Azizulhasni to further test himself in Japan Track Cup series

NILAI: National track cyclist Azizulhasni Awang is looking to fine-tune his preparations for the Paris Olympics at next week's Japan Track Cup series (May 9-12).

Despite not using his full racing setup, Azizulhasni breezed to victories in the individual sprint and the keirin on the first day of the President's Cup series at the National Velodrome in Nilai yesterday.

He is not competing today — in the final day of the President's Cup, which features up and coming riders from Malaysia, South East Asia and Australia — due to other commitments and will travel to Japan on Monday.

The former world keirin champion is expecting to face tougher opposition at the Izu Velodrome.

"Japan will be another warm-up race for me but it will be of higher intensity because the top riders from Japan, Australia and New Zealand will be there," said Azizulhasni yesterday.

"This includes Ota Kaiya, whom I raced against during last year's Asian Championships here (Nilai).

"The volume of racing will also be higher — the sprint and keirin events will last one day each.

"The plan will be similar to here. I will purposely try to place myself in a difficult position during the races and try to overcome the challenges I face.

"This is how you improve.

"At the end of the day, it is about getting in the extra race mileage I need before the Olympics."

Ota won two gold at the Hangzhou Asian Games last year and is expected to be a medal contender in Paris.

Azizulhasni confirmed that he will not be using the latest iteration of the WX-R Vorteq bike in Japan.

The bike could, however, make its competitive debut at the Belgium Open on June 28-30, which will likely be the national riders last competition before Paris.

The top track cycling nations usually use a new bike for every Olympic cycle with developments often kept a secret until they are launched. The latest bikes are often more aerodynamic, stiffer and feature more efficient drivetrains.

Shah Firdaus Sahrom and Izzah Izzati Asri will also be using the new bike in Paris.

Izzah also impressed in the President's Cup yesterday, making her opponents look pedestrian en route to winning the individual sprint and keirin.

Endurance rider Abdul Azim Aliyas also did well to win the men's 15km scratch race yesterday.

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