Cycling Paralympic hopeful Craig Green prepares for his first full season on the road
PUBLISHED: 09:48 11 January 2014 | UPDATED: 09:48 11 January 2014
Houghton cyclist Craig Green has been out in all weathers over the Christmas and new year period as he gears up for the forthcoming season.
Green, who was born with Poland Syndrome, which affected his right hand and a pectoral muscle, only switched from football to cycling last year – but already he is closing in on the country’s top disabled cyclists.
The 32-year-old said: “The disabled calendar starts again in mid-March so I am looking forward to that. All I am doing really is trying to get the miles in. I don’t want to peak too early. I started last season quite late so I was hitting form when everyone else was fizzling out.
“I finished the season strong and to be honest it was a shame it didn’t go on longer really. But that’s cycling for you, obviously it breaks for the winter.
“I will be riding with Greenwheel Cycles up in Peterborough – they are one of my sponsors and they have just sorted out a racing team for the coming season so I have joined them and I shall be racing able-bodied to gain some experience riding against stronger riders. That should help me out riding in the disabled class.”
Green’s first race with the Greenwheel team will be on Saturday and he is hoping that these extra competitive rides will give him an edge over his rivals – especially time trial and road world champion Colin Lynch and Rik Whaddon, who won a silver medal at the London Paralympics.
“It will give me a couple of months of riding because I have got a series of four races in Worcester in the space of four weeks. That should get the form going and help me get stronger. We shall see what happens from there really.
“I pretty much did better than I thought I was going to do for a first season. I missed the first half and if there had been another three or four races I would have just got stronger and stronger – whereas everyone else had raced all season and it was a long season for them and a short season for me. I was getting better and better and they were getting weaker and weaker.
“For the last three or four races in September I was climbing up the leader board in my category and overall and then the season ended.
“I won my last road race up in Sunderland which was a good result for me obviously and on the time trial stuff I was getting nearer to the top two.
“They have been the top two since I can remember and no one gets anywhere near them – and one of them is the world champion and the top boy for Team GB, and I am getting closer and closer to them.
“The difference between them lads and me as far as I am concerned is sponsorship and funding. I am using a road set-up for time trials which is completely different from what they would be using. So I am struggling on with what I have and they have all the funding they need to do it properly.
“Fitness and strength wise as far as I am concerned I am fitter and stronger than anybody. But they are more aerodynamic which saves power and gives them more speed. That’s where they get the times from as far as I am concerned.
“But, as a first season goes, I am happy with where I am – we’ve got 2014 season, 2015 season and half of 2016, As a plan I am pretty much on course.”
This week Green will attend an assessment day at the Velodrome in Manchester. He has limited experience of track cycling but should he impress he would be invited back with the Commonwealth Games then a real possibility.
He said: “Track cycling wasn’t something I was considering and the Games are quite close and I have left it late. I haven’t done much track cycling because of funding once again – I can’t afford to.
“If I was to do the road, the TT and the track it would mean three different bikes, three different set-ups and three lots of money. I am struggling to afford what I have got. But I am going to go and give it my all and see where that takes me.”
Back onn the road there are both the European Championships and the Worlds this year – those races carry national and international ranking points. “For me I will look to be at every one of the national races this year. Those are the races at which you get noticed,” Green said.
It’s a long road to Rio in Brazil where the 2016 Paralympics will take place – but Green is definitely on the right track.