Four of South Africa’s top para-cyclists will be competing in the 2018 UCI Para-cycling Road World Championships hosted by the city of Maniago, Italy, over the period 2 to 5 August.
T1 tricyclist, Toni Mould, who was a silver medalist in the 2017 World Championships, will be aiming to achieve another podium finish at Maniago. Her main challenge will be to get comfortable, as quickly as possible, with the technically challenging conditions of the racing circuits. These include a notorious cobblestone section passing through the town’s main piazza, which has caused many a rider to experience a slipped chain in past competitions.
H1 hand-cyclist, Pieter du Preez, with multiple UCI World Champion titles to his name in both the Time Trial and Road Race events will be back with a vengeance! Four months after the birth of his son, he won World Champs in Pietermaritzburg and has also won two IronMan 70. 3 races as well as the Berlin marathon (athletics discipline) amongst other local cycling races in the past year. The extremely hot temperatures currently experienced in Italy will be very challenging for Pieter, who has thermo-regulation challenges resulting from his quadriplegic condition.
T2 tricyclist, Goldy Fuchs, has previously claimed a silver medal at Maniago and is certain to exploit his experience of the local conditions to maximum advantage in the forthcoming World Championships. The ‘warm-up’ competition experience that he gained at the UCI World Cup, hosted recently by the city of Emmen, in the Netherlands, will also assist him in this regard.
The very talented rider Gary Coetzee, who has previously achieved a podium finish as a C4 competitor in a UCI World Cup, hosted by the city of Pietermaritzburg, faces stiff competition in the C5 class in which he will compete at Maniago. After major leg surgery in the past year, he has worked extremely hard to get into shape for this year’s World Championships. Also having competed recently in the UCI World Cup in Emmen, Gary achieved an excellent top-10 finish in the time trial there. The Emmen experience will stand him in good stead for what awaits him at Maniago.
The past 12 months represent a low point in what has been a fantastic decade of international performances for South African Para-cycling. The highlight in this regard was the swansong achievement by legendary H5 rider Ernst van Dyk, who won gold at the 2016 Rio Paralympic Games. Due to the lack of sponsorship into Para-cycling sports and Para-cycling athletes, our riders are faced with additional challenges not faced by able-bodied competitors. Para-cyclists need an extraordinary level of team management and other institutional support, compared to their able body colleagues, and without this, they either cannot get to compete or to perform anywhere near their full potential. It is hoped that urgently needed sponsorship will materialise soon and that 2019 will see the dawn of another golden era for the sport.
*Article updated 09.06.2018.