Rio 2016 Paralympic Games : Para-cyclists head to Pontal

Rio 2016 Paralympic Games : Para-cyclists head to Pontal

Jiri Jezek
Jiri Jezek

Now that track events have come to close at the Rio Paralympics, para-cyclists are on their way to Pontal to continue the Paralympic cycling excitement. Road racing events begin Wednesday, and with 197 athletes competing, events will be thrilling. Here is a preview of what is in store.

In Men’s racing, Yehor Dementyev will attempt to defend his two C5 Paralympic road titles. Already a gold medallist in track racing in the pursuit event, the Ukrainian athlete’s primary adversaries will be China’s Liu Xingyang, twice a silver medallist at the London 2012 Paralympic Games, and Australia’s Alistair Donohoe, UCI Road World Champion.

In C4 racing, the Czech Republic’s Jiri Jezek will have stiff competition when it comes to retaining his Paralympic title in the time trial. Australia’s Kyle Bridgwood is the UCI World Champion in the event, and may well out race Jezek.

David Nicholas will be one to watch in the C3 class. A bronze medallist at the London 2012 Paralympic Games in the road race, and time trial Paralympic Champion, the Australian is in fantastic shape. Nicholas already has a gold medal in his pocket from the track pursuit event at the Rio Games. Japan’s Masaki Fujita and Ireland’s Eoghan Clifford are also ones to watch in the category.

Gold medallist in the C2 pursuit track event, China’s Liang Guihua may well once again demonstrate his prowess. Victory will be on his mind in the time trial, where he is already runner-up UCI World and Paralympic Champion. In C1, Germany’s Michael Teuber will be the one to beat, as UCI World and Paralympic Champion in the time trial.

In tandem racing, Spain’s Ignacio Avila Rodriguez and Joan Font are favourites in the road race, while Poland’s Marcin Polak and Michal Ladosz will surely seek to hang on to their World Time Trial Champion title.

Current UCI World Champion in the road race and time trial, Italy’s Luca Mazzone could pull a double gold in the H2; doubles may also be in view for Mazzone’s teammate Vittorio Podesta in H3. Two-time reigning UCI World Champion in road events, Podesta also won two bronze medals at the London 2012 Paralympic Games.

In H4, Poland’s Rafal Wilk – two-time gold medallist at the most recent UCI Para-cycling Road World Championships, is a serious contender for the two road titles in his class. At the London Games he earned two gold in the H3 category.

Two-time Paralympic gold medallist in 2012 and winner of H5 road events at the 2015 UCI Para-cycling Road World Championships in Nottwil, Italy’s Alessandro Zanardi will be a favourite for the win.

In T1-2, Great Britain’s David Stone will attempt to defend his Paralympic title during the road race. Germany’s Hans-Peter Durst – T2 UCI World Champion in the road race and time trial, will nonetheless be the favoured competitor.


Women to watch

Christiane Reppe

In Women’s racing, Sarah Storey will certainly seek to continue her domination in the C5 class. Queen of the London Games where she took home four gold medals, 35 year-old Storey already has a medal to her name in Rio, and is the most decorated British athlete in Paralympic Games history, with twelve gold medals. Eternal silver medallist behind Storey, Poland’s Anna Harkowska will be after her first Paralympic win.

In C4, American Shawn Morelli, gold medallist in the pursuit, will be a favourite in the time trial where she holds the title of UCI World Champion. American Megan Fisher and Australia’s Susan Powell – gold and silver medallists at the London Games, respectively – will also have visions of podium placings.

Sini Zeng (C2) will defend her C1-3 Paralympic Champion title in the road race. Zeng will also likely seek victory in the time trial, which she won at the 2015 UCI Para-cycling Road World Championships. The 28 year-old Chinese athlete will have to beat two fierce competitors in American Allison Jones and the Czech Republic’s Tereza Diepoldova, gold and silver medallists at the London 2012 Paralympic Games.

In tandem racing, the big favourites will be Poland’s Iwona Podkoscielna and Aleksandra Wnuczek, reinging UCI World Champions in the road race and time trial. The duo must nonetheless defeat New Zealand’s Emma Foy and Laura Thompson, twice silver medallists at the 2015 UCI Para-cycling Road World Championships.

Germany’s Christiane Reppe (H4) will be on everyone’s radar in the road race for the H1-2-3-4 class. UCI World Champion of the event in the H3 class, Italy’s Francesca Porcellato will also be gunning for the podium in the H1-2-3 time trial, just like American Alicia Dana and Poland’s Renata Kaluza.

