TTO JUNIOR cyclist Ryan D’Abreau already knows in whose slipstream he wants to follow - that of this country’s top riders at international level, including men’s flying 200 metres world record holder Nicholas Paul, fellow Olympic debutant Kwesi Browne and two-time Olympian Njisane Phillip.
All three have differing traits which D’Abreau admires: Paul’s raw speed, Phillip’s tactical acuity and Browne’s speed endurance.
In his final year as a junior, the Arima Wheelers rider qualified for the UCI Junior Track Cycling World Championships in Cairo, Egypt scheduled to pedal off from September 1-5.
“Seeing how hard they work, they don’t give up and those sort of things,” D’Abreau observed, saying he was going in mostly “blindly” about potential competition in Egypt.
“The way they train, that is what I look at, being able to train at that intensity and virtually nothing being able to stop them from training. They have a goal and they work towards that goal. That is what motivates me to follow them.”
Riding since the age of eight, the 17-year-old cyclist has seen his career progress smoothly over the course of four national titles - youth developers Under-11 and Under-13, tinymites and juveniles, with his biggest achievement being the World Juniors berth.
“I am very excited because this was my last year to try and make the (junior) team. I didn’t get a chance to make it last year because of Covid-19 so I’m very happy to make it this year,“ D’Abreau explained.
The year 2020 proved a challenging one to adjust to the pandemic-affected sporting landscape for most athletes locally and worldwide.
The National Cycling Centre in Balmain, Couva was shuttered for months. And even though the young pedal-pusher took advantage to intensify his dry land sessions at Crunch Fitness Gym under trainer Richard Parks, nothing replaces the specificity of track preparation when trying to qualify for a global Games,
It became even more difficult when he lost his Arima Wheelers teammate and a major motivating force, Browne, who accompanied Paul to the World Cycling Centre in Aigle, Switzerland last October.
“It was very, very difficult to train because the track was closed and that is the main place that I would train, so I ended up getting to go in the gym one-on-one due to the circumstances, “ D’Abreau said. “I was trying to qualify so I was doing gym work and that was what was basically happening. And that was very hard for me because when the track opened back up now very close to trials, I had to start afresh.”
Even with Browne not around to push him to his limits, coach Fitzroy Daniel is ensuring D’Abreau continues improving and progressing, training him “extra hard” even when the teenager is by himself.
“The training basically, it is getting harder yes, more intense and stuff and I am faring good with it. I am learning new things and as of now, I am just going to continue training hard.”
That diligent outlook and approach is a requirement if his goal of achieving a 10.5-second clocking in Egypt is to become reality.
Until then, D’Abreau and his supporters have launched a GoFundMe page to raise $56,000 to purchase necessary equipment (e.g. bike, bike bags, helmet, cleats, tools, spare wheels etc) and to cover travel expenses for the Cairo assignment.
With his qualifying effort at the Trinidad and Tobago Cycling Federation (TTCF) Second Assessment back on January 29 now in the past, D’Abreau will have no more racing events to gauge his progress ahead of Egypt. But under coach Daniel, he will use his best gears to build up to top speed in September.