Curtain comes down on 2017 UCI Para-cycling Road World Championships
Athletes from the world over took leave of the South African city of Pietermaritzburg after four days of high-level competition full of excitement and emotion.
The last morning of competition on Sunday produced five UCI World Champions: in the men’s C1,2 and 3 classes and the women’s C4 and 5 classes. All covered 10 laps of the 6.07km circuit.
Both fields settled into bunch races, with a few more riders being dropped each lap. Finally, a group of 12 men embarked on the last lap together.
All three men’s winners came from the same bunch sprint to the finish line: Sweden’s Henrik Marvig (C3), Canada’s Tristen Chernove (C2) and Germany’s Pierre Senska (C1).
Tristen Chernove puts Rio experience behind him
For the Canadian, it was his second rainbow jersey of the Championships after time trial victory on Friday, but Sunday’s win was particularly important: “My last road race at this level was the Rio 2016 Paralympics where I crashed early and had to fight back from nearly last to finish 15th. Today I just wanted to keep in the front and stay out of trouble. It was really important for me to have a clean race. There was a group of us going into the last corner but I knew I still had some gas.”
Darren Hicks (AUS) and François Lacroix (FRA) sprinted to second and third in the same time as Chernove.
Steffen Warias (GER) and Fabio Anobile ITA) took silver and bronze in the MC3 class, while Ricardo Ten Argiles (ESP) and Michael Teuber (GER) completed the podium in the MC1.
Brachtendorf adds to Germany's medal haul
The sprint for victory in the women’s C5 class saw Germany’s Kerstin Brachtendorf take the win in the same time as second-placed Mariela Analia Delgado (Argentina) and bronze medallist Crystal Lane-Wright (GBR). Brachtendorf was astonished after crossing the line: “I’ve always been bad at sprinting, and if it comes to a sprint I usually lose,” she explained. “I kept trying to attack around the back of the course but they stayed with me. So in the last lap, I just tried to keep cool then at 200m I went for it. I still can’t believe I’ve won!”
Her win went towards Germany's total gold medal haul of 10, which put them at the top of the medals table at the end of the four days of competition.
Shawn Morelli (USA) had a more clear-cut win in the WC4 class, claiming her second UCI World title in Pietermaritzburg. She rode home solo, 3:34 ahead of Italian Jenny Narcisi, with Australia’s Meg Lemon in third.
Lauro Cesar rides solo to fulfil his dream
Brazil’s Lauro Cesar created sensation in the 14-lap (85km) MC5 race. Part of an early 2-man breakaway, he soon found himself alone in front and completed what amounted to an 8-lap time trial. He finished the race 2:12 ahead of Austrian Wolfgang Eibeck, with Dorian Foulon (FRA) 29 seconds further back.
“I didn’t expect to find myself at the front so early. I was just testing my legs,” explained the athlete who, despite numerous UCI World Championship medals and silver at the Rio Paralympic Games, has never won the rainbow jersey. “I was very motivated and I have been training hard in Brazil. This is a dream come true and I want to thank the whole Brazilian staff and team. We are like a family.
Another bunch finish in the MC4 race of the same length saw Germany’s Tobias Vetter claim gold in front of Kyle Bridgwood (AUS) and Sergei Pudov (RUS).
Sweden celebrated its second gold medal of the morning with Anna Beck (WC3) winning a four-way sprint for the three podium places. New to the international para-cycling circuit, the Swedish athlete was competing in her first UCI Para-cycling Road World Championships: “I still can’t believe it,” she said after pulling on her rainbow jersey. “At 200m from the finish, I told myself ‘you are going to have the gold medal.’”
Germany’s Denise Schindler and Japan’s Keiko Noguchi took WC3 silver and bronze respectively.
UCI World Champion in the WC2 class is seasoned para-cyclist and para-skier Allison Jones (USA), with Colombian Daniela Carolina Munevar Florez taking silver and Dutch athlete Alyda Norbruis claiming bronze.
Tandems and team relays close competition
The tandems took to the roads in the afternoon. After 72.8km, Irish duo Katie-George Dunlevy and Eve McCrystal confirmed their time trial gold with a sprint win over Poland (Iwona Podkoscielna and Aleksandra Teclaw) and Greece (Eleni Kalatzi and Argyro Milaki).
In the Men’s 109.3km race, Colombians Nelson Javier Serna Moreno and Marlon Perez Arango made a courageous early break and rode alone towards gold, their first at World Championships level. Although the peloton gradually reduced the gap, it was unable to reign in the leaders.
“We talked to each other a lot because communication is very important,” explained the pilot Arango. “We were a bit scared that the peloton would come back but it was important to stay confident.
Nearly 30s off the pace, the Netherlands (Tristan Bangma and Patrick Bos) won the sprint for silver over Poland’s Marcin Polak and Michal Ladosz.
As is the tradition, the team relay closed racing at the UCI Para-cycling Road World Championships. The national hand-cycling teams delighted the crowds with a hard-fought race which, for the fifth consecutive year, was won by Italy (Alessandro Zanardi, Luca Mazzone and Paolo Cecchetto). USA came second and Germany third.
After four days of time trials and road races, Germany tops the nations medal table with 20 medals (10 gold) followed by Italy (14 medals including 7 gold) and the Netherlands (15 medals including 6 gold).