Cycle star Simon Price begins Paralympic year with third national title

Simon Price on his way to his third national paracyling time trial title EMN-160418-084003002
Simon Price on his way to his third national paracyling time trial title EMN-160418-084003002
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Para-cyclist Simon Price opened what could be the biggest season of his life in style by defending his national time trial title.

The Thorpe Satchville rider saw off chief rival Louis Rolfe to be crowned champion for the third straight year.

It was the perfect way to kick off a year which he ultimately hopes will end with a Paraylmpic adventure in Rio this summer.

Price had just one competition to his name going into the championships at Sutton Bonington, in Nottinghamshire, and it was only his second race since last October’s national title win.

But he showed the benefits of a tailored winter training regime with a convincing performance.

The 46-year-old put 40 seconds between him and Rolfe, a reigning world track champion and fellow British Paralympic hopeful.

“Without doubt, I was very pleased to win it again,” he said. “I felt I delivered a really good performance.

“While it wasn’t a focussed event for Rio, you certainly want to do well.

“I’d only ridden one club 10 on the Tuesday before, but I knew I was going well in training and knew what I could do.”

While big personal pride comes with a national crown, the event was almost used as build-up to the first of two major targets this season: next month’s Para-cycling World Cup, in Belgium.

Price will head to Ostend well aware of its importance to his chances of making the plane for Rio.

The squad is expected to be announced just a few weeks later.

“Belgium is massive; it’s my Rio race,” he added.

“In theory I will need a medal in Belgium to get there.”

Price, who was left without the use of his left leg following a road accident, burst onto the para-cycling scene when he won a road race bronze medal at the 2011 world championships.

While racing has always been his stronger suit, Price has worked hard to refine his time trial technique.

He believes the discipline could be the safer route to fulfilling his ambitions compared with the more unpredictable and volatile nature of road racing.

“With road racing there are so many other factors so the time trial is my focus,” he explained. “If I can deliver there, hopefully it will give me the chance to go on to the next stage of Rio.

“But I’m just trying to keep a lid on things and not think too far ahead. At the moment Belgium is purely my focus.”

Price was invited into the British Cycling Paralympic Academy Programme 18 months ago and last year rode three World Cup events.

His best results came in South Africa, in September, which included a fourth place in the time trial.

In doing so he finished just 27 seconds behind winner and reigning world champion Arslan Gilmutdinov, of Russia.

Price also came within a whisker of a medal at last summer’s world championships, finishing fifth in the road race, and seventh against the clock to end the season ranked fifth in the world.

His next outing will be a C1 event in Italy this weekend where he will compete in both disciplines.

“My main focus is to gauge where I am in the time trial,” he said. “I do feel I have made improvements.

“We targeted certain elements and have worked really hard on them throughout the winter.

“I’ve won the last three national time trials, and the gap between myself and riders at world level has been coming down and down.”