Germany’s Andrea Eskau UCI World and Paralympic Champion in the road race, will be in an advantageous position in the H5 class. In the H4-5 time trial, the Netherlands’ Laura De Vaan and Germany’s Dorothee Vieth should be able to turn up the pressure and excitement during racing.

Lastly, Australia’s Carol Cooke (T2) – UCI World and Paralympic Champion in the time trial, will be a favourite to win T1-2 road events. First though, Cooke will have to defeat American Jill Walsh.

Rio 2016 Paralympic Games: Team Great Britain top track rankings

Rio 2016 Paralympic Games: Team Great Britain top track rankings

Jon-Allan Butterworth
Jon-Allan Butterworth

Team Great Britain’s track cyclists set the tone at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games in August, bringing home 11 medals (six gold, four silver, one bronze) from the Rio Velodrome. Their para-cycling teammates kept the momentum going, winning an impressive 12 medals (eight gold, two silver, two bronze) in track cycling events that ended Sunday at the Paralympic Games.

Jody Cundy (C4) lead the charge with an imposing performance in the kilometre time trial (C4-C5), as well as in the team sprint (C1-C5), where he earned a second Paralympic title on the last day of track competitions in the company of teammates Jon-Allan Butterworth and Louis Rolfe.

Cundy began his paralympic career as a swimmer at the Atlanta 1996 Paralympic Games, and has ten Paralympic medals to his credit: five in cycling (four gold and one bronze) and five in swimming (three gold and two bronze).

Tandem gold medallists in the Women’s and Men’s individual pursuit events were also won by representatives of the Union Jack, namely the duos composed of Lora Turnham and Corrine Hall (pilot), and Steve Bate and Adam Duggleby(pilot). In both cases, the medals were Paralympic career firsts for these blind athletes.

Sophie Thornhill and Helen Scott (pilot) were the fastest around the oval over the kilometre time trial.

Megan Giglia (individual pursuit 3000 m C1-C2-C3), Kadeena Cox (500m time trial C4-C5) and Sarah Storey individual pursuit 3000 m C5) rounded out the golden medal harvest.

It’s worth mentioning that this week’s win was medal number 23 – and the 12th gold – in Storey’s long and victorious career; she is the most decorated British Paralympian in history. Like teammate Cundy, Storey also began her para-athletic career as a swimmer. It remains to be seen if her medal haul will increase further over the coming days, as she will take part in road racing and road time trial competitions – two events where she dominated at the London 2012 Paralympic Games.


Li Zhangyu leads the way for China

Li Zhangyu

In second place in the medals standings after track events, China followed Great Britain with seven medals, including three gold, two silver, and two bronze.

Li Zhangyu led the way for Team China, reaching the top spot on the podium twice: in the C1 3000m individual pursuit and the C1-2-3 kilometre time trial.

Guihua Liang (C2) was the other Chinese athlete to take home a gold medal, successfully defending his Paralympic title earned at the London 2012 Paralympic Games.

Li Zhangyu and Guihua Liang will also be participating in road racing events.


The Netherlands find a kink in British armour

Alyda Norbruis

The Netherlands were the last nation to scoop up more than one gold medal from Rio. The tandem team of Tristan Bangma and Teun Mulder managed to steal the gold away from Team Great Britain, who were relegated to the second and third places in the kilometre time trial.

The other gold medal was won by Alyda Norbruis in the 500m C1-2-3 time trial.

The remaining Paralympic titles were all earned during the individual pursuit event.

Reigning UCI World Champion in the 3000m C4 pursuit, American Shawn Morelli earned the first Paralympic podium of her career. Australia’s David Nicholas (C3) won his first Paralympic gold medal on the track, after having won the road time trial at the London 2012 Paralympic Games. Gold medallist at the last three editions of the UCI Para-cycling Track World Championships, Slovakia’s Jozef Metelka (C4) made good on his winning reputation, earning his first Paralympic title. Lastly, two-time gold medallist in road events at the London Games, Ukrainian para-cyclist Yehor Dementyev (C5) was the remaining gold medallist at the Rio Velodrome.


Paralympic road racing events in Rio begin as of Wednesday September 14th , bringing excitement to the streets!

Rio 2016 Paralympic Games: Team GB dominant on the track

Rio 2016 Paralympic Games: Team GB dominant on the track

The Mixed C1-5 GB Team
The Mixed C1-5 GB Team

Para-cyclists Tristan Bangma (The Netherlands), and Lora Turnham (Great Britain) won the last individual events, Sunday, at the 2016 Rio Paralympic Games. Team Great Britain used the fourth and last day of track cycling to grab their eighth title at the velodrome – a gold medal in the Mixed C1-5 Team Sprint.

