Strong performances from Team SA at Para World Cup opener

Seventeen nations kicked off the opening round of the 2016 UCI Para-cycling Road World Cup at Alexandra Park in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, on Saturday 7 May, with a race against the clock when they tackled the Time Trial in cold and wet conditions.

The morning started with the T1 trikes and H2 and H1 hand cycles, followed by the C2 and C1 bicycles and T2 trikes classes before the break, where South Africans Toni Mould (T1), Justine Asher (H2), Pieter du Preez (H1), Craig Ridgard (C2) and Goldy Fuchs (T2) claimed maximum UCI points in their respective races. American Jay Lapointe won the Men’s T1 race while Matthew Bigos won the C1 race. South Africans Gerhard Viljoen (T2) got a second-place finish while Barend van der Walt (C2) rounded out the podium.

In the afternoon session, Ernst van Dyk (H5) powered his way through the 18.45-kilometre track to claim a gold medal against Portugal’s Luis Miguel Costa by a margin of two-and-a-half minutes, and Andries Scheepers claimed a bronze medal. Stuart McCreadie claimed a gold medal in his H4 race beating World Champion Walter Ablinger (AUT) by 50 seconds, while Rafal Wilk (POL), Yaakov Kobi Lion (ISR), Renata Kaluza (POL) won the Men’s H4, H2 and Women’s H3 races respectively. South African Gary Coetzee impressive performance saw him finish in second place in the Men’s C4 race in his first ever season.

Slovakian Jozef Metelka claimed the gold medal in the Men’s C4 Time Trial while Frenchman Dorian Foulon won the C5 race. Przemyslaw Wegner and Artur Korc of Poland put in a solid effort to claim the gold medal in the Men’s B tandem race in a time of 30 minutes 43.231 seconds, beating the Irish pairings of Peter Ryan and Sean Hahessy into second place and Damien Vereker and Marcin Mizgajski into third.

Double World Champion, Pieter du Preez, blitzed the H1 hand cycling race along the six-kilometre route when he completed his 12.3km in 33 minutes 15.891 seconds, which was six minutes and 40 seconds clear of second placed Ernst Bachmaier of Austria. “I’m glad it went well today, I surprised myself in terms of my form; I’m fit but I haven’t been focussing on the bike, I’ve been racing a lot in the racing chair. I’m very happy to have killed the competition, and one of the guy’s medalled at World Champs last year so my competition was strong today.

“It terms of the temperature, it was great and didn’t affect my racing. But with the rain, the water on the road affects our vision and the splashing makes it difficult to see, as we are so close to the ground. When I realised how far ahead I was, I toned it down a bit on the downhill so as to not take too many risks. There were some narrow sections on the course when it came to passing other bikes. The rain wasn't the best but there wasn't any wind so it was great.”

The World Cup opener in South Africa was awarded double UCI points by the UCI (Union Cycliste Internationale) and even though many of the Nations had a good idea of who their riders would be for the Paralympic Games in Rio, this event served as a vital yardstick in terms of riders’ preparations during the competition season in the Paralympic year.

Neil Delahye, Team Manager for Ireland, said: “It’s a very important event for us, we have a number of riders who are in contention for a place for the Rio team. This is a heavy weighting in terms of the points for our Paralympic selection criteria so everyone’s here in good form hoping to net results that’s really going to make sure they can get the final selection on the Rio team.”

Team USA’s Matthew Bigos (C1) relished the cooler, wet weather as he delivered his first World Cup Time Trial victory. “I was excited when I woke up this morning and saw that it was raining. I find that the rain puts a lot of people off. After racing here last year, I was happy that the Time Trial route had moved here to Pietermaritzburg rather than Midmar, not because I didn’t enjoy last year’s route, but because I prefer a more technical course, so this was really good for me.”

The 34-year-old has been in South Africa for the past two weeks, where he put in a 10-day training block in Cape Town before arriving in Pietermaritzburg. Speaking about his goals for the road race tomorrow, Bigos said: “Tomorrow will be a little different in the road race. Usually the C1-3 classes race together, but with a smaller field this year, the C1-5 will be racing together. I came second here last year so I am really hoping to go for the win this year, but I really want to try and make it with the C4-C5 classes for my majority of the race and see how long I can stay with them, that’s my big goal tomorrow.”

Ghana’s Yaw Korsah (H2), who started hand cycling in 2008, was proud to be participating in his first World Cup. “Initially I was a wheelchair basketball player but I felt I lacked the height that my teammates had, so I thought it would be better to cycle.”

Local resident, Nic Whiteing, tackled his first World Cup Time Trial and feels nervous excitement for his first road race tomorrow. “I had high expectations today, I did the best that I could. My first lap was a bit slow as I was warming up a bit and I really got going on my second lap. It’s my first time at a World Cup and I felt good and gave it my all. This is only the beginning, I am 26-years-old, so onwards and upwards.”

