Jody_Cundy_with_gold_medal_at_World_Para-Cycling_Championships_March_2011Wow, what can I say about the UCI Para-Cycling Track World Championships in Montichiari in Italy earlier this month?

There were three days of competition and for me; three medals, two world records and one national record.

Going into Italy, the main concerns I had were: Could I pull out the pursuit ride my training has been geared to? Could all the pursuit and endurance training I've done effect my top end speed? And would three events back to back be a step too far?

Well question one was answered on day one and it was a big yes!

Preparing for the worlds, my coach Chris Furber and I targeted a time of 4min 45sec in my first race as a realistic target.

If I could do this, then based on previous results this would put me in the top 5 or 6 riders in the world and score a healthy amount of points for the London qualification process. However it would be a massive challenge as my best time prior to the world championships was a 5:03.286. Things had been going well in training, and I was on target, I just had to get up there and put all the components together.

With Chris walking the line I tried to keep my first kilometre measured and controlled as I'd been finding it easy to get carried away, especially when your legs feel good. More importantly though this had been my big downfall in training and had led to some rather slow and incredibly painful efforts.

By the time I reached 3km I was feeling strong and still in control of my speed, and I now had my opponent all set for the catch. I swept by him in turn three and then pushed on through to the end, with my legs beginning to really burn with a lap to go, but hearing the bell I just had enough to get me to the finish line.

As I looked up to the score board I was amazed to see I'd rode a 4:44.085 (an almost 20 second personal best time) and had a rank one next to my name. With just one heat to go it meant I'd definitely be doing a second 4 kilometres in the finals but I would have to wait 5mins to find out what medal I'd be racing for.

In the final heat world champion and world record holder Jiří Ježek posted the fastest time of 4:41.895 and with his opponent falling short of my time it meant I was a guaranteed silver medallist and I would be racing Jiří in the final.

Before the final I talked with Chris and discussed how we were going to attack it as now I had made the final my competitive nature had taken over and I wanted to give Jiří a good fight and make him work for the title.

My qualifying ride was a controlled measured effort, and I believed I could squeeze out a little more and put some pressure on Jiří. So we decided on riding to the world record schedule, and see what would happen.

This was all well and good but by the time I was at lap three, I was a long way up on schedule, a very dangerous place to be in a pursuit especially as this schedule was four seconds faster than I rode in the morning. By lap six my over exuberance started to take its toll as I struggled to maintain the rhythm and speed I'd started with.

Kilo's two and three were pretty steady before I managed to find my legs again, but by then my race was over, Jiří had me in sight. I managed to make it to the 4 kilometre mark without being overlapped. But Jiří was world champion and I now had a new pet project to add to my list for London.

With the pursuit over and all my goals reached and exceeded; it was time to get back to events I know and love and to answer question two. The kilo was going to be an interesting race, with 25 riders down on the start list and team mate Terry Byrne snapping at my heels in training the pressure was on. Terry was off second rider and was out to post the marker everyone would be aiming at, and he did just that blasting out the gate to a two second personal best and a time that only I had gone quicker than.

I was last to go and with Terry's time still top of the table with Jiří Bouska second and Eduard Novak third, it was time to see how much my legs had recovered from the previous days efforts.

Out of the gate and I wanted to get the bike up to speed as fast as possible, first lap complete and I was 0.971 seconds up, my legs were feeling good as I settled into my tri bars and continued to accelerate through the middle section of the ride as I crossed the line I was a full 2.55 seconds clear of Terry and 0.3 seconds inside my world record winning time from Manchester 2009. Question two was answered, I'd not lost any of my speed, and as a bonus from all the endurance training the last two laps didn't hurt as much as in previous kilos. I think that's the first time I've actually been able to enjoy my victory laps.

The last day of competition was the team sprint and I was teaming up with Darren Kenny, who had already successfully defended his 3 kilometre Pursuit and Kilo titles in the previous two days, and Terry Byrne who would be riding man two after his silver medal in the kilo the night before. This was a new line up compared to past events, as the rules and classification classes had changed since the last world championships, as our existing team was no longer a legal line up.

With 15 teams riding the competition had become stronger, and in ride 10 the Chinese team set a new world record time of 51.655, taking 0.5 seconds off the existing mark. However this didn't faze us as we knew that in training we'd been quicker than this new standard. Lined up on the track it was important that we executed the starts and changes over smoothly and legally, as fast as possible, and we did just that, blazing around to a 49.809 to take the top qualification spot and smash the world record in the process.

In the final, after looking at the race data from the heats we made some different gear choices and felt confident we could go faster. As we blasted round the track our confidence was well founded as we smashed the world record again, taking it down to 49.540 with the feedback from the morning making a big difference in the final, the Chinese finished in 51.771.

With the final race complete and under my belt it was clear all my questions at the start of the week had been answered, I could pull out a world class pursuit, I hadn't lost any of my top end speed, and to top it off I was still riding fast on the last day of competition, setting the fastest third lap I'd ever done in the heats of the team sprint, with a 14.198.

Montichiari was a fabulous experience and one of those weekends of racing that as an athlete you love, because all the hard work has paid off and everything has come together.

As a team we topped the medal table with nine golds, eight silvers and one bronze. It's starting to look good for London.

All that's left to do now is sit down with Chris and analyse the performances and work out how to get even quicker for London. I have a few days off, and then I'll be back on my bike preparing for a summer of endurance that will hopefully set me up for next year.

Jody Cundy was born with a deformed foot which was amputated when he was three-years-old. He represented Britain three times in swimming at the Paralympic Games from 1996 to 2004, winning three gold and two bronze medals. He then then switched to cycling in 2006 before winning gold at Beijing 2008 to become one of only a handful of athletes that have become Paralympic champions in two different sports

Pictures courtesy of Kelkel