Freak crash fails to derail Simon Price’s Paralympic bid

Price climbs his first World Cup podium with silver medallist Colin Lynch and winner Tristen Chernove EMN-160525-141015002
Price climbs his first World Cup podium with silver medallist Colin Lynch and winner Tristen Chernove EMN-160525-141015002
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Simon Price produced one of the rides of his life on Friday to win a World Cup medal and boost his chances of a place at the 2016 Paralympics.

The international para-cyclist had targeted the time trial in Belgium as his big chance to prove himself to British team selectors.

Price came through a wet road race to finish just outside the medals in fourth PICTURE: Eamonn Deane EMN-160525-141027002

Price came through a wet road race to finish just outside the medals in fourth PICTURE: Eamonn Deane EMN-160525-141027002

And six months of hard work along a regimented training plan paid off as he took a magnificent bronze medal.

But just eight days beforehand, Price feared a freak training accident, between Ratcliffe and East Goscote, had destroyed his big dream.

The 46-year-old, who lost the use of his left leg in a road accident 19 years ago, was catapulted off his bike at 25mph while trying to avoid a fallen tree just a day before he was due to fly out to Ostend.

“I had done this circuit three times in half-an-hour and was going down a steep hill and over a humpback bridge.

“I came around a corner and 20 metres away I saw a tree had fallen down across the width of the road.

“I hit my brakes, but I somersaulted over the handlebars and into the tree.”

The accident left him with a big whiplash injury and fears his World Cup, and consequently, Rip hopes, were over.

“It was a moment of despair,” he added. “I staggered out of this tree and wasn’t in good shape at all.

“My neck and back were really bad because I had landed on my head, and it hurt my good leg as well. I thought it had wrecked my chances.”

After a few days off the bike and with the help of the British team physiotherapists and coach John Hewitt, the Thorpe Satchville rider thankfully recovered in time for Friday’s decisive time trial.

Knowing a medal was essential just to be considered for one of Team GB’s Paralympic cycling spots, Price pushed himself to the limit on the flat, fast course.

He stopped the clock in 25min 01secs to nail the bronze medal - his first in World Cups - just 19 seconds behind gold medallist and hot favourite Tristen Chernove, of Canada, and five seconds behind runner-up Colin Lynch, or Ireland.

Price said: “The Rio course is flat and fast which is why this race was the target as the last opportunity to do a Rio selection ride.

“It was the single biggest pressure ride since I got into para-cycling, but as an athlete you learn to deal with that.

“I knew I was capable of being competitive. I just had to deliver that performance on the day and I absolutely did.

“It was great to nail it, and in terms of converting that to something better later in the year, it’s possible because the gaps between us were not big.”

Two days later Price came within a bike wheel of a second World Cup medal in the road race.

Having led out a sprint with 300m to go, he was passed by two riders in the final 50 metres and then pipped to the bronze medal on the line.

“I did go a bit early and was perhaps a bit optimistic,” he added. “But I was fairly confident after winning in Italy, and there were positives to take out of that ride.”

A tense waiting game, on top of a new bespoke training regime, now lies ahead for Price until the GB Paralympic squad is announced in mid-June.

He said: “I saw 2016 as a two-race year - literally that time trial in Belgium and then the race in Rio if I’m lucky enough to be selected.

“We have more riders than places available, but in terms of performance I have done what I can to prove I’m capable of being on the podium in Rio.”