No gear: Olympic cyclists query delay


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Sports

Jonathan Ramnanansingh

Yesterday

A late order for equipment and accessories to outfit TT’s three Olympic-bound cyclists – Nicholas Paul, Kwesi Browne and Teniel Campbell – will be placed at the end of November.

This was confirmed at a virtual meeting, on Monday, which was held to address any concerns surrounding the athletes’ preparations ahead of their hectic 2021 campaign.

Attending the online conference were TT Cycling Federation (TTCF) president Joseph Roberts, vice-president Ian Cole, a representative from Central Spokes Cycling Club and Olympic debutants Nicholas Paul, Kwesi Browne and Teniel Campbell.

Paul and Browne are presently training at the International Cycling Union (UCI) World Cycling Centre (WCC) in Aigle, Switzerland while the Italian-based Campbell is gearing up for her second pro season with new club Mitchelton-Scott.

With just eight months to go before the start of the Summer Games, the trio is in desperate need of new athletic equipment and sporting accessories leading up to and for use at the Tokyo event.

The national cyclists need bike frames, skinsuits, chainrings and custom-made helmets and suits among other personal but necessary equipment.

Since 2019, Paul and Campbell submitted a list of equipment they needed, to TTCF, to aid their pre-Olympic development. Browne did not.

In November last year, the then Larry Romany-led TTCF received a TT$1 million grant from the Sport and Culture Fund specifically for the “national cycling team to prepare for the 2020 Olympic Games.”

To date, none of the requested items have been bought by the federation.

After Monday’s meeting, the TTCF confirmed they would order Look bike frames and chainrings at the end of the month. All other items will be ordered later on.

Additionally, the cyclists are uncertain if they would be receiving the exact equipment which was put forward on their lists.

According to the TTCF, they have already written to several manufacturing companies to get sponsorship and are awaiting responses. Pro cycling equipment is very costly and the $1 million may not suffice.

“We just want their equipment so the athletes can have what’s entitled to them and be ready.

“They are under pressure to optimise their training without proper equipment.

“I think the communication channels between the athletes and administrators needs to be improved so we’re all on the same page,” said the Central Spokes member.

The member’s additional concern, however, is that there’s an international shortage of bicycles and parts, owing to supply chains and the pandemic.

He believes, even if the frames and parts are ordered in two weeks, the time it would take to be delivered is unclear.

Also, they would have to be airfreighted to the cyclists at their present locations in Europe – another major financial hindrance.

In October 2019, Lotus Engineering and Hope Technology unveiled a collaboration for an innovative track bike “designed to deliver medals for the Great Britain Cycling Team at next summer’s Olympic Games.”

British riders tested the bike in secret and continued their evaluation intending to use this frame in 2021.

Similarly, Malaysia’s Olympic riders will be using special bicycles at the Games.

The frames were specially designed to suit the three national racers. It’s made from carbon fibre, which is harder but lighter, using the latest aerodynamic technology to ensure lower wind resistance.

The bicycle was produced via a RM13 million research and development project between the National Sports Institute (ISN) and a UK company, TOTALSIM Ltd, which has the aerodynamic engineering expertise.

The Central Spokes representative is aware that TT does not possess these technologies and finances to design bikes to suit the athletes’ physical build like other developed countries.

“In that regard, we’re at a disadvantage already. But if we get our equipment on time, then we can reduce our inefficiencies and designate more time to the athletes acclimatising to their frames and other equipment. We (TT) have raw natural talent but you are limiting them now with this back-and-forth.

“They may have months to wait for them to be delivered. I was on the verge of investing thousands of US dollars for chainrings just to have the order waiting.

“But there’s been little communication from the TTCF. The world is prepared and we haven’t even made an order for equipment as yet?” he added.

Story appeared first at newsday.co.tt

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