World Para-cyclists beat all odds

Friday’s afternoon session of the 2015 UCI Para-cycling Road World Cup brought the Time Trial competition to and end under dreary skies at Midmar Dam in KwaZulu-Natal, with USA and Germany hauling in the most gold medals with five each and South Africa claiming two golds.

All of the hand cycling categories and the T1 tricycle class faced the much colder weather to deliver even more exhilarating action as each rider gave it their all in a race against the clock in a bid to claim a podium position.

For the South African supporters, all eyes turned to the H5 race to see multiple World Champion medallist and six-time Paralympian Ernst van Dyk in action. Unfortunately, a technical problem almost cost Van Dyk a podium place, but a momentous effort was enough to secure the bronze medal.

“It’s been the story of my season with the chain dropping,” said Van Dyk, who was placed out of contention at the World Champs last month when he suffered the same technical problem. “There have been some issues with my new fork that has been developed. We’ve finally narrowed down the problem but for it to be replaced is going to take a bit of time. As I went over the rumble strips at the foot of the uphill, I shifted to a lighter gear to climb the hill, which released the tension on the chain and it dropped. In the process, my Di2 shifter unplugged so I was left with one gear, which was my hardest gear and my cadence dropped and it was very hard from there.”

Van Dyk was happy with third place under the circumstances. “I was pretty close to Tim in the end, and before my chain dropped I was way ahead of him, which was a good sign. Tomorrow is another day, so we’ll try again.”

Van Dyk’s bronze medal was one out of five medals for the South African team – Justine Asher (H2) and Pieter du Preez (H1) won gold medals while Goldy Fuchs (T2) and George Rex (T1) also claimed bronze medals.

Women’s H4 bronze medallist, Svetlana Moshkovich from the eight-member Russian contingent, had to fight hard for a medal position after also experiencing a technical on the route.

“Luckily I won the bronze,” she laughed. “I came here to fight for gold but I had a technical problem on the second lap on the downhill. My chain got stuck in the fork so I couldn't spin and had to stop and try to fix my bike. I guess I lost more than two minutes on that and tried to fight back. At the end of the day I am really happy with the bronze.”

South Africa’s Simon Makgobela (H5) finished in sixth place. “Ah, wow. It was a very nice race. It was so hard with the wind though but I just tried my best. The guys were all just moving so fast – I’ve learned so much from them, which is so cool. It feels so good to have the World Cup in my country.”

American Oscar Sanchez almost didn’t make it to the start of the race, but despite his delays to get to the track, he put in a cracker performance to win a silver medal. “After visa issues and delays at the airports, I’m so happy just to be here. I literally built my bike in the van on the way here, got out, wheel change, air in the tyres and on the start line. I had no time to warm up; that was my start. My race started about 36 hours ago,” he laughed.

Sanchez enjoyed the course. “It had speed, some technical sections and that wind chill definitely put a twist it. Not warming up for anything is never good, not warming up for a time trial is even worse, especially with this weather. I just powered through it in a bit of a daze. It was a good day. I think for me this was harder earned than the second place at Worlds, honestly,” he concluded.

Swiss wheelchair-athlete-turned-Para-cyclist, Heinz Frei (57) arrived on Wednesday and had a great day on Friday to secure a gold medal in the H3 race. “The weather was so great on Thursday, and then so cold on race day,” said Freiz. “But it’s like this in Switzerland - the cold I mean. My race was good and I’m happy to have won my division and I feel it was a good performance. It’s also super for my World Cup lead.

“I’m loving South Africa, it’s such a short time but I have wonderful memories. It’s lovely having these experiences all over the world,” he concluded.

Men’s H1 silver medallist, Patrik Jahoda (CZE) was pleased with his race. “For me it was the best performance this year. I just love South Africa and it’s only my first time here. And the people are just amazing. The weather was better than some of the heat in Europe, we tend to overheat sometimes.”

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:

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

For the full list of results, visit

Session 3

Men’s H5 (16km – 2 laps)
1.Tim de Vries (NED) 26:25.51
2.Oscar Sanchez (USA) 26:47.91
3.Ernst van Dyk (RSA) 26:55.89

Men’s H4 (16km – 2 laps)
1.Rafal Wilk (POL) 25:33.47
2.Jonas van de Steene (BEL) 26:05.29
3.Joel Jeannot (FRA) 26:19.84

Men’s H3 (16km – 2 laps)
1.Heinz Frei (SUI) 26:59.04
2.Walter Ablinger (AUT) 27:37.46
3.Jean Francois Deberg (BEL) 27:55.67

Men’s H2 (16km – 2 laps)
1.William Groulx (USA) 32:36.90
2.Tobias Fankhauser (SUI) 35:05.30
3.Yaakov Kobi Lion (ISR) 35:10.89

Women’s H5 (16km – 2 laps)
1.Dorothee Vieth (GER) 28:56.14
2.Laura de Vaan (NED) 29:54.42

Women’s H4 (16km – 2 laps)
1.Christiane Reppe (GER) 32:06.90
2.Sandra Graf (SUI) 34:22.56
3.Svetlana Moshkovich (RUS) 36:36.81

Women’s H3 (16km – 2 laps)
1.Alicia Dana (USA) 33:15.44
2.Karen Darke (GBR) 35:17.57
3.Natalia Yanuto (RUS) 38:25.98

Session 4

Men’s T1 (8km – 1 lap)
1.Sergey Semochkin (RUS) 17:48.47
2.Rickard Nilsson (SWE) 18:56.07
3.Gerald George Rex (RSA) 19:11.62

Women’s T1 (8km – 1 lap)
1.Shelley Gautier (CAN) 20:28.53
2.Yulia Sibagatova (RUS) 24:20.88
3.Bianca Woolford (AUS) 26:27.57

Women’s H2 (8km – 1 lap)
1.Justine Asher (RSA) 24:28.60
2.Carmen Koedood (NED) 28:49.13

Men’s H1 (8km – 1 lap)
1.Pieter du Preez (RSA) 20:57.47
2.Patrik Jahoda (CZE) 25:06.19
3.Teppo Polvi (FIN) 25:39.87