A pivotal weekend awaits para-cyclist Simon Price in his quest to earn a place in Great Britain’s Paralympic squad later this year.
The reigning national time trial champion competes at the UCI Para-Cycling Road World Cup in Belgium, knowing a medal is vital to his chances of making the plane to Rio.
Price is part of a 13-strong British team looking to impress at the final major event before selectors decide the squad.
The 46-year-old will arrive in Ostend full of confidence having defended his national time trial crown, and won both TT and road race disciplines in an international event in Italy last month.
The C2 category rider won a road race world championship medal five years ago, but has targeted the time trial as his best opportunity of winning selection.
He gets his chance tomorrow morning (Friday) when he goes up against the clock over two laps of an 8.35km circuit.
Price said: “Since the end of last year it’s been a two-stage season: the time trial in Belgium and, if that goes well, the Rio games.
“Belgium will be a flat time trial, similar to Rio, so it will be a good benchmark.
“If I get close to my main rivals or beat them there is no reason why I can’t replicate that if I was lucky enough to be selected.”
Price’s time trialling has improved markedly in recent seasons and he recorded a career-best result at the World Cup in South Africa last autumn when he finished fourth, just 27 seconds behind the winner and reigning world champion.
Since then he has embarked on an intensive strength and conditioning programme over the winter, with the help of the English Institute of Sport, to arrive in peak condition.
“It’s all about getting to your selection race in the best shape of your life and delivering a performance; that’s all you can do,” Price explained.
“The fitness training makes you far more robust and stronger. The time trial is all about trying to stay strong and staying in your aerodynamic position and that takes a lot of work.
“Things don’t tend to happen by accident. If you go and perform it will mean you have done everything right over the last couple of years.”
Failure to climb the time trial podium would leave the Thorpe Satchville rider needing to secure a medal via a much more unpredictable route: Sunday morning’s road race.
As well as overseas rivals, he also faces competition in his class from GB team-mate Louis Rolfe who won a world track title earlier this year.
Price, who lost the use of his left leg following a road accident while out riding, has been a member of the British Cycling Paralympic Academy programme since 2014.
But with just six male cycling slots available in the British Paralympic squad, including track riders, there will be no margin for error.
“If you aren’t capable of winning a medal here, you won’t go,” he added. “But if I do win in Belgium I would like to think I go.
“I just hope I can do myself justice. If I go there and do a good performance and it’s not enough, then that’s the reality of it,
“You also have to try and enjoy what you’re doing. You can’t do this forever and it’s an exciting thing to be involved in.”