International para-cyclist Simon Price is using the ‘massive disappointment’ of his Paralympic omission to fuel a world title bid.
The Thorpe Satchville rider was last week named on British Cycling’s Podium Programme despite missing out on a place in the squad for Rio last September.
Price showed impressive resilience to bounce back before the season’s end with his second World Cup medal of the year at Bilbao as well as two personal bests.
“For me it was a successful year,” he said. “I’m still extremely focussed and it was great to remain on the programme.
“It’s always an honour to represent Great Britain and I know I’m very fortunate to be Lottery-funded and get all the support associated with being on the British Cycling programme.
“As a rider you want to stay on the programme and compete at world level for as long as possible.”
The 47-year-old, who rides without the use of his left leg, built his entire 2016 season working towards the World Cup time trial in Ostend, Belgium, last May.
It was the final selection race before the Paralympic squad was announced and Price knew a maiden time trial medal was essential for his Rio prospects.
Despite the intense pressure and stress of funnelling half-a-year’s work on one performance, he duly delivered the goods. But a bronze medal finish, just 19 seconds behind the winner, was not enough in the ultra-competitive race for places.
“It was massively hard,” he said. “It was so, so disappointing because I had worked towards it and Rio was my next step.
“I thought I had the momentum after Belgium. It all fell into place; I did the ride I thought I needed to do, but it wasn’t enough as it turned out.
“We will never know what would have happened.
“Once I wasn’t selected I just had to go on and reset my goals.
“After a quick dip, I got myself out and went to Bilbao, riding for Para-T, and got on the podium.”
Winning in sport can be as much about mental strength and handling disappointment and frustration as it is about training and preparation.
A medal at this summer’s World Road Paracycling Championships in South Africa would go a long way to erasing any negative memories.
Price has useful prior experience at the Pietermaritzburg course having finished fourth there at an end-of-season World Cup time trial 18 months ago.
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“My goal has always been to be world champion,” he said. “As a cyclist that is the ultimate, and I have a chance.
“The last time I rode at Pietermaritzburg I was 27 seconds off the world champion and then I made huge gains between 2015 and 2016.
“I have continued to make improvements on last year. The competition is always improving and you always have to look at pushing that bit more.
“If you stand still your results will go backwards.”
Before the shot at the rainbow jersey in August, if selected, there are back-to-back World Cup events in Italy and Belgium in May, followed by a third at the end of June in the Netherlands.
After a pleasing winter of training on the bike and in the gym, Price, a world championship road race medallist in 2011, is confident he can find further marginal gains.
A new-found love of time trialling from a seasoned road racer is helping to maintain this appetite for improvement.
“There is a longevity to cycling,” he added. “Since I became a para-cyclist, each year I have been able to improve.
“It’s about learning every year. I have learned to be a better time triallist thanks to the coaching I’ve had.
“I always had a road race mentality before that and enjoyed the cut and thrust of it, but I really enjoy the time trial discipline now.
“I can break down each sector of every time trial and wonder how I can go quicker and that makes it really interesting.”