By: Michelle Liew
National track cycling champion Datuk Mohd Azizulhasni Awang showed positive progress after returning to action in the opening round of the UCI Track Champions League (TCL) which took place in Mallorca, Spain on Saturday (Nov 12).
After a long layoff following heart surgery last April, "The Pocket Rocketman" ended his favourite event by finishing fourth in the first round of action at the Illes Ballears Velodrome.
“I’m happy to put on the skin suit again and reunite with coach John (Beasley) for a competition,” beamed Azizul,” says Azizul as quoted from The Star.
“It took almost 24 hours of flight time to reach here and not counting the transit hours, but I had time to recover. I’m just happy to be here racing, which I have not managed to do for some time.
“I was actually invited for the inaugural season last year after the Olympics, but I wanted to take a break. Then later I had to deal with my heart condition. But the world body invited me again to compete.
“I was hesitant on whether to make a comeback to competition as the plan was to return late December at the earliest and avoid long travels. But after discussing with my coach, I accepted the invite because it’s a good place for me to make my comeback. This is the place where I made my world championships debut back in 2007.”
Australian rider Matthew Richardson won the race followed by compatriot Thomas Cornish while Japanese rider Shinji Nakano came in third in the keirin event.
World Champion Harrie Lavreysen of The Netherlands won the final whereas Stefan Botticher of Germany ended the race in second place and Richardson in third place.
Meanwhile in the sprint event, Azizulhasni finished the second leg of the first round in second place behind Israeli rider Mikhail Yakovlev. Richardson showed his prowess in the sprint event by beating Lavreysen to emerge as champion.
The next TCL race will take place in Berlin, Germany on Nov 19 followed by Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines, France (Nov 26) and two consecutive races in London on Dec 2 and 3.