the women's hour record but earlier this week revealed she was suffering from a chest infection.external-link

"When I finished the hour, I realised what an enormous task I had set out for myself," she said. "500m is a fairly long way to miss out by and it was a significant enough margin to know I couldn't have done anything different to have got there.

"After that, riding 12 laps for the pursuit will feel like nothing."

And all of the team knows that this week's racing is a key step on the road to the 2016 Rio Paralympics.

"We only have a couple of big hit-outs between now and Rio so these World Championships are very important for us," adds Cundy, who missed a block of training after spending a week in hospital in November with an infection of the epiglottis.

"Not only is it a good marker to see where we are and what the rest of the world is doing, the better we perform, the more qualification points it will give us for Rio and enable to take a bigger team.

"The fact that we have only raced three times since London is pretty poor and although the level of competition has gone up, the fact that there aren't as many races means there aren't the opportunities for young blood to come through and race.

"We are lucky to have some new faces on our team so it will be a good chance for them to find out what it is like in a major championship and maybe also come back with medals as well."

GB team

Men: Stephen Bate piloted by Adam Duggleby (B/VI), Jody Cundy (C4), Neil Fachie piloted by Pete Mitchell (B/VI), Louis Rolfe (C2), Jaco van Gass (C4)

Women: Megan Giglia (C3), Crystal Lane (C5), Lora Turnham piloted by Lauryn Therin (B/VI), Sophie Thornhill piloted by Helen Scott (B/VI), Dame Sarah Storey (C5)

Dame Sarah Storey
Storey is hoping to win three gold medals in Apeldoorn in the time trial, pursuit and scratch races
Prince Harry and GB Para-cyclist Jaco van Gass
Van Gass and Prince Harry have been friends for a number of years
Sophie Thornhill and Helen Scott
Thornhill and Scott are bidding for their first world title together but enjoyed success for England at the Commonwealth Games