Two major operations have forced Craig McCann to put the brakes on his 2014 para-cycling season - but he still took top honours.
In his debut para-cycling season, 31-year-old McCann won a number of races which catapulted him to the top of the league table, and there’s been no budging him since.
Among his highlights includes the impressive performance at a national race which saw him take first place and the coveted stripey jersey despite starting one lap behind his opponent due to classification rules.
However, McCann - who had life-saving surgery on a brain tumour back in 2004 - has had to de-saddle his cycling season so that he could undergo two major operations on his face and neck.
“Unfortunately, my season is effectively over. However, I’d done enough to keep first place,” said the Bessacarr race ace.
“It’s my follow-up surgery from the brain tumour. Ever since that operation, I’ve been having plastic surgery on my face and neck to get everything back to where it was before.
“The first one took place in August and was nothing major but the second one in October is a big one. That will mean taking some time off before I get back out on my bike.
“It’s fallen quite well because if you’re going to have time off, then this is the time to do it in para-cycling.
“However, I know I’ll be eager to get back on the bike and get some good training in so I shouldn’t be away from the road for too long.”
Despite his setback, McCann, who now lives in Durham, has been pleased with how his first ever para-cycling season has gone since switching to the sport after leaving wheelchair fencing where he was a Great British athlete in London’s 2012 Paralympics.
And as his dream of competing in the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio continues on course, McCann is hoping his performances this season have been recognised by the British Cycling team.
That includes his impressive display at Darley Moor where he took the BC National Paracycling Road Circuit Championships title in August.
“I got an email through before the Nationals saying that due to classification, I would be starting a lap behind my opponent who was female,” he told the Free Press.
“I burst out of the tracks to make up this lap and managed to do it in 20 minutes so then I was having to fend off a chasing pack of about 25 riders to maintain first place.
“I knew that the other cyclists would try and get on my back wheel if I couldn’t shake them off. That’s the last place you want them to be because they can pick you off.
“Luckily, I managed to do everything I wanted and I collected the win and the stripey jersey which was a massive honour.
“That’s what you’re fighting for in the Nationals - you want that jersey. So, to win it, I was delighted.”
McCann’s competitive season begins again next April as he bids to race his way into the GB Paralympics squad.
Photo by David Perry.