Manchester’s ‘White Elephant’ thankfully extinct, says proud cyclist Storey

Dame Sarah Storey says British track cycling success is indebted to Manchester’s National Cycling Centre as the team prepares for next week’s European championships in Switzerland.

Storey, who has 11 Paralympic gold medals to her name, won her sixth national title as an able-bodied athlete as part of the team pursuit with her Pearl Izumi outfit at the iconic Manchester velodrome last month.

Storey explained to MM the importance of having such a top velodrome in her hometown and the effect it has had on cycling in Britain.

“Having a hub of British cycling here allows us to compete around the world knowing that we are well supported back home,” said the 37-year-old.

“We get quality track time and it allows us to really focus.

“I was a swimmer when the velodrome was built and I think initially it was seen as a white elephant.

“But Britain has had so much success in recent years with Beijing and London really taking us through the roof. 

“The utilisation of this facility is really important for the British cycling community.”

Storey made history in February by setting new British and Paralympian C5 women’s hour records covering 45.502km. She was attempting to break the record of 46.065km set in 2003 by Leontien Zijlaard-van Moorsel. 

This is all the more impressive given Storey’s left arm finishes at the heel of her palm, meaning her arms are different lengths and as the upper body generates a lot of the power needed in cycling she qualifies for the Paralympics.

Whilst Storey cannot be bound to the bike in case she is involved in a crash, her handlebars have slight adaptations when competing as a disabled athlete.

Storey regularly competes against able-bodied athletes. She just missed out on a spot in the Olympic team pursuit at London 2012 and posted the sixth fastest time in the National Track Championships individual pursuit. 

After cruising through the team qualification Storey, Joanna Rowsell Shand, Katie Archibald and Ciara Horne caught their opponents less than halfway through the four-kilometre long race. 

Though an established quartet and the favourites for national honours, Storey was quick to explain the significance of the win.

“At Nationals the jerseys are what you’re after,” she said.

“It’s the 29th victory for the team this year which surpasses our target and eclipses the amount of victories we achieved in our first year. 

“Technically it was a really good ride and we’re really chuffed to have been able to put that performance together.

“All of us were in the top six in the individual pursuit too which is a great result. 

“These girls are super-motivated and the next eleven months is going to be huge for them.” 

The Pearl Izumi team, which was set up by Storey and fellow-Paralympian and husband Barney, sported the pink and purple of Boot Out Breast Cancer in their efforts to raise awareness for the charity.

Image courtesy of voxwomen via YouTube, with thanks.

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