The Netherlands’ Tristan Bangma and pilot Teun Mulder earned the gold medal in the Men’s tandem time-trial, in addition to setting a new Paralympic record of 59.822 seconds. The 18-year-old raced today in his first Paralympic Games but has already impressed as the runner-up to the UCI World Champion in the event.

“It’s just incredible, unbelievable really. I felt I could get a good time coming into the Games. I knew my training had gone well and that I was in good shape. This is the gold medal that tells a lot more than being a world champion. It only comes round every four years. I am only 18 so I hope to be in Tokyo in 2020, we will see. Now I just want to celebrate, but I am not believing I am Paralympic champion,” said Bangma.

Five-time UCI World Champion in the time-trial, Great Britain’s Neil Fachie and pilot Pete Mitchell (+0.419 seconds) had to settle for the silver medal. Fachie had won the event at the London 2012 Paralympic Games.

Team Germany’s Kai-Christian Kruse and Stefan Nimke (+1.965 seconds) took home the bronze medal.

Britain’s Lora Turnham and pilot Corrine Hall dominated the Women’s Individual Tandem Pursuit. In the final, the British duo faced New Zealand adversaries Emma Foy and Laura Thompson (+3.519 seconds) – the event’s reigning UCI World Champions – and beat them to the line in a time of 3 minutes 28.050 seconds.

“I just can’t stop laughing and crying. We really didn’t expect it to happen in the pursuit as the Kiwis have been dominant; since London they have been unbeatable. We knew after winning bronze at the Worlds we were capable of winning a medal, but I never quite allowed myself to believe it would be gold,” said Turnham.

During qualifications, Turnham and Hall registered a new Paralympic time, covering the 3000 meters in 3 minutes 27.460 seconds. Turnham’s win today is her first, as well as being her first Paralympic Games medal; she previously participated in the London 2012 Paralympic Games.

In the bronze medal final, Britain’s Sophie Thornhill and pilot Helen Scott easily won against New Zealand’s Amanda Cameron and Hannah Kampen.

For Thornhill and Scott, this is the second medal earned at the Rio Olympic Velodrome, last Friday, the duo won gold in the time-trial.

The last track event, the Mixed C1-5 Team Sprint, was completely dominated by team Great Britain’s Louis Rolfe (C2), Jon-Allan Butterworth (C5), and Jody Cundy (C4).

After having lowered the event’s world record to 49.004 seconds during qualifications, the Briton trio then repeated the exploit for the gold medal, lowering their time once again, to 48.635 seconds.

Current Paralympic Champions in the event, the Chinese this time had to take home silver; Xie Hao (C2), Wei Guoping (C4), and Liu Xinyang (C5) came in at +1.279 seconds from the British winners.

The bronze medal final was won by Spain’s Amador Granados Alkorta (C3), Eduardo Santas Asensio (C3), and Alfonso Cabello Llamas (C5) in 50.664 seconds. They beat out Americans Jennifer Schuble (C5), Joseph Berenyi (C3), and Christopher Murphy (C5) by a mere 1.044 seconds.

Team GB leaves the track with a hefty twelve medals – including eight gold. Team China sits behind them with seven medals (three gold), while The Netherlands is in third place (eight medals, two gold).

Para-cyclists now head to Pontal, where the Paralympic Games road racing events will take place as of Wednesday.


Rio 2016 Paralympic Games: Team China and Team GB impress at the Velodrome

Rio 2016 Paralympic Games: Team China and Team GB impress at the Velodrome

China Liang Guihua in the Men
China Liang Guihua in the Men’s C2 3000m pursuit

Team China’s para-cyclists impressed this Friday, winning two of three individual pursuit events held at the Rio Olympic Velodrome. Equally lauded were Team Great Britain’s wins in the first time-trial events at the Paralympic Games.

In the Men’s C1 pursuit, China’s Zhangyu Li, UCI World Champion and gold medallist in the time-trial at the London 2012 Paralympic Games, won Paralympic gold honours after having beaten Canadian Ross Wilson in the final.

“I am so happy to have won the gold medal. I am so excited at achieving my goal here in Rio. Now I want to come back for future Games and win more gold medals,” commented the 28-year-old Chinese athlete, who during the qualifications also lowered his own world record to 3 minutes 50.373 seconds.

Rounding out the podium, The Netherlands’ Arnoud Nijhuis took home the bronze medal.

