HONG KONG'S hopes of having a full cycling team at the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games were dashed when Wong Kam-po, Man Wai-chung and Ng Kwok-wah all failed to finish in the recent World Championships road race in Duitama, Colombia. The top 34 riders by country in the 177-kilometre road race earn their national team a place in the Atlanta line-up, and Hong Kong coach Shen Jinkang was pinning his hopes on Kam-po, the 1991 Asian junior champion. Kam-po was left to fly the territory's colours alone less than one-third of the way into the 10-lap race when Wai-chung and Kwok-wah were both lapped and had to retire. And Hong Kong's hopes were completely shattered on the seventh lap when Kam-po was also caught by the leading peloton. 'There is no excuse - the fitness level of our riders lagged far behind the Europeans and Americans, and we were left gasping for breath only a couple of kilometres into the race,' said Shen. 'It was totally unexpected that the race would start off at such a fast pace. That killed off all the lesser riders. In the end, only about a quarter of the 238 competitors finished.' Kam-po, however, will still be going to Atlanta, having booked his own ticket by coming third in the Asian Championships, held in the Philippines earlier this year. 'The early pace was so fast that I virtually burnt myself out trying to keep up, and the 2,400-metre plus altitude at Duitama made it even worse,' said a dejected Kam-po. 'I'll now focus on next year's Olympic Games, with the World Championships now out of the way.' The Hong Kong Cycling Association are looking further ahead. They will put their efforts into 'blooding' young riders still in their early teens. HKCA senior sports executive Walter Yue Ka-lok said: 'We've picked about eight children between 13 and 17 years from our track introductory programme for development squad training. 'They are very dedicated and come for training on alternate days. 'If they keep it up, we could have our strongest cycling squad ever in three to four years time.'