Thursday, 30 August 2012

A blog from Azerbaijan by John Newton

Hi everyone,

Well we all know what a massive global conglomerate the long established Pearson Group has become of late and as if to prove it here is a report from an Asian branch.

2012 took off quiet calmly here in Baku and I managed a couple of Sunday sessions on the 1960s former soviet concrete velodrome in early January. For company I had a few of the local roadies who use the track as a meeting point post Sunday ride. However, February was another story. At pretty much the same time the weather struck Europe the “Windy City of Baku, Azerbaijan” had one dump of snow after another which lasted right through to the end of March. By then I was due a trip home and by the time I got back Andy, Rob and Dave had their new Pearson track bikes ready for action.

The Velodrome in Baku

The Velodrome in Baku

Now for those of you familiar with Manchester, Newport, or are fortunate enough to have been on the boards at London, this is something quite different. I’m sure HS&E in the UK would have stopped us using it some time ago. We get there once or twice a week and, as an example of how different it is, we usually share it with locals on MTBs (bikes have only come to Baku in the last 12 months many locals have never seen them before) riding any which way they please, this is used to hone our track skills, children playing, it’s one of the few open areas in the city. I have also had guys on an electric scooter/bike, a child on an internal combustion powered mini quad!

This week Rob suffered what we had expected for some time, a major blow out. Glass is ever present along with wind-blown poly bags, nails and lumps of grout out of the joints in the concrete. Yes its 300meters of pure fun folks and we love it. I’m sure if we wait long enough an Olympic bid will bring us a nice new indoor wooden bowl. Sorry about Dave’s lack of head gear in the pics he has a sprained ankle (ay?) and was there only for the photos and forgot his lid, oops!

Written by John Newton

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

The Paralympics Are Nearly Here!

With the huge success of the Olympics behind us we look forward to the Paralympics. Starting in just under a week they promise to be the biggest, most watched Paralympics in history. Great Britain’s Paralympians dominated the cycling medals table in Beijing, but can they do the same at home in London?

Channel 4 are broadcasting the Paralympics over all 12 days of competition. There will be more than 400 hours of live coverage on multiple TV and online channels. The track cycling will be taking place between Thursday 30th August and Sunday 2nd September, the road cycling events are between Wednesday 5th September and Saturday 8th September.

So, how do the events work?


Athletes are split into four classes for competition. These are defined by the severity of limitation to their abilities to perform the sporting activities. The different classes also determine which cycle is used: bicycle, tricycle, handcycle or tandem.


B – Athletes with a visual impairment. They compete with a sighted pilot on a tandem bicycle.



H1-H4 – Athletes with an impairment affecting their legs requiring the use of a handcycle.

Karen Darke

Karen Darke on a handcycle

T1-T2 – Athletes with a balance impairment compete using a tricycle.

David Stone

David Stone on a tricycle

C1-C5 – Athletes with an impairment affecting their legs, arms and/or trunk but compete using a standard bicycle.

Jody Cundy

Jody Cundy

The numbers in the H, T and C classes refer to the severity of their impairment. The lower the number, the greater the impairment and therefore the greater the impact on their ability.


There are two venues hosting the Paralympic cycling.

The Track

The Velodrome in the Olympic park plays host with its 250m banked track.

The Pringle

The 'Pringle

There are a total of 18 medal events spread over 4 days. There are four formats – Individual Pursuit, Team Sprint, Individual Sprint and Time Trial.

Only bicycles and tandems are used in the Velodrome.


Individual Pursuit

Starting on either side of the track, two opposing riders race each other, the winner being the rider to either catch the other or complete the full distance in the quickest time. The men’s is four kilometres long, the women’s is three kilometres.

Individual Sprint

This is a straight race between two riders over three laps of the track. Starting together and slowly building speed until a max speed sprint finish this race tends to be a highly tactical affair with riders trying to psyche each other out, neither wanting to be the first to set off. It is one of the most exciting events in the Velodrome, often coming down to hundredths of a second separating the riders.

Team Sprint

The team sprint is a mixed event with teams of three comprising both men and women(C1-C5.) The fastest two teams through qualifying will race for the gold medal and the third and fourth fastest go for bronze.

Time Trial

1km for men, 500m for women. Athletes ride alone on the track, the fastest time wins.

The Road

Brands Hatch

An 8km circuit of Brands Hatch and surrounding roads are the venue for the road events. There are 32 medal events across three disciplines. All four classes compete.


Road Race and Team Events

All athletes start together, first across the finish line is the winner.

Time Trials

Athletes starts are staggered by 60 seconds. Fastest time over the course wins.

Team Relay

Another mass start event. Each team consists of three riders each doing two laps. The team that crosses the line first wins.

The Athletes

Some athletes to keep an eye on

Darren Kenny OBE

Darren Kenny

With 6 Paralympic golds, 2 silvers and 17 World Championship golds, Darren is certainly no stranger to winning! He also currently holds all World and Paralympic records in his class. London will be his third Paralympics competing in the Individual Pursuit CP3, Team Sprint and the Kilo CP3.

Sarah Storey OBE

Sarah Storey

Starting off as a swimmer in the 1992 Barcelona Paralympics, she won two golds and three silvers aged just 14. She went on to win a total of 5 Paralympic gold medals, 8 silver and 3 bronze before switching to cycling for the 2008 Beijing Paralympics where she won two golds. She also competes against able bodied athletes winning the 3km national track pursuit championship just 8 days after winning gold in Beijing. She went on to defend her title the year after.

More information

Paralympics Home Page - for all information on events, getting to and from venues etc.

Channel 4 Paralympic Schedule - for all details of events being shown.

Official Ticket Site - There are still tickets available for purchase