Cyclists aim to stay on the road to success
8:47pm Tuesday 4th September 2012 in London Olympics 2012 - Latest News
Great Britain's cyclists are determined to carry their speed from the velodrome boards on to Brands Hatch when the Paralympic Games road cycling programme opens tomorrow.
Led by Sarah Storey, who won double gold on the London 2012 track, Britain are represented on the road in eight of tomorrow's 18 time-trial events, with the road races to take place from Thursday to Saturday.
The host nation finished on top of the medal table on the Siberian pine of the velodrome with five gold and 15 medals in all, with podium places in every event entered, and are seeking a similarly successful haul at the Kent motor-racing circuit.
Tom Stanton, British Cycling's Paralympic endurance coach, said: "We just want to carry that kind of momentum forward.
"We topped the medal table and whilst we don't have the kind of numbers on the road to do that, we certainly want to make sure that we still do ourselves justice at home and bring the gold medals in.
"We've got a burgeoning strong team out there, some people that were there in 2008, like (Paralympic road champions) Rachel Morris, Sarah Storey and David Stone, then we've got the newer guys coming through like Crystal Lane and Shaun McKeown, who hopefully can put their marker down to the world.
"We're just itching to get racing."
In many respects Brands Hatch, which hosted 12 Formula One British Grands Prix between 1964 and 1986, is returning to its roots.
In the 1920s a farmer agreed to a request from a group of cyclists to use a mushroom field off the London to Dover road, with the location becoming a Mecca. The Paralympic events will take place on the whole of the 4.2km circuit, including Brabham and Cooper Straights and Surtees, while Pilgrim's Drop becomes a steep climb as the cyclists round the circuit in the opposite direction to when it is used in motor-racing.
"A racing circuit is always going to be a challenge, because of the nature of its cambers and burns," Stanton said.
"We've seen it, we've ridden it. Hopefully we've done our research and our homework and we'll be able to make sure we get round in one piece."
For Morris to be competing at all is remarkable after the 33-year-old, who won hand-cycling time-trial gold at the 2008 Paralympics, was injured and had her bike written off when struck by a car while competing near Guildford in July.
Despite the short recovery period and the need to replace her bike, Morris, who has reflex sympathetic dystrophy, will take to the start line tomorrow.
"She's a strong girl, she's been recovering well, working hard with our physiologist and really making sure that in the short time she's had to recover she's really made the most of it," Stanton added.
"Fingers crossed she can really put a performance in that's worthy of her."
One person who will be familiar with all the nuances of Brands Hatch is Italian Alex Zanardi.
The 45-year-old made 45 appearances in Formula One following his debut in 1993 and competed at Brands Hatch when racing in F3000 early in his career and then in the World Touring Car Championship later.
His more recent appearances in Kent came after he was critically injured in the American Memorial 500 Cart event in Germany on September 16, 2001. A 200mph accident dissected his car and lost both his legs.
As well as compete in top-level motorsport since the accident, Zanardi has made a successful transition to hand-cycling and in May this year he won time-trial and road race gold at the UCI Para-cycling Road World Cup in Rome.