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
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.