Hong Kong sends only two men to cycling World Cup in Manchester
Only two male riders will take part in the Manchester event that forms the squad's preparations for next year's Asian Games
Hong Kong was only able to send two men's riders to Friday's Track World Cup in Manchester, with a number of athletes considering quitting the team.
Cheung King-lok and Leung Chun-wing will join their three female counterparts - Sarah Lee Wai-sze, Diao Xiaojuan and Wong Wan-yiu, to kick off the track season as they start their preparations for the 2014 Asian Games.
The England event is the opening round of the 2013-14 World Cup Series with the hosts sending the same squad of riders, who recently competed at the European Championships in Apeldoorn, the Netherlands, where they won eight medals and set a new world record in the women's team pursuit.
Kwok Ho-ting and Choi Ki-ho, the two other key members of the men's squad, are still pondering their future, while another member Cheung King-wai must compete in the road race in the Tour of Taihu Lake in China, which starts at the same time. Sprinter Siu Ka-ming, who also used to be Lee's training partner, has ceased full-time riding.
"We can't even form a men's pursuit team of four members because there are not enough numbers," said Hong Kong Cycling Association chairman Leung Hung-tak. "We won a silver medal in the event at the 2010 Guangzhou Asian Games, but we're not too sure if we can repeat the same success at the Incheon Games next year."
The scholarship system at the Sports Institute, according to Leung, has made life difficult for the riders as they will have to suffer a big funding cut if they can't maintain the same level of success in a two-year cycle.
A silver medal performance at the Guangzhou Games has earned the riders close to HK$30,000 a month until early this year, but since the next Asian Games is not until 2014 and they have not won medals at the world championships, their scholarship money has been adjusted according to their results in other international events such as the Asian Championships.
Choi, meanwhile, has also been spotted by Pro Tour team - Orica GreenEDGE of Australia, and may have been offered a chance to ride for a professional team.
"We are still in discussions with the rider and if he wants to leave the Hong Kong team, we hope some arrangements can be made so that Choi can come back for national duty when necessary," said the chief.
Leung also said Hong Kong would host a UCI class one track event at the newly opened HK$600 million velodrome in Tseung Kwan O from January 10 to 12, with Olympic medallist Lee having the opportunity to ride in front of her home crowd.
Lee's three pet events - the 500-kilometre time trial, individual sprint and keirin - are on the medal programme in Hong Kong.
"There is a prerequisite by the UCI that if we want to send a team to next year's track World Championships, we must host an international event before March," he said. "The new velodrome is due to open in December and it fits in with the schedule. We will get the best Hong Kong riders for the event against seven overseas teams."