Huge effort from Para-cyclists in LA

It was Dane Wilson, Jaco Nel, Stephan Herholdt and Janos Plekker’s time to shine as they tackled their 1000m time trial race during the final days of the 2012 UCI Para-cycling Track World Championships in Los Angeles (USA).

Our top performer was Nel (C2) with a 5th place finish from a solid ride, although he slipped in a few corners.  Nel has shown that he is definitely in good form to earn a medal, but needs to hone his technical abilities in the lead up to the London Paralympics.

Nel’s fifth place could’ve been a 4th place had it not been for a C3 Chinese rider having been down classed to the C2 category and claiming a world record in the process.  The UCI classification system can produce unexpected developments during this tough level of competition.

Wilson (C5), Plekker (C4) and Herholdt (C4) performed as expected, with Herholdt finishing 14th and Plekker 19th recording a 1:15.688 and 1:18.751 respectively.  Wilson finished in 15th place in a time of 1:14.310 and showed that he has superb development potential for the next few years.

Roxy Burns finished 5th in her 3000m pursuit qualifying event, knocking 2-seconds off her time from last year’s World Championships.  Even though Roxy did not qualify for the finals, she clocked a new personal best and established a new South African record in the process!

The 3-circuit (750 m) sprint involved three South African riders – Nel, Herholdt and Wilson.  The team performed very well in this final part of the event program, finishing in 7th place (out of about 20 competing nations), which reflected an improvement compared to the 9th place finish in 2011.  A great way to finish the World Championships!

SA’s Track Para-cyclists will return to South Africa this week, and will endure a tense three to four weeks awaiting announcements from the UCI of the number of para-cycling slots to be allocated to South Africa for the 2012 London Paralympic Games and from Cycling SA regarding the team that will be selected to fill these slots.

For the Paralympic team, the SA National Championships scheduled for March (road) and April (track) 2012 and the three UCI Para-cycling World Cup events to be held in Italy, Spain and Canada this year will be the main platforms to prepare for London 2012.