In C2 class racing, Guihua Liang successfully defended his Paralympic title in the Pursuit event. In the final match-up, the 32-year-old bested Canada’s Tristen Chernove (current UCI World Champion) by 2.859 seconds, ending up with a final time of 3 minutes 44.553 seconds. Liang dominated the qualifications, recording a time of 3 minutes 42.916 seconds – a Paralympic record.

In the bronze medal final, Briton Louis Rolfe (3 minutes 47.951 seconds) out biked Colombia’s Alvaro Galvis Becerra (+ 1.868 seconds).

In C3 racing, Australian David Nicholas snagged his first Paralympic title in the pursuit. In the final round, the 24-year-old out-raced the reigning champion of the event – American Joseph Berenyi, by 1.014 seconds – with a time of 3 minutes 33.028 seconds.

Earlier in the day during the qualifications, Nicholas lowered the Paralympic time in the C3 pursuit with a time of 3 minutes 32.336 seconds.

In the bronze medal final, Ireland’s Eoghan Clifford (3 minutes 40.201 seconds) bettered Canada’s Michael Sametz (+1.389 seconds).

Cundy and Thornhill: victorious time-trial
The first two time-trial events at the velodrome were won by athletes from Team Great Britain.

In Men’s racing, Jody Cundy finally earned a Paralympic title in the C4-5 time-trial. After a distressing loss at the London 2012 Paralympic Games, the four-time UCI World Champion flew over the Kilo in 1 minute 02.473 seconds: a new Paralympic record in the class.

“I was trying not to be nervous and focus on my start so much. I probably didn’t get the best start, but that doesn’t matter now. All that matters is being Paralympic champion. I have never wanted the title more than this one after London even though I can never make up for what happened there,” 37-year-old Cundy stated.

Slovakia’s Josef Metelka – silver medallist in the time-trial at the last three UCI Para-cycling Track World Championships – once again was decorated with silver, at +1.721 seconds from Cundy.

Spain’s Alfonso Cabello Llamas, London 2012 Paralympic Champion, completed the podium, and also established a new Paralympic Record of 1 minute 04.494 seconds in the C5 Class.

In Women’s racing, Great Britain’s Sophie Thornhill and pilot Helen Scott took the Tandem title, in addition to setting a Paralympic record, traversing the 1000 metres in 1 minute 06.283 seconds.

The Netherlands’ Larissa Klaassen and Haliegh Dolman earned second place and silver, at +0.776 seconds of the winners.

Thornhill and teammate Scott anxiously awaited Klassen and Dolman’s results as they rounded the track, given that the latter are World Paralympic Time Trial Champions.

“The moment we saw they were not going to beat the time we just screamed. There are no words to describe how happy, relieved and proud we are to win the gold medal. It’s just incredible,” commented the youthful, 20-year-old Briton, who finished second at the time-trial at the most recent UCI World Championships.

Australia’s Jessica Gallagher and Madison Janssen (+ 1.888 seconds) won the bronze medal.


Rio 2016 Paralympic Games: Tim de Vries, man of all sports

Rio 2016 Paralympic Games: Tim de Vries, man of all sports

Tim De Vries (NED) - 2016 UCI Para-cycling Road World Cup - Ostend (BEL)
Tim De Vries (NED) – 2016 UCI Para-cycling Road World Cup – Ostend (BEL)

Handcycling pro Tim de Vries is seen by many of his rivals as the man to beat in the H5 class in Rio. The Dutchman has lost count of the medals he’s brought back from international competitions, and he is determined to come away from his first Paralympic experience with a medal around his neck.

“I am not going to say I go for gold,” said de Vries. “Obviously, I want to reach that and deliver my best performance!”

The competition will play out between him, South African Ernst van Dyk and Italian Alex Zanardi, double gold medallist —in both road race and time tria — in the London 2012 Paralympic Games and the 2015 UCI Para-cycling Road World Championships. “In the races I have great rivalry with them. But they are both great athletes and they push the envelope in both psychological and physical ways. That makes handcycling really competitive.”

Will the four-time time trial National Champion’s career as an athlete continue past Rio? He wants to wait until after the event is over to make a decision. “I would like to pursue high-level handcycling, but I’m also a big family man and would really love to spend more time with my wife and three children. But I will keep going with handcycling, no matter what!”

De Vries’s life turned upside down in May 1997. At the age of 18, the former gymnast had his left leg amputated after a trampoline accident. With the help of prosthetics, he kept training indoors and took up rowing in 2005, at which he had a few successful years.

