UCI Track Cycling World Championships, Hong Kong 2017

Sarah Lee favours training than competing as she skips National Championships

Hong Kong’s best known cyclist will be a notable absentee in this weekend’s event as Yang Qianyu and Leung Chun-wing headline the entry list at Tseung Kwan O

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 15 March, 2017, 7:41pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 16 March, 2017, 2:33am

Hong Kong’s newly crowned Asian champions Yang Qianyu and teammate Leung Chun-wing will headline the entry list in this weekend’s National Championships – but don’t expect to see Sarah Lee Wai-sze.

Top local riders will be using the Nationals on Saturday to gear up for next month’s UCI Track World Championships but Hong Kong’s most famous cyclist will be a notable absentee because she has decided to train on her own ahead of the Worlds.

Still, there will be plenty of local stars for the event after the Hong Kong team scrapped the last two rounds of the World Cup series in America to stay home so they can better prepare themselves for the Worlds, which will take place at the Tseung Kwan O Velodrome on April 12-16.

“Many of our track riders are of world-class level and may not take part in a home event under normal circumstances,” said Cycling Association chairman Leung Hung-tak. “But since the world event is approaching, they intend to use the opportunity to get familiar with the track conditions and fine tune their training before taking on the best riders in the world.

“It’s always important to deliver at the World Championships, especially as this will be for the first time they will race in front of home fans. It may cause some pressure but they can turn these pressure into motivation so they raise their standard to a higher level.”

Major breakthrough as Yang Qianyu snatches gold at Asian Cycling Championships

Hong Kong has produced three track world champions over the last decade. They are Wong Kam-po and Kwok Ho-ting (both in the men’s scratch race) and Lee (women’s 500-metre time trial), while Leung Chun was crowned the world junior champion in the boys’ points race. Both Wong and Kwok have retired but fast improving Leung has become a major force in the men’s team. The 23-year-old snatched one gold (scratch) and one silver (omnium) medal at the recent Asian Championships in India. Lee clinched all three gold medals in the individual sprinting events namely the time trial, sprint and keirin.

“Track cycling features a number of Olympic programmes and the competition is extremely fierce. We have to get the best out of our riders if we want to stay competitive in the event,” said the cycling chief.

The official also confirmed they had acquired the HK$15 million budget for running the world event after solving the broadcast issue.

Sarah Lee captures gold at the Asian Championships

“The response from commercial sponsors is positive as the event will now be broadcast on free television,” said Leung. “With the support of the government’s matching fund, we should be able to secure the required funding.”