CYCLING

Sarah Lee and Hong Kong riders vow to put on a show at new velodrome

Local team are excited about giving home-grown fans their best performance in the first international event to be held at HK$600m velodrome

PUBLISHED : Friday, 10 January, 2014, 12:18am
UPDATED : Friday, 10 January, 2014, 12:18am

The cream of Hong Kong's talent promised to put on a show when they christen the new Tseung Kwan O velodrome with an international event starting today.

Hong Kong will be represented by a full squad, including Olympic bronze medallist Sarah Lee Wai-sze, for their first home international track event.

They will race against teams from China, South Korea, Malaysia, Taiwan, Uzbekistan, Western Australia and India in the Hong Kong International Track Cup.

The more people come, the better atmosphere for the riders to deliver their best. We rarely have the chance to race in front of our home crowd
Sarah Lee Wai-sze

Lee said coach Shen Jinkang was "very serious" about enthralling the fans as first impressions were important.

"The coach is very serious about the event as it is the first competition in the new venue," she said. "He wants us to leave a good impression so the fans will come back to support us."

The three-day event is the first major competition in the newly opened HK$600 million venue, widely considered the cradle for more local riders to achieve international honours following Lee's heroics at the 2012 London Olympic Games.

"We have come a long way and now we have our own facility. It's not been easy," said Lee, who will take part in three sprint events - the 500-metre time trial of which she is the reigning world champion, the sprint and keirin.

"I hope more people can come to support us and enjoy some great track cycling.

"The more people come, the better atmosphere for the riders to deliver their best. We rarely have the chance to race in front of our home crowd and their presence will definitely be a morale booster for Hong Kong riders," said Lee, who is gearing up for the world championships in Columbia in late February.

Lee will again face tough competition from mainland riders in all three events, including Lin Junhong, who beat Lee in the sprint at the National Games in Shenyang, Zhong Tianshi, Shi Jingjing and Li Xuemei.

"I have a good record against Lee in the time trial and hopefully I can repeat the same in Hong Kong," said Lin. "The facility here is very good and the weather is fine. We look forward to some good results."

Shen said the mainlanders were looking for ranking points in this UCI class one event and would be a big threat.

"They have had a break after the National Games in September and therefore they must get points here before they can qualify for competing in the final round of the World Cup series in Mexico next week and the world championships," Shen said.

"I would be very happy if Lee can sweep all three gold medals, but it is unlikely even if her recent form looks good."

In the men's event, Kwok Ho-ting will be back in the men's 4-kilometre team pursuit, which also features Cheung King-lok, Cheung King-wai and Leung Chun-wing.

Kwok, the scratch race world champion in 2011, said after the East Asian Games that he would quit the sport, but had a change of heart after taking a break.

"We have tried to push his form up and he is now reaching about 80 per cent of his best," said the coach. "The team pursuit is our major target at the Asian Games and Kwok's return will definitely boost our chances."