Hong Kong golden girl Sarah Lee eager to mix it with world's best sprinters
Champion track cyclist, who won a bronze medal in the sprint in the last World Cup leg in Cali, faces elite riders in New Zealand's Cambridge
Sarah Lee Wai-sze will be looking forward to another chance to rub shoulders with the world's best sprinters as she leads a strong eight-member Hong Kong squad to the UCI Track World Cup series, which kicks off in Cambridge, New Zealand, today.
The three-day event at the Avantidrome has attracted more than 500 riders and staff from 39 nations in preparation for the forthcoming world championships in early March, with the Rio Olympic Games next summer the ultimate target.
A star-studded line-up in the women's sprinting events will see Lee, who won a bronze medal in the sprint in the last World Cup leg in Cali, Colombia, face elite riders.
They include German sprint world champion Kristina Vogel, Australian Anna Meares, the current Olympic sprint champion and Chinese stars Zhong Tianshi, the sprint champion in Cali, and losing finalist Guo Shuang.
The fast-improving 21-year-old Dutch champion Elis Ligtlee is also a contender, bringing her top form to Cambridge after winning the European titles in sprint and keirin.
"[Lee] completed a two-week intensive training programme in Guangzhou before coming to New Zealand and is hitting her best form," said hong Kong coach Shen Jinkang.
"She will take the opportunity of riding against her major rivals to consolidate a set of tactics for the Olympic Games.
"The training camp in Guangzhou was very tough, but Lee completed it with aplomb."
The Cambridge event is also the seventh round of the Olympic qualification for teammates Leung Chun-wing and Diao Xiaojuan, who aim to cement their places in the men's and women's omnium, respectively.
Also looking to boost their Olympic qualifying hopes are the women's pursuit team of Meng Zhaojuan, Yang Qianyu, Pang Yao and Leung Bo-yee after a disappointing 11th in Cali.