Cyclist Cheung King-lok unlikely to return to professional team Orica-Scott next season
The 2016 Asian Championships double titlist is still struggling to regain his best form after a disappointing Rio Olympics
Struggling cyclist Cheung King-lok’s chances of extending his two-year stay with Australian pro team Orica-Scott are slim.
Cheung became the first Hong Kong rider to join a team competing on the UCI World Tour last year after clinching a double at the 2016 Asian Championships, winning the men’s road race and the time trial in Japan.
However, he missed the entire racing season with Orica this year, even though his name is on the team roster for the 2017 season – which ended with the traditional completion of the World Championships in Bergen, Norway last week.
Cheung enjoyed some of his best cycling in his first season with Orica when he raced in Europe ahead of the 2016 Olympics, but he dropped out of the scene after a disappointing 2016 Rio Olympic Games where he failed to finish the 240-kilometre road race.
“I still want to go back to Orica as I love racing at the highest level, especially those top races in Europe, but I know this is not my sole decision,” said Cheung, who also represented Hong Kong in Bergen but could not finish the 260km race won by Peter Sagan, the 27-year-old Slovakian becoming the first rider ever to secure three consecutive victories.
“There is also the Asian Games in Indonesia next year which will be the primary target for all Hong Kong team members. I’ll talk to the coach to see how he wants me to prepare for the Asian Games, but returning to Orica may not be that likely.
“I suffered some ups and downs with my form after the 2016 Olympic Games and the thing I want to do most now is to get back to stringent training so that I can regain my best form. I am 26 and it’s not considered too old in the road race. There are still chances ahead.”
Cheung said he was really impressed by the 260-kilometre race in Bergen, although once again he failed to finish the extra-long distance.
“It’s so demanding that you need some extraordinary endurance power to make it and we have seldom trained for such a long distance. But it’s a massive experience that always tempts you to come back,” he said.
Orica will be sending six riders to the Hong Kong Cyclothon next week, but Cheung was not considered for the UCI 1.1 class criterium race in Tsim Sha Tsui East because he will be racing in the Asia Track Cups in India and Thailand.
Hong Kong head coach Shen Jinkang said the 2018 Asian Games programmes were just confirmed and they had to consider the best riders for the best events to foster Hong Kong’s medal hopes.
“The Indonesians have dropped both the men’s and women’s madison on the track which is one of our strong areas,” said the coach. “All other Olympic classes are there and we need to formulate a strategy before kicking off our preparation campaign, including how we can deal with Cheung’s case.”