Earlier today, the Spanish national cycling team departed for Newport, Wales for the Newport Para-cycling International scheduled to get underway tomorrow. The competition runs until February 1, and is an important part of 2016 Summer Paralympic campaign for some cyclists as it is a ranking points event.
The team includes Maurice Eckhard, Amador Granados, Eduardo Santas, César Neira, Roberto Alcaide, Alfonso Cabello, Pablo Jaramillo, José Enrique Porto, José Antonio Villanueva, Ignacio Avila, Joan Font, Miguel Angel Clemente, and Francisco Pérez.
National team coach Félix García Casas, said of the event, “The idea is that cyclists are present not just in their target event but that they also add an extra point here and there, although there will be some exceptions like the case of Porto and Villanueva in the pursuit event. Nonetheless, each has their target event and we have medal options in all these categories.”
Font is tandem pilot for Ávila, and Villanueva is the pilot for Porto. Last year, Spain’s Consejo Superior de Deportes (CSD) changed their elite athlete definition to include support athletes as full fledged athletes that are equal to Paralympic and Olympic athletes. Font and Villanueva were some of the immediate beneficiaries of this change.
Last year, Spain hosted a World Cup event in Segovia with several of the national team cyclists competing also appearing at this event including Eckhard, Santas, Alcaide, and Neira. Several of these competitors were members of Spain’s 2012 Summer Paralympic Team including Eckhard who won a bronze medal in London.
Hosts Great Britain announced their team earlier in the month. It includes Jody Cundy, Neil Fachie, Sophie Thornhill, Rachel James, Steve Bate, Adam Duggleby, Megan Giglia, Sally Hurst and Liz Saul.