This Sunday was the last day of the UCI Para-cycling Road World Cup season in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa. The year came to and end on a remarkably high note for several para-cyclists, including Polish Anna Harkowaska and American Shawn Morelli, who put on outstanding performances this season.
It wasn’t however all child’s play for Anna Harkowaska (C5)! She won her road race by a narrow 2 seconds over German Kerstin Brachtendorf, in a time of 1 hour 33 minutes 18 seconds. This victory planted her firmly at the head of the ranking, after a perfect World Cup season with nothing but wins. Canadian Nicole Clermont, time trial silver, brought home her second medal of the weekend, a bronze this time, this Sunday.
To conclude a highly remarkable season, US athlete Shawn Morelli easily dominated the C4 time trial and road race this weekend. On Sunday, she beat second place, Australian Susan Powell, by over five minutes, and third place, British Elizabeth Saul, by over eight minutes, in a time of 1 hour 34 minutes 07 seconds. After seven victories in eight World Cup events, Morelli finished the season at the top of the ranking, 110 points ahead of number two, Canadian Marie-Claude Molnar.
American Allison Jones, Friday’s time trial champion, and Jamie Whitmore Cardenas both dominated the road races – and overall rankings – in their classes (C2 and C3, respectively).
Teuber triumphs not once, but twice
German Michael Teuber finished the season in style, treating himself to two his second gold of the weekend, and to the number one position in the overall C1 ranking. He covered the 55.4k in 1 hour 28 minutes 01 seconds, beating American Matthew Bigos (by 7 seconds) and Dutch Arnoud Nijhuis (by 6 minutes 06 seconds), two-time bronze medallist in South Africa.
Even with a time trial silver and a road race gold, Maurice Eckhard Tio didn’t make it to the top of the World Cup C2 ranking. The battle for the position was close, between Tio and Peruvian Israel Hilaro Rimas, Sunday’s road race bronze medallist, but Rimas came out on top eventually. South African Craig Ridgard, who wasn’t in the fight for ranking lead, gifted his fans with a silver medal.
Slovakian Jozef Metelka, second place in the C4 time trial, exacted revenge on Australian Kyle Bridgwood with a win in the road race in 1 hour 53 minutes 35 seconds. The race ended in a seven-rider sprint, and Bridgwood had to content himself with the second step of the podium this time. Russian Sergey Pudov also displayed great strength of character – after finishing just off the podium on Friday, he bounced back up and snatched the bronze on Sunday. The podium position however wasn’t enough to place him ahead of Metelka in the overall World Cup ranking, and the Slovakian athlete was crowned season champion for 2015.
Australian Michael Gallagher was also held off the time trial podium, in the C5 Class, but came around on Sunday, dominated the road race and crossed the finish line in 1 hour 48 minutes 22 seconds – 1 minute 33 seconds ahead of fellow Australian Alistair Donohoe, Friday’s champion. Undeterred by this second place, Donohoe made it safely to the top of the overall ranking in the category. Dutch Daniel Abraham Gebru put his hands on his second bronze of the weekend.
The last event of the day, handbike relay, marked the end of the World Cup season. The U.S., overall ranking leaders, earned themselves another victory, leaving behind the Belgians and the Germans.
Australia’s David Nicholas (C3), British women’s tandem duo Lora Turnham and pilot Corrine Hall, and Spanish men’s tandem team Carlos Gonzalez Garcia and pilot Noel Martin Infante were the other winners of the day.