As one by one the UCI WorldTour riders set off from Avranches for the Tour de France individual time trial on Wednesday, they will be chasing the time set by six-time Paralympic Champion Jiri Jezek. The Czech athlete has been selected to set the base time over the 33km course to Mont-Saint-Michel.
âI will race as a cyclist, as a para-cyclist and in the name of all para-cyclists,â says Jezek. âI will do my best to represent them well. My goal is just to enjoy it and of course I will do my best to show the high level of para-cycling. You get this kind of opportunity once in your life, so I want to shine. On the other hand, I am still missing one leg and of course that will play a role.â
Jezek is a very popular ambassador of para-cycling and has been part of the UCI Athletes Commission since its launch in 2011. Fully professional since 2004, Jezek, 38, trains some 32,000km a year.
âI think (on Wednesday) that power output will be crucial," analyses the athlete. "I would prefer it more rolling, more technical, but Iâm super happy just to be there and Iâm sure I will love it. The Tour de France is the most prestigious cycling event on the planet. I am very thankful to represent the para-cycling society there and I hope to do it in style.â
Currently in the lead of the UCI Para-cycling Road World Cup, Jiri Jezek is getting back into shape after his mid-season break. His preparation for Wednesdayâs time trial has been almost the same as that for the 2012 London Paralympics, where he won the time trial gold medal.
Just two days before his Tour de France appearance, he says that the emotions are also similar to those before London 2012: âItâs a special mixture of being nervous and looking forward to racing. I am sure that I will shake a bit on the start ramp on Wednesday.â
Photo (Sona Jezkova): Jiri Jezek will set the base time in Wednesdayâs Tour de France time trial