World Para-cyclists triumph in grand finale

In the most ideal cycling conditions and after such competitive cycling over the last two days, the final day of the UCI Para-cycling Road World Cup in Pietermaritzburg delivered the most incredible performances from such dedicated and professional cyclists during Sunday’s road racing programme. Alongside the effort of the cyclists and their support teams, immense effort has been made throughout the event to stage what has been in may instances one of the highest quality Para-cycling events across the world.

For the first time ever in a Para-cycling World Cup, all of the racing action was broadcast on live streaming with thousands of viewers being able to watch live cycling and commentary daily. Nothing however must dilute the achievements of every athlete during the last three days, which can only be described as a comprehensive triumph over life’s challenges.

The men’s C-classes kicked off the day’s action with Australia securing a gold and silver medal in the Men’s C5 race after Michael Gallagher broke away on the second lap of 12 and soloed his way to victory for just over 60km.

“The race was very fast in the first couple of laps,” said Gallagher. “I managed to take the gap after my teammate set up an attack, and it paid off. I was feeling pretty strong but still, there was 60km to go from when I first pulled away from the front. It was a long way to go but I seemed to hold the gap each lap. I gave it all that I had up the hills mainly on the last couple of laps.”

South African Craig Ridgard was elated to have won the sprint with Israel Hilario Rimas from Peru for the silver medal in the Men’s C2 race. “The race went well, it was very hectic. But I’d like to thank Cycling South Africa and the SA Para-cycling Committee for putting on a fantastic event. It is a good showcase for South Africa. I’m at the end of my season; I’ve been racing since January so I’m running on fumes. I’m very grateful about getting a silver medal and it is good to end my season this way.”

The tandem races for the visually impaired riders produced yet another thrilling display of cycling. The blind or visually impaired cyclists sit at the back of the bike, which is co-powered by their pilot up front. The men’s race saw Carlos Gonzalez Garcia and Noel Martin Infante (ESP) power to a decisive victory after leading the way for three quarters of the race. Their compatriots Ignacio Rodriguez and Joan Bertoli claimed silver while Great Britain’s Stephen Bate and Adam Duggleby won the bronze medal in a sprint finish against Canada.

A three-way sprint in the women’s tandem race saw Great Britain’s Lora Turnham and Corrine Hall claim the victory against an independent team from Belgium (2nd) and the Spanish team (3rd). “It was fantastic to race against the best bikes in the world and come away with a win in the time trial and road race. It is a great way to finish off the last World Cup race of 2015. South Africa has been good to us!” said Turnham.

Anna Harkowska (POL) made a decisive attack on German Kerstin Brachtendorf within the final kilometre to claim the gold medal in the women’s C5 race. “I’m very happy with my first place. I had cramp when I stood out of the saddle; when it is cold I suffer from cramp but I finished well. It is interesting for all the countries to be here in South Africa, but we need more people to come and watch us. I think this event, with television, has been fantastic. This morning I could watch the tandem race and I learned some tactics. It is also good for those sitting at home, and the coverage has been great.”

The team relay wrapped up a brilliant weekend of racing in the southern hemisphere, with Team USA taking top honours. Three riders from each team took to the shortened 1.4km lap to complete nine laps (three laps each). Belgium finished second with Germany in third.

“The team relay is one race that we’re always strong at,” said American Oscar Sanchez (H5). “But its all about execution as a team – no one wins it individually obviously. Looking at the results from everybody’s relay efforts, we were stacked to win, so at this point it was only our race to lose. I just kept talking to my team because we’ve lost the race to ourselves several times this season. We pulled it off and at the end of the day it’s a win, and we are World Cup leaders and I’m happy.”

Cycling South Africa Para-cycling Commission Director, Dr Mike Burns, said that the team was in high spirits and felt immense pride at their medal haul after the first two days of action.

“There is no quarter asked and none given in this level of the game, so to be first in the medal rankings yesterday is amazing,” said Burns. “Together with Friday’s time trial and yesterday’s road races we are third in terms of the nation’s ranking and we have never achieved anything like that before.”

Commenting on the event, Cycling SA President William Newman said: “The event has been absolutely wonderful. The riders have shown that they are capable, they don't look at themselves as being disabled at all, and they are here to compete at their best level and to bring honour to their country. There have been phenomenal performances across all the classes. Well done to everyone.”

The 2015 UCI Para-cycling Road World Cup – Pietermaritzburg (11-13 September 2015) had two competition venues with the time trial competition 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/

Sunday 13 September 2015 – Road Races

Men’s C4 (73.8km – 12 laps)
1.Jozef Metelka (SVK) 01:53:35
2.Kyle Bridgwood (AUS) 01:53:35
3.Sergey Pudov (RUS) 01:53:35

Men’s C5 (73.8km – 12 laps)
1.Michael Gallagher (AUS) 01:48:22
2.Alistair Donohoe (AUS) 01:49:55
3.Daniel Abraham Gebru (NED) 01:49:57

Men’s C1 (55.4km – 9 laps)
1.Michael Teuber (GER) 01:28:01
2.Matthew Bigos (USA) 01:28:08
3.Arnoud Nijhuis (NED) 01:34:07

Men’s C2 (55.4km – 9 laps)
1.Maurice Eckhard Tio (ESP) 01:27:11
2.Craig Ridgard (RSA) 01:28:01
3.Israel Hilario Rimas (PER) 01:28:01

Men’s C3 (55.4km – 9 laps)
1.David Nicholas (AUS) 01:27:34
2.Kris Bosmans (BEL) 01:27:54
3.Eduardo Santas Asensio (ESP) 01:27:54

Men’s B (92.3km – 15 laps)
1.Carlos Gonzalez Garcia/Noel Martin Infante (ESP) 02:05:49
2.Ignacio Avila Rodriguez/Joan Font Bertoli (ESP) 02:06:14
3.Stephen Bate/Adam Duggleby (GBR) 02:08:48

Women’s B (73.8km – 12 laps)
1.Lora Turnham/Corrine Hall (GBR) 02:03:27
2.Anita de Coster/Caren Commisaris (BEL) Independent 02:03:27
3.Josefa Benitez Guzman/Beatriu Gomez Franquet (ESP) 02:03:27

Women’s C4 (55.4km – 9 laps)
1.Shawn Morelli (USA) 01:34:07
2.Susan Powell (AUS) 01:39:08
3.Elizabeth Saul (GBR) 01:42:49

Women’s C5 (55.4km – 9 laps)
1.Anna Harkowska (POL) 01:33:18
2.Kerstin Brachtendorf (GER) 01:33:20
3.Nicole Clermont (CAN) 01:33:50

Women’s C2 (43.0km – 7 laps)
1.Allison Jones (USA) 01:20:03
2.Tereza Diepoldova (CZE – Independent) 01:24:03
3.Sally Hurst (GBR) 01:26:48

Women’s C3 (43.0km – 7 laps)
1.Jamie Whitmore Cardenas (USA) 01:20:03
2.Simone Kennedy (AUS) 01:21:55

Team Relay (12.6 km – 9 laps of 1.4km)
1.USA [Matthew Updike (MH3)/William Groulx (MH2)/Oscar Sanchez (MH5)]
2.BEL [Jean Francois Deberg (MH3)/Christophe Hindricq (MH2)/Jonas van de Steene (MH4)]
3.GER [Max Weber (MH3)/Mariusz Frankowski (MH2)/Vico Merklein (MH4)]