Para-cyclists push limits on Africa Bike City’s streets

The sheer competition today between international cyclists at incredible speeds in some places on what has been dubbed as a shorter but fast World Cup course was on display in the road races at the 2015 UCI Para-cycling Road World Cup Pietermaritzburg, on Saturday. For the first time in this internationally acclaimed bike city, the efforts of such amazing athletes has been on show and our local South African cyclists have represented our country with such aplomb.

Women’s H3 road race winner and winner of the World Cup series, Alicia Dana (USA), has enjoyed her trip to South Africa so far. “My time trial yesterday was good, but tough with some hills. I managed to win by a good margin, which gave me enough confidence for today’s race and win.”

First time World Cup participant, Palesa Manaleng (H3), experienced the high level of competition first hand. “Yesterday was my first ever time trial. In the morning I felt that I had practiced two days before hand and it would all be good. But when it started and everyone started passing me, I realised that I was in a different league altogether. And then my chain came off and my gear changer broke off, and I was just so overwhelmed, but I had to finish. I was slightly disappointed.

“I went to bed last night thinking, “Okay, this is the day that I show them that this newcomer is in town”. And for the first ten minutes I was right there. I was there just behind the American. And then we got to our first uphill, and they were gone.

“I told myself that when I came around the corner I’d catch up, but they were still gone. So I kept going and going and then when they came around for their second lap, they had then caught up to me. It was overall a great experience and I have no regrets. I did jump into the deep end but that’s the only way you learn how to swim,” she concluded.

American William Groulx won the Men’s H2 race by nearly two minutes in his 24.6km race. “Well it’s been pretty fantastic. I’ve had a couple of great results. Your country is beautiful, and the host organisation has been fantastic and the racing has been really great all the way across the board. We were expecting rain today, but the weather has been the perfect condition for cycling. I’m looking forward to the next few Para events in South Africa,” he said.

The Men’s H4 and H5 races offered another thrilling display of athleticism as they powered their handcycles around the track for nine laps (55.4km). The 10-rider group in the H4 class raced in a tight bunch for the first few laps until the bunch was whittled down to five riders. It was Vico Merklein (GER) who claimed the gold medal in a sprint finish with Rafal Wilk (POL).

South Africa’s Ernst van Dyk claimed the gold medal in the Men’s H5 race in a sizzling sprint finish with Dutch rider Tim de Vries. Van Dyk, De Vries, Oscar Sanchez (USA) and Stuart Tripp (AUS) stayed in a tight group for most of the race. Sanchez unfortunately suffered a mechanical early in the race, but recovered later to finish in an incredible fourth place!

“I’m very chuffed,” said Van Dyk. “Out of eight races this season it is the first race that I didn’t have a mechanical. So to win a gold, and in South Africa, is something really special. I think the organisation is on par here with any race we have ever done overseas. There are minor improvements on some of the road surfaces that need to be done here and there. But besides that and the chilly weather, everything has been great.”

Van Dyk’s gold medal was the fourth for the day after Justine Asher (WH2) and Pieter du Preez (MH1) won their respective races earlier in the day, with Goldy Fuchs (T2) earning his gold medal at the end of the day.

Carol Cooke (AUS), gold medallist in the Women’s T2 race, said “It is my first time in South Africa so it is pretty cool. I never thought at my age that I would be doing this anyway, but the race was really good. I was beaten at the World Championships last month for the first time since 2012 by Jill Walsh (USA), so it was kind of “let’s see what I can do”. I learnt a lot of lessons in Switzerland at Worlds and I applied it a bit differently.

“I’ve always been the one that has been out front, so it is really nice to have more cyclists coming up that I can have competition with. But having never had that competition, I had to learn a bit of tactics.”

Bruce Dempster, who is involved in the organisation Disability Connection, spoke about the importance of an event of this stature to Pietermaritzburg. “The Disabled Sports Club in Pietermaritzburg is actually doing a wheelchair race in Richmond at the moment with the Richmond Disabled Sports Club. Some of them will come here in the afternoon to watch the cycle racing, and some others will come through tomorrow.

“Having this event in Pietermaritzburg is good for the promotion of the sport in the region. The guys that are here are enjoying the outing and it’s really to show them that there is more to life than just sitting around when you are disabled.

“They were hoping to race here as they race in wheelchairs at the moment but I had to explain that this is a very high level of racing. Now at least they can see what is required from them in terms of training and performance.”

The 2015 UCI Para-cycling Road World Cup – Pietermaritzburg (11-13 September 2015) will have two competition venues with the time trial competition being staged in the Midmar Dam complex on Friday 11 September and the road races in the city of Pietermaritzburg using Alexandra Park as the official competition venue on Saturday 12 and Sunday 13 September. For more information, visit: http://www.cyclingsa.com/2015-uci-para-road-world-cup/.

Summary of results – 2015 Para-cycling Road World Cup Pietermaritzburg

For the full list of results, visit http://www.cyclingsa.com/2015-uci-para-road-world-cup/

Saturday 12 September 2015 – Road Races

Men’s H2 (24.6km – 4 laps)
1.William Groulx (USA) 00:49:07
2.Tobias Fankhauser (SUI) 00:50:45
3.Yaakov Kobi Lion (ISR) 00:52:24

Men’s H1 (18.5km – 3 laps)
1.Pieter du Preez (RSA) 00:54:15
2.Teppo Polvi (FIN) 00:55:09
3.Benjamin Frueh (SUI) 00:58:32

Women’s H2 (18.5km – 3 laps)
1.Justine Asher (RSA) 00:47:31
2.Carmen Koedood (NED) 01:03:56

Men’s H3 (55.4km – 9 laps)
1.Jean Francois Deberg (BEL) 01:36:40
2.Max Weber (GER) 01:36:40
3.Heinz Frei (SUI) 01:36:40

Women’s H5 (43.1km – 7 laps)
1.Laura de Vaan (NED) 01:26:00
2.Dorothee Vieth (GER) 01:26:00

Women’s H4 (43.1km – 7 laps)
1.Christiane Reppe (GER) 01:26:27
2.Sandra Graf (SUI) 01:31:36
3.Svetlana Moshkovich (RUS) 01:34:56

Women’s H3 (43.1km – 7 laps)
1.Alicia Dana (USA) 01:28:42
2.Karen Darke (GBR) 01:33:26
3.Katerina Antosova (CZE) 01:40:31

Men’s H4 (55.4km – 9 laps)
1.Vico Merklein (GER) 01:31:46
2.Rafal Wilk (POL) 01:31:46
3.Jonas van de Steene (BEL) 01:32:57

Men’s H5 (55.4km – 9 laps)
1.Ernst van Dyk (RSA) 01:43:11
2.Tim de Vries (NED) 01:43:11
3.Stuart Tripp (AUS) 01:43:33

Men’s T1 (24.6km – 4 laps)
1.Sergey Semochkin (RUS) 00:54:45
2.Rickard Nilsson (SWE) 00:58:58
3.Gerald George Rex (RSA) 00:59:01

Men’s T2 (24.6km – 4 laps)
1.Goldy Fuchs (RSA) 00:45:43
2.Hans-Peter Durst (GER) 00:45:43
3.Ryan Boyle (USA) 00:46:06

Women’s T1 (18.5km – 3 laps)
1.Shelley Gautier (CAN) 00:47:19
2.Bianca Woolford (AUS) 00:59:26
3.Yulia Sibagatova (RUS) 01:00:34

Women’s T2 (18.5km – 3 laps)
1.Carol Cooke (AUS) 00:40:35
2.Jill Walsh (USA) 00:42:02
3.Jana Majunke (GER) 00:42:45