Azizul out to regain ‘racing feeling’ in Champions League

Azizulhasni Awang will be back on the saddle sooner than expected. Azizul, who is hoping to make gradual progress after undergoing open heart surgery back in April, announced that he will be competing in the UCI Track Champions League series next month. The UCI Track is a prestigious one-day sprint competition involving 18 men and 18 women cyclists that will take place in four European cities, and will be broadcast live on the major networks there. The cyclists also need to qualify for the competition but a special exemption was made for Azizul due to his status as the Tokyo Olympic silver medallist and a former world No. 1 ranked cyclist. “To all my supporters and followers, I have very exciting news to share with you guys,’’ the 34-year-old Azizul posted on his social media accounts. “I was invited by the UCI to race at the Track Champions League for this season. “I can’t wait to put on the skinsuit again and perform in front of you guys. The races will take place in Mallorca (Nov 12), Berlin (Nov 19), St Quentin En Yvelines (Nov 26), London (Dec 2) and (Dec 3). “To all my supporters, please come and support me.” It was only in April that Azizul had to go for a life-saving heart operation in Melbourne after he was diagnosed with anomalous aortic origin of the right coronary artery. He missed the recent Commonwealth Games in Birmingham and it was only in August where he got back to light bike training as part of the rehabilitation process. That Azizul will return to competition in six months time is nothing short of amazing but he is not expected to make an all-out push and the objective will be more to regain the racing feeling. “My main objective is to get back to top shape for the Hangzhou Asiad in September next year. I have not competed for so long and I want to get the feeling back first. “I was also invited after the Olympics last year but I turned it down as I wanted to spend time with my family,” added the world keirin champion, fondly called the ‘Pocket Rocketman’. Azizul is one of four Asian cyclists in the men’s sprint competition.The star-studded men’s roster includes no less than eight newly crowned world champions. These include Dutchmen Jeffrey Hoogland, who won his seventh rainbow jersey in the 1km time trial at the Track World Championships in Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines in France earlier this month and Harrie Lavreysen the keirin world champion; Australia’s Thomas Cornish, who helped his nation to victory in the team sprint event and Matthew Richardson the Birmingham Commonwealth Games sprint gold medallist. THE CAST Men: Harrie Lavreysen (Ned), Matthew Richardson (Aus), Stefan Botticher (Ger), Kevin Quintero (Col), Mikhail Yakovlev (Isr), Shinji Nakano (Jpn), Jeffrey Hoogland (Ned), Mateusz Rudyk (Pol), Esow Esow (Ind), Jair Tjon En Fa (TT), Rayan Helal (Fra), Sergey Ponomaryov (Kaz), Joe Truman (Gbr), Sergio Ramirez (Col), Tom Derache (Fra), Thomas Cornish (Aus), Jai Angsuthasawit (Tha). Women: Lea Friedrich (Ger), Mathilde Gros (Fra), Kelsey Mitchell (Can), Martha Bayona Pineda (Col), Shanne Braspennincx (Ned), Taky Marie-Divine Kouame (Fra), Laurine Van Riessen (Ned), Pauline Grabosch (Ger), Steffie Van Der Peet (Ned), Hetty Van Der Wouw (Ned), Sophie Capewell (Gbr), Olena Starikova (Ukr), Daniela Gaxiola Gonzalez (Mex), Urszula Los (Pol), Kristina Clonan (Aus), Helena Casas Roige (Spa), Emma Finucane (Gbr), Miriam Vece (Ita).

Courtesy from – The Star