Para-cyclist Simon Price insists there is still more to come after narrowly missing a medal at the UCI Paracycling Road World Championships.
The Thorpe Satchville rider was delighted with his performances in Italy after finishing eighth in the time trial and then sixth after a bunch sprint finish in the road race two days later.
At 49, and the oldest rider in the 27-strong field, Price was 50 seconds off the time trial podium and was then clocked in the same time as road race gold medallist Tristen Chernove, of Canada, among the most competitive C2 field ever assembled.
“I was really pleased to go to a world championships and deliver the best performances I could and will continue, as always, to strive for a medal next time.
“There were 12 of us that had medalled at a World Cup in the last two years so I knew just to get in the top 10 would need a proper ride.
“Three guys have come in over the last year who are very competitive and have gone to the top of our pathway.
“We had guys that were world champions when I started who are now finishing 20th (in the road race) and way out the back.
He added: “You have to keep pushing on year on year because if you don’t make improvements you go backwards.
“For me as an athlete I’m improving each year even though I’m getting on a bit.”
While a number of new faces have come into the C2 classification this year and set the bar even higher, it was old adversary Arslan Gilmutdinov, of Russia, who took time trial gold in 18min 32secs.
Price was a little under a minute back, but averaged 26mph on a technical eight-and-a-half-mile course of ever-changing terrain which included a testing half-mile climb at five per cent.
“When I crossed the line I was third, briefly, but Arslan had set off behind me and was almost on me as I finished,” he said.
“In terms of time it was an absolutely solid performance, and my best-ever for power.
“The two guys who were a few seconds ahead of me were second and third at the 2015 world championships, and were more than a minute ahead of me then.
“Without dropping my chain this time I would have beaten them.
“I’m half-a-minute quicker than I was last year so there are some gains I can make in the off season aerodynamically.
“The physical performance is there which is the main thing and gives me confidence. The margins are very small.”
Two days later, the riders faced five laps of the eight-and-a-half-mile loop in what would prove the fiercest road race the Leicestershire rider had encountered in eight years of paracyling.
Price was among a 14-strong group to go clear, and twice showed good powers of recovery to get back to the group and stay in medal contention.
“The road race was the hardest power race I have ridden as a para-cyclist,” he said.
“I dropped my chain again on the cobbles and had to work really hard to get back, and then got distanced up the climb and it took me a mile to get back to the lead group.”
In the final run-in, the powerful leading trio were allowed a split-second to spring clear, and Price was then pipped at the line for fourth and fifth after a photo-finish.
“It was just about using my nouse,” he added. “I was slightly disappointed not to come out of the final corner on the back of the three, but there was no way I was going to get round them.
“But looking back I was in the sprint to win the world championships and did the best sprint I could.”
Price had just four days at home before making a swift reunion with the British team at Heathrow, jetting off to Canada for the latest leg of the Paracycling World Cup this weekend.