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Countdown to Paralympic Cycling at Brands Hatch Begins - 5 Sep 2011

The countdown to the 2012 Paralympic Games road cycling has started today (Monday), with one year to go before Brands Hatch hosts the events. The legendary Kent circuit will become the focus of the Paralympic Games on 5-8 September 2012.

Brands Hatch is the only venue in Kent to host an event during the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games and the county is busy preparing for the races. This will include an extension of nearby Swanley rail station as 2012 fever grips the nation.

For Brands Hatch it will be a return to the circuit's roots as it started as a cycle venue in the early 20th century. The connection continues as like motor racing, Paralympic cycling has been transformed by technology since its inception in 1984. Originally a sport for blind athletes on tandem bicycles, it is now open to those with cerebral palsy, amputations or other physical disabilities across 12 classes.

The original tandem class is still run and is joined by handcycles, tricycles as well as specially modified bicycles and the colour of the cyclists' helmets reflects the class they compete in. There are two types of events; the road race where all competitors start at the same time, and time trials, raced against the clock.

British hopes include Darren Kenny, Britain's most successful Paralympic cyclist. An accident in the 1988 Junior Tour of Ireland at 19 left him with serious head and neck injuries, cutting his able-bodied cycling career short and the 41-year old didn't return to the sport until 2000. He is aiming for five gold medals next year across the cycling events, after winning four at the 2008 Beijing games and two at Athens in 2004.

Also expected to compete will be Rachel Morris, who won Gold in the 2008 Beijing Time Trials. Rachel saw the circuit for herself when she attended the announcement event at Brands Hatch in May.

The course will utilise much of the Brands Hatch Grand Prix circuit, with its challenging corners, including Paddock Hill bend, which will be taken in its original uphill direction. The circuit access roads are also used, plus surrounding streets. However the stadium section with its natural amphitheatre and spectator facilities is sure to be popular with the crowds.

Approximately 225 athletes from around 40 nations will participate in the road cycling events, which will consist of mass start road races ranging from 30km to 120km and individual and team time trials ranging from 20km to 35km.

Tickets for the Paralympic cycling events will be on sale to the general public from Friday 9 September and start at £10.  However, MSV has secured an allocation of free tickets for all four days of the competition to be issued to those with a valid Residents Pass in 2012 (maximum of two per household).  Full details of the application process and terms and conditions of use will be communicated with the Christmas card deliveries in December 2011.