Great Britain’s Kiera Byland is preparing to defend her road race and time trial titles at the 2018 International Federation for Athletes with Intellectual Impairments (INAS) Cycling World Championships in Paris, France, from 14-22 July.
The 20-year-old shocked the field in 2017 when she claimed double gold on her debut in Assen, the Netherlands.
Now Byland is heading to Paris with more training and confidence than ever before.
“To be honest, I would like to win. But I am just going to try my best. If I do my best and I win, I win. If I come second, I come second. If I come third, I come third. But I’m just going to try my best,” she said.
“Every rider says they would like to win, that’s the ultimate aim. But a personal best also.”
When Byland set out on the time trial – the opening event – last year she did so having never raced on an open road. The rider had only ever seen it done on television.
But with the support of her father, who she trains with, the youngster even surprised herself:
“It was very good, but it was nerve-wracking because there were cars on there, different surfaces to what we’re used too – they had cobbles as well! It was nice, even though there were side winds and obviously you could puncture as well.
“There were new riders that I hadn’t raced against before and obviously they have different techniques that I had to adapt too. It was just a really exciting and positive introduction.
“And everyone was really excited because I was new, they’d never seen me race before. And I think that added to the excitement as well – that you have new riders coming in.”
Having started cycling when she was 12 following a taster session at the Manchester Velodrome, Byland explained why she took up sport.
“The reason I do sport is because at school, I never used to have very many friends at all. So I used to make my friends though my sport. So it was good because they were interested in the sport itself and so was I.”
Now a fully fledged member of the cycling community, Byland trains five days a week as well as on the roads with her father. Her kit is provided by British Cycling and she does weekly core stability training and physiotherapy at the University of Bolton’s Elite Athlete Programme.
Byland also has a coach who she says inspires her to improve and win over the likes of France’s Aurelie Minodier, the former world champion who she beat to the line in Assen.
Byland will face Minodier again in Paris. Time will tell if she can repeat her incredible performance, but she is looking forward to wearing the British jersey:
“I’m really excited to go and compete and hopefully I’ll do well,” she said. “I wish other competitors the best as well. I’m really excited to represent my country.”
The 2018 INAS Cycling World Championships will take place as part of the INAS European Summer Games. Eight other sports are on the programme, including tennis which will also be a World Championships.