Nicholas Paul

DUAL ASSIGNMENT: Trinidad and Tobago’s Nicholas Paul is expected to anchor the T&T trio in the team spirit in the fourth leg of the UCI World Cup Series in New Zealand tomorrow and he will also contest the Men’s sprint. —Photo: AFP

Having become reacquainted with top-level competition in Hong Kong, Trinidad and Tobago’s elite cyclists will be aiming to get closer to the podium when the Cambridge, New Zealand leg of the UCI World Cup series starts tomorrow.

The quartet of Nicholas Paul, Njisane Phillip, Keron Bramble and Kwesi Browne had a best placing of eighth, achieved in the team sprint where the trio of Paul, Bramble and Phillip set a new national sea level record of 43.966 seconds. Paul was ninth overall in the individual sprint and Browne missed out on the semi-finals in the keirin.

“I was relatively happy with the results from Hong Kong, especially considering the challenges we faced leading into departure and the rigours and impact of 40 hours of travel,” technical director/national sprint coach Erin Hartwell said.

“Going into this campaign, the first World Cup in Hong Kong was to be the first of three back-to-back-to-back World Cups. My expectation has been that this first event may be our most difficult, due to not having raced since the Pan Am Championships and the team recently coming off illness a few weeks ago.

“It had been a bit ‘hit and miss’ in training over the past couple of weeks. The team needs some racing stimulation to find those last tenths of a second. We got that in Hong Kong,” he added.

Hartwell described the sea level national record as “a major achievement” for the team but lamented the rear wheel puncture suffered by Paul in their first round ride-off against France that required a re-ride with little recovery time.

Tomorrow, T&T will expect to do better, barring any mishaps. Bramble, Phillip and Paul are expected to start in that order once more.

Coach Hartwell will also be hoping adjustments to his gear will help Paul “to close the very small gap to the top” in the sprint.

Paul is again expected to be joined in that competition by Keron Bramble, in preference to Phillip. Browne will focus on the keirin.

Olympic qualifying points will again be up for grabs.

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While former skipper Denesh Ramdin did not travel with the Trinidad and Tobago Red Force team for their third-round West Indies Championship four-day match against Guyana Jaguars, starting tomorrow, chairman of selectors Tony Gray said the wicket-keeper/batsman still has a big role to play in the team going forward.