Another two World Championship titles were celebrated by Team South Africa on Sunday when Justine Asher and Pieter du Preez won their respective Road Race events at the 2015 UCI Para-cycling Road World Championships in Notwill, Switzerland.
Both Asher and Du Preez claimed the “double” after winning their Time Trial World Championship races on Friday.
Asher, competing in the Women’s H2 hand cycle class, rode an exceptionally strong race and lapped her competitors Carmen Koedood (NED) and Mikyoung Jeon (KOR) on her third lap. She says this “took the pressure off” for the remaining race distance. She completed her 35km race in 01:21:35.
“I ended the Swiss World Championships on a high with a double World Championship win!” said Asher. “I’m ecstatic to say the least. This has once again been a fantastic experience, for which I am extremely grateful; I am really proud to be bringing home two Rainbow Jerseys and two gold medals.”
Winning two rainbow jerseys hasn't yet sunk in for H1 hand cyclist, du Preez, who felt immense honour when he was on the podium on the two occasions, with the national flag hoisted and flying high, while singing the national anthem.
“It was always going to be tough on the 35km course that we were faced with. From the start a Swiss guy fired out of the blocks and made almost 150m on me quite early, but I reeled him in before the first big climb. At the top of the hill I had a 13-second gap on him, but I knew the elastic hadn’t snapped and that he was still there ready to challenge me. Going into the downhill I therefore took a few risks in some of the corners, which gave me the gains I was after. By the time I went out for my second lap, I knew I could settle into a good rhythm.
“From there I time trialled and made more time with each lap. To win a World Championship by more than 8 minutes 35 seconds against the best in the world is incredible. My coach and I worked hard for this and I’m really happy with my performance.”
The second placed rider was Kiwi Timothy Williams with Teppo Polvi (FIN) finishing third. Du Preez also thanked the management team, mechanic and National Coach for their efforts. “The team support has been fantastic, and a big thank you for all that you did for us.”
Defending H5 World Champion, Ernst van Dyk, suffered a major blow when his chain dropped on the first major climb on the first lap of his 62km race. The mechanical set back immediately placed him out of contention as he battled to regain contact with the group. He finished in seventh place. Italian Allessandro Zanardi claimed the victory in a sprint finish with Jetze Plat (NED), while Johan Reekers (NED) claimed third place. Although disappointed, Van Dyk is nevertheless very proud of his bronze medal win in the time trial.
C2 cyclist Craig Ridgard rode a race that was defined by the number of attacks that were launched throughout, and which was eventually won by Israel Rimas in a time of 01:29:04. The Peruvian attacked on the second lap of eight and stayed clear of the chase group until the finish. Ridgard finished in the same bunch as the bronze medalist, recording the same time. In this context, his 11th place result (achieved in only his second season of international competitive racing) is impressive.
Tricyclists Goldy Fuchs (T2) and George Rex (T1) finished in sixth and fifth places respectively over their respective 28km and 21km distances.
Cycling SA Para-cycling Commission Director, Dr Mike Burns, says that the team’s overall performance was brilliant and placed them fifth in the nation’s ranking (gold medal achievements) at the end of the event. “This is the best World Champs performance the national team has ever achieved. Congratulations to the whole team: the riders for sure, but also the team management and technical support. They have all done a sterling job.”
The next big event on the 2015 Para-cycling Road calendar is the final UCI Road World Cup of the 2015 series, which takes place in Pietermaritzburg South Africa, from 11-13 September. The world’s best para-cyclists will be competing against each other to gain maximum UCI points towards their nation’s 2016 Rio Paralympic Games qualification.
Summary of Results – 2015 UCI Para-cycling Road World Championships (SUI)
H5 – Men (62km)
1.Alessandro ZANARDI (ITA) 01:29:21
1.Jetze PLAT (NED) 01:29:21
3.Johan REEKERS (NED) 01:29:54
7.Ernst VAN DYK (RSA) 01:42:06
H2 – Women (35km)
1.Justine ASHER (RSA) 01:21:35
2.Carmen KOEDOOD (NED) -1lap
3.Mikyoung JEON (KOR) -1lap
C2 – Men (56km)
1.Israel HILARIO RIMAS (PER) 01:29:04
2.Maurice ECKHARD TIO (ESP) 01:30:29
3.Ivo KOBLASA (CZE) 01:30:46
11.Craig RIDGARD (RSA) 01:30:46
H1 – Men (35km)
1.Nicolas Pieter DU PREEZ (RSA) 01:25:57
2.Timothy WILLIAMS (NZL) 01:33:32
3.Teppo POLVI (FIN) 01:34:35
T1 – Men (21km)
1.Quentin AUBAGUE (FRA) 30:15
2.Sergey SEMOCHKIN (RUS) 31:29
3.Jiri HINDR (CZE) 32:01
5.Gerald George REX (RSA) 36:59
T2 – Men (28km)
1.Hans-Peter DURST (GER) 25:00.82
2.Giorgio FARRONI (ITA) 26:20.60
3.Ryan BOYLE (USA) 26:23.87
6.Goldy FUCHS (RSA) 27:26.97