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newsid: 185574

UCI World Cycling Centre celebrates two Keirin UCI World Champions

Women's Keirin UCI World Champion Nicky Degrendele (BEL)

Four years after winning the Junior UCI World title in the keirin, Belgium’s Nick Degrendele, still only 21, has become Elite UCI World Champion in the same discipline.

On the final day of the UCI Track Cycling World Championships presented by Tissot in Apeldoorn, the Netherlands, Degrendele kept her nerve throughout the rounds – and up against strong competition - to claim the rainbow jersey. Last year the UCI World Cycling Centre (WCC) trainee won the bronze medal in the same event.

“At the moment it’s still unbelievable,” said the new UCI World Champion. “I can’t believe I’m going to be able to wear the rainbow jersey for the next year. I knew the competition was going to be very hard and I was not prepared for the title. I don’t think you can ever be prepared for that, which is what makes winning even better!”

The young athlete first arrived in Aigle in March 2016 for a three-week assessment and training period. Her talent and potential were obvious, and she was quickly invited back, basing herself at the UCI WCC for the last five months of 2016 and most of last year.

“This is a great success story for the UCI World Cycling Centre,” said UCI WCC High Performance Manager Belinda Tarling. “It shows how the UCI WCC and National Federations can work together to help athletes reach the very highest level. We are delighted to have been part of Nicky’s progression and we are thrilled by her world title.”

Women's Keirin UCI World Champion Nicky Degrendele (BEL)

The athlete herself was full of praise for the UCI WCC: “I learned a lot when I was training in Switzerland. I developed as a rider due to consistent and specific training schedules, getting enough rest and eating correctly. I matured a lot and made training a priority. Every day there was something to learn, as a cyclist and as a person. The best aspects were the consistency of training, getting to learn how a top athlete should live, getting to know myself and the friendships I made during my stay.

“The training was hard, obviously, and missing home just as hard. You get to experience things that some people might never experience in their lifetime, but you cannot share them with your family." The Belgian athlete adds: 

"There were lonely times, a lot of emotions but if they asked me to do it again I would do exactly the same!.”

UCI WCC Coach Scott Bugden, who was in Apeldoorn to watch her winning performance, recalls Degrendele’s first visit to Aigle: “She showed potential straight away, and her medals at Junior level were proof of that.

“There are lots of areas where you can make a difference both on and off the bike, including increasing confidence and making better decisions in races. Probably where Nicky made the biggest progress while training in Aigle was her bike handling and confidence, daring to get close to other riders and get through the gaps.”

Former trainee claims Men Elite world title

Men's Keirin UCI World Champion Fabian Hernando Puertas Zapata (COL)

Meanwhile, the newly-crowned Men’s Keirin UCI World Champion Fabian Hernando Puertas Zapata, spent three months at the UCI World Cycling Centre during the 2011-2012 track season. Since then, he has enjoyed several victories at UCI World Cup level – including the overall UCI World Cup titles in the Keirin and the individual sprint in 2014-2015 – and silver medals in the Keirin at the 2014 and 2017 UCI Track Cycling World Championships. This year is the first time he has claimed the rainbow jersey.

UCI World Cycling Centre Director Frédéric Magné said: “This aim of our international training centre, which is recognised by the International Olympic Committee, is to detect talented athletes, accompany them through the various stages of their development and help them realise their full potential. It is always a pleasure to see our current and former trainees reaching the top of their sport.”