From Trampoline to Rowing to Cycling

In September 2010, he decided to challenge himself in another sport: handcycling. In April 2011, he competed in his first UCI Para-cycling Road World Cup, in Sydney, and came in fifth in the road race and time trial events. That performance qualified him for the 2011 UCI Para-cycling Road World Championships, in Denmark.

Tim de Vries’s first World Champs medal came in 2013: a time trial bronze. That was only the beginning of what has been a glorious, long-lived career.

Rio 2016 Paralympic Games: Historic pursuit gold for Storey

Rio 2016 Paralympic Games: Historic pursuit gold for Storey

Dame Sarah Storey in Day 1 of the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games
Dame Sarah Storey in Day 1 of the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games

Great Britain’s para-cycling delegation brought their A game to the velodrome on this first day of the Paralympic Games in Rio. Not only did the country rake in three gold medals in the individual pursuit event, but it also saw one of its most illustrious representatives, Sarah Storey, write her name into the history books.

With her victory in the C5 pursuit on Thursday, Storey claimed the twelfth Paralympic title of her career. She also became Britain’s most successful female Paralympian of all time.

The 38-year-old, who had won sixteen Paralympic medals as a swimmer before she took on para-cycling, once more dominated the competition in Rio.

“It is something everyone else has had over my head. I had not thought about it until two days ago when everybody kept asking me about it,” said Storey, who was congratulated by her daughter after the race. “She said ‘Well done, Mummy’. It is great having her here with Barney (husband) and my mum and dad.”

After shattering her own world record in qualifying with a time of three minutes 31.394 seconds, Storey wiped out Crystal Lane in the final race, after she overtook her fellow Brit after the 1000-metre mark.

Reigning pursuit champion. Storey has snatched every Paralympic track title since the Beijing 2008 Games.

In the race for the bronze, U.S. para-cyclist Samantha Bosco (3 min 54.697s) beat Polish Anna Harkowska by 0.004 seconds, a disappointing result for Harkowska, who won the silver in the event at the 2012 London Games.

Morelli and Giglia seal first Paralympic wins
First-time Paralympian Shawn Morelli (3 min 59.407s), from the United States of America, came away with the C4 gold after beating Australian Susan Powell in the final race. World Champion Morelli shot ahead of Powell by 5.387 seconds.

In addition to stealing the Paralympic gold away from Powell, the 40-year-old American improved the record set by the Australian at the London Games after she clocked 3 min 57.741s in qualifying.

The bronze went to American Megan Fisher (4 min 04.081s), who defeated New Zealand’s Katherine Horan (+0.356s) in the race for third place.

Megan Giglia (C3), also a first-time Paralympian, zoomed to victory in the C1–3 class and came away with the pursuit gold after catching up with American Jamie Whitmore (C3) just after the halfway mark.

“It hasn’t sunk in yet,” said Giglia. “It will when I see everyone. I’ve got my teammates, my family members backing me up. To be honest I didn’t think I’d even make it to Rio, so this is amazing.”

Reigning World Champion, the 31-year-old Brit broke her own world record, set earlier this year, in qualifying in 4 min 03.544s.

In the race for third place, Dutch Alyda Norbruis (C2) beat China’s Sini Zeng by 7.076 seconds. After smashing her category’s Paralympic record in qualifying, Norbruis once again lowered her time in the final race, clocking 4 min 10.654s.

Steve Bate ousts Kieran Modra
On the men’s side, Steve Bate and pilot Adam Duggleby took home the Paralympic gold in the 4000-metre tandem pursuit. The British team finished the final race in 4 min 08.631s, 1.663 seconds before Dutch duo Vincent ter Schure and Timo Fransen.

“It feels fantastic.” said Bate. “I am still trying to let it all sink in, but I just feel super stoked to have done it.”

Bate and Duggleby were the fastest qualifiers, with a new world record of 4 min 08.146s. Australian Kieran Modra, who had set the world record spectacularly at the London Games, had to resign himself to sixth place this time around, alongside pilot David Edwards.

“We knew we were in form and good shape coming into the Games,” added Bate. “It is just great to come here and go up against Kieran Modra in the qualifying round. He has dominated this for years, so to go up against him and beat him and break the record was just fantastic.”

The other podium position went to yet another Dutch team. In the race for third place, Stephen de Vries and Patrick Bos (4 min 15.769s) beat Spanish Ignacio Avila Rodriguez and Joan Font Bertoli by 0.905 seconds.

The individual pursuit event continues this Friday, at the Rio Olympic Velodrome.