TEAM TTO’s Nicholas Paul pedalled his way to a historic silver medal at the 2021 Tissot UCI Track Cycling World Championships in Roubaix, France, yesterday.

The feat came in the men’s kilometre time-trial as he completed four laps of the 250m track in 59.791 seconds. Two-time world champion Jeffrey Hoogland of the Netherlands dominated with a speedy :58.418 to take the gold and add to his men’s keirin title from Thursday night. Germany’s Joachim Eilers claimed the bronze in 1:00.008.

The rest of the riders followed with Poland’s Patryk Rajkowski (1:00.624), defending champion Sam Ligtlee (1:00.669) of the Netherlands, the Russian Cycling Federation’s Alexander Sharapov (!:00.928), Spain’s Alejandro Martinez Chorro (1:01.213) and Japan’s Yula Obara (1:01.385), in that order.

The Trinidad and Tobago Cycling Federation (TTCF) hailed Paul’s achievement, the first “Worlds” cycling medal in 30 years for this country.

“Just want to say that this is a very historic and exciting time for cycling. We congratulate Nicholas on this outstanding performance and wish him all the best in the upcoming sprint event,” said the local cycling governing body.

Meanwhile, Samuel described the performance as “fantastic”.

“I know how elated he must be feeling right now. I visualise my own feelings years ago and I get emotional just thinking about it. So I know how he feels. Fantastic and long overdue for Trinidad and Tobago. The men’s cycling seems to be doing some positive vibes...I have always said we have a lot of God-given talent in the Caribbean...Nicholas and other riders now have access to world-rated coaches so I expect a lot more gold medals from Nicholas going forward.”

Samuel said while the local public seems to only focus on medals, Paul has proven himself at the world level with his top-eight performances at the Tokyo Olympics and the UCI Nations Cup, and now UCI Tissot Track Cycling World Championships, more than his world record ride in Bolivia in 2019. “He is world-rated and his opponents have a real force to contend with now because he is really motivated,” said Samuel.

Paul clocked 59.269 seconds in the qualifying round, behind Dutchman Hoogland in the 23-man qualifying field, as both riders dipped below the minute-mark.

Paul returns to the track today in the qualifying rounds of his pet event, the men’s sprint, while compatriot Akil Campbell takes to the track in the men’s four-event omnium.