Spirits were high for South Africa’s handcyclists as they churned out sterling performances at the second round of the 2012 Para-cycling Road World Cup Series in summery Segovia, Spain at the weekend.
H4 handcyclists Ernst van Dyk and Andries Scheepers and H2 competitor Stuart McCreadie began their racing in Valverde de Majano on Friday at the time trial race, contending with hot and windy conditions despite the late afternoon and early evening start times.
Thirty-nine year old Van Dyk and forty-five year old McCreadie proved that their Paralympic preparations are well on track with solid performances as Van Dyk earned a silver medal over the 21km route, coming second to current World Champion Oscar Sanchez (USA).
McCreadie earned 5th place in a tight race in the highly competitive H2 class that saw 24 competitors tackle the 13km route. His fifth place finish was a mere 0.2 seconds behind the current world cup leader David Franek from France. McCreadie was ecstatic with his improvement in this discipline.
Scheepers, racing in only his second UCI international event, finished his H4 race in 9th place ahead of Israel’s Nati Groberg.
Road racing took place on Saturday and Sunday, with the South African trio competing on the Saturday in the historic town of Villa de Cuellar. The 12km road race circuit presented a 7-degree gradient and included a 750-metre long cobblestone hill and proved to be a challenge for the team.
In the 60km 5-lap H4 race, Van Dyk crossed the finish line in an exciting photo finish in the challenge for fourth place against Jetze Plat from the Netherlands, with Plat claiming the 4th spot and Van Dyk 5th, both recording the same finish time of 01:46:26. It was the Belgian rider Wim Decleir that won the race in a photo finish with Oscar Sanchez in a winning time of 01:41:28. Scheepers finished in 10th place, missing out on 9th place by a mere 0.03 seconds.
McCreadie finished in 8th place in the 48km 4-lap H2 race in amongst the 24-strong field. McCreadie’s time of 01:21:54 was 1 minute 56 seconds off the pace of the winning time set by Frenchman David Franek.
The Spanish World Cup has served as excellent preparation for Van Dyk and McCreadie ahead of the London Paralympics, with another opportunity to fine-tune performances coming up in July for the Canadian World Cup in Baie-Comeau.
Summary of Results – 2012 Para-cycling Road World Cup #2 – Segovia (ESP)
Men H4 Handcycling Time Trial – 15.06.2012
1 Oscar Sanchez (USA) 31:22,60
2 Ernst van Dyk (RSA) 31:58,36 +35,76
3 Wim Decleir (BEL) 32:02,88 +40,28
9 Andries Scheepers (RSA) 33:47,17 +2:24,57
Men H2 Handcycling Time Trial – 15.06.2012
1 Heinz Frei (SUI) 19:01,12
2 Walter Ablinger (AUT) 19:23,87 +22,75
3 Lukas Weber (SUI) 19:49,90 +48,78
4 David Franek (FRA) 20:06,54 +1:05,42
5 Stuart McCreadie (RSA) 20:06,76 +1:05,64
Men H4 Handcycling Road Race – 16.06.2012
1 Wim Decleir (BEL) 01:41:28
2 Oscar Sanchez (USA) 01:41:28
3 Johan Reekers (NED) 01:42:23 +00:00:55
4 Jetze Plat (NED) 01:46:26 +00:04:58
5 Ernst van Dyk (RSA) 01:46:26 +00:04:58
10 Andries Scheepers (RSA) 01:50:03 +00:08:35
Men H2 Handcycling Road Race – 16.06.2012
1 David Franek (FRA) 01:19:58
2 Heinz Frei (SUI) 01:20:02 +00:00:04
3 Lukas Weber (SUI) 01:20:10 +00:00:12
8 Stuart McCreadie (RSA) 01:21:54 +00:01:56