Spectators are welcome to come and support the local and international riders that will be participating in Sunday’s Road Races, and the pit area is open for people to meet their cycling heroes. For those that cannot attend, the full days’ racing will be live streamed on www.streamit360.tv.

The opening round of the 2016 UCI Para-cycling Road World Cup takes place at Alexandra Park in Pietermaritzburg on Saturday 7 and Sunday 8 May. More information can be found here: http://www.cyclingsa.com/2016-uci-para-road-world-cup/.

Summary of Results – 2016 UCI Para-cycling Road World Cup

Saturday 7 May (afternoon session)

Men’s H5 Time Trial (18.45km)
1.Ernst van Dyk (RSA) 00:29:16.877
2.Luis Miguel Costa (POR) 00:31:50.035
3.Andries Scheepers (RSA) 00:33:03.592

Men’s H4 Time Trial (18.45km)
1.Rafal Wilk (POL) 00:28:21.923
2.Arkadiusz Skrzypinski (POL) 00:30:45.837
3.Alexander Gritsch (AUT) 00:32:12.117

Men’s H3 Time Trial (18.45km)
1.Stuart McCreadie (RSA) 00:30:02.870
2.Walter Ablinger (AUT) 00:30:52.585
3.Diego Ballesteros Cucurull (ESP) 00:33:22.186

Men’s H2 Time Trial (18.45km)
1.Yaakov Kobi Lion (ISR) 00:37:50.080
2.Wolfgang Schattauer (AUT) 00:44:15.863
3.Yaw Korsah (GHA) 00:57:00.378

Women’s H3 Time Trial (18.45km)
1.Renata Kaluza (POL) 00:37:44.500
2.Palesa Manaleng (RSA) 00:59:57.625

Men’s B Time Trial (24.6km)
1.Przemyslaw Wegner & Artur Korc (POL) 00:30:43.231
2.Peter Ryan & Sean Hahessy (IRL) 00:31:27.340
3.Damien Vereker & Marcin Mizgajski (IRL) 00:32:05.081

Men’s C5 Time Trial (24.6km)
1.Dorian Foulon (FRA) 00:33:57.564
2.Patrick Hagenaars (AUT) 00:34:58.321
3.Gavin Cowden (RSA) 00:39:34.051

Men’s C4 Time Trial (24.6km)
1.Jozef Metelka (SVK) 00:32:42.999
2.Gary Coetzee (RSA) 00:36:18.619
3.Jerry Towey (IRL) 00:37:25.043

Men’s C3 Time Trial (24.6km)
1.Juan Odendaal (RSA) 00:40:21.660

Women’s B Time Trial (24.6km)
1.Adamantia Chalkiadaki & Argyro Milaki (GRE) 00:36:09.333

Women’s C5 Time Trial (24.6km)
1.Estelle van der Merwe (RSA) 00:46:35.828

Women’s C4 Time Trial (24.6km)
1.Vicky Scheepers (RSA)

Saturday 7 May (morning session)

Men’s T1 Time Trial (12.3km)
1.Jay Lapointe (USA) 00:41:10.425

Women’s T1 Time Trial (12.3km)
1.Toni Mould (RSA) 00:43:16.158

Women’s H2 Time Trial (12.3km)
1.Justine Asher (RSA) 00:32:43.443
2.Ciara Staunton (IRL) 00:48:31.823

Men’s H1 Time Trial (12.3km)
1.Nicolas Pieter du Preez (RSA) 00:33:15.891
2.Ernst Bachmaier (AUT) 00:39:56.271
3.Rafal Mikolajczyk (POL) 00:41:30.926

Men’s C2 Time Trial (18.45km)
1.Craig Ridgard (RSA) 00:29:35.454
2.Roger Bolliger (SUI) 00:29:36.171
3.Barend van der Walt (RSA) 00:30:35.206

Men’s C1 Time Trial (18.45km)
1.Matthew Bigos (USA) 00:31:15.643
2.Andreas Zirkl (AUT) 00:32:55.928
3.Georg Schwab (AUT) 00:33:12.417

Men’s T2 Time Trial (18.45km)
1.Goldy Fuchs (RSA) 00:34:01.978
2.Gerhard Viljoen (RSA) 00:35:29.127
3.Steven Peace (USA) 00:38:54.521

Friday 6 May

Team Relay (12.6km – 9 laps of 1.4 km)
1.AUSTRIA 00:20:32 – Alexander Gritsch; Walter Ablinger, Wolfgang Schattauer
2.IRELAND 00:25:53 – Seamus Wall; Declan Slevin; Ciara Staunton