Gear-ing up to catch foreign rivals

Track cyclist Shah Firdaus Sahrom believes Malaysian riders are on par with their foreign rivals when it comes to gear selection.

Shah said the national squad, who have been gradually increasing their gear sizes in recent years, have now reached optimal level.

Track bikes, unlike their road counterparts, are fixed-gear machines. Though bigger gears are harder to accelerate on, they allow for a higher top speed which is crucial in events such as the sprint and keirin.

Shah stressed on the need for continual improvement across all areas in a constantly evolving sport.

"We always strive for improvement because every year, sports science changes and the riding styles are also different," said Shah.

"Every time there is a competition, we will always see the other competitors coming up with something new.

"In the past we struggled to use big gears (due to Malaysian riders' smaller physique) but since 2019 we have slowly been increasing it (gear size).

"Now, we have finally matched the other nations in terms of gear size. The goal now is not to further increase the gear size but to further strengthen our abilities and push harder.

"We are already at that level, we just have to touch up a few aspects."

National elite squad head coach John Beasley has emphasised on improving his charges' power-to-weight ratio since the 2016 Rio Olympics, and their ability to push bigger gears today is a result of that focus.

Shah added that he is expecting updates to be made to the WX-R Vorteq bike that he, Azizulhasni Awang and Fadhil Zonis have been using in the past few seasons ahead of the 2024 Paris Olympics.

The bike, made from a combination of titanium and carbon fibre, is said to be the lightest and most aerodynamic in its class when it was first unveiled in 2020.

"I have heard there will be improvements made to the bike next season, it is normal for every country to update their bikes for each Olympic cycle.

"We will probably be going into the wind tunnel for testing. But I wouldn't know what kind of changes or gains will be made, that is up to them (engineers) and the coach," said Shah who will compete in the Asian Championships in New Delhi on June 18-22.

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