The Southland-based para-cycling pairing of Phillipa Gray and pilot Kylie Young will make their world championship debut together in Mexico this week, along with fellow Southland sighted pilot Laura Fairweather who will debut with para-cycling's newest star Emma Foy.
The tandem duo are part of a six-strong New Zealand team competing in the UCI Para-cycling track world championships in Aguascalientes from today until April 14.
The team is headlined by Paralympic medallists Fiona Southorn and tandem cyclists Phillipa Gray and Laura Fairweather (sighted pilot).
Gray and Fairweather won the trifecta at the London 2012 Paralympic Games with outstanding performances that included a world record.
Southorn won bronze in the 3km pursuit and was New Zealand's first medallist in London.
This is the first world track championships since the London 2012 Paralympics and the gap year has given the opportunity for some experimentation within the tandem combinations.
Gray will take to the bike in the new pairing with pilot Kylie Young, who was formerly the pilot for well-known para-cyclist Jayne Parsons, while Fairweather will ride with rookie stoker Emma Foy.
Foy burst onto the scene in August, winning a bronze medal at the world road championships in her first year of racing.
The sixth member of the team is former Paralympic track star and silver medallist Kate Horan, who moved into cycling two years ago and is excited about competing in her first world championships.
The team will be led by head performance coach Brendon Cameron.
"We are quietly confident about this team as we believe we have prepared very wisely for these championships being held at altitude," Cameron said.
"This event was announced very late in the annual calendar and, with the host city of Aguascalientes being set at 1880m above sea level, we had a very short time to develop a specific altitude training programme. During the past five weeks we used some unique New Zealand resources that we've never used before, including the Snow Farm in Wanaka, and altitude simulation labs throughout the country."
Article and photo courtesy Fairfax