UCI Para-cycling Road World Championships: Luca Mazzone: King of the H2 Class
Mazzone already had two gold medals to his name from the UCI Para-cycling Road World Championships concluding today in Nottwil, Switzerland. To his gold from the hand cycling relay and time trial, Lucas Mazzone added a third Sunday in the H2 road ace.
Three-time gold medallist at the World Championships in Baie-Comeau (Canada) in 2013, and twice crowned Champion in Greenville, (United States) in 2014, Mazzone showed his skills early on in the 42 kilometre race with an escape from the rest of the pack. In the end, he completed the six laps with an advance of 1 minute 11 seconds over nearest competitor American William Groulx, who also finished behind the Italian in the time trial. Third place went to Sweden’s Anders Backman (+4 minutes 51 seconds).
"I tried to attack and make the biggest gap possible but you are never at any point sure that you are going to win in a World Championships. I have been training my strength and resistance really hard so I attacked on an uphill section,”commented Mazzone.
Italy was dominant in Men’s hand cycling road races on Sunday – as had been the case in the time trials. Like Mazzone, Vittorio Podesta (H3) and Alessandro Zanardi (H5) completed an Italian triple medal run.
Zanardi himself earned victory with an impressive sprint final, completing the 46,5 kilometres in 1 hour 29 minutes 21 seconds, battling the Netherlands’ Jetze Plat. Johan Reekers, also from the Netherlands, finished in third place 33 seconds behind the leading duo.
Podesta finished the race with a comfortable lead on Swiss duo Heinz Frei (+ 3 minutes 17 seconds) and Lukas Weber (+4 minutes 29 seconds), who won silver and bronze, respectively.
At 48 years old, Zanardi had planned his race beforehand: “Before the race I had three plans. The first was to break away on the last climb and celebrate on the last half of the lap to the finish line; that was not possible. My second plan was to get away in the downhill; that was not possible either. He (Plat) stuck to me. The third plan was to enter the stadium in first place. We were side by side - he surprised me a little! At that point I had to find a solution and I got to the last corner on the inside so he had to ride further. I am extremely happy, I feel great but now I am totally destroyed!” concluded a tired Zanaradi, who finally managed to shake his closest rival at the finish line.
For his part, the Netherlands’ 24 year-old Plat commented: “I decided to use the first lap to see how I was feeling. I felt strong so I knew I should make the race hard on the uphill. I knew I had to be in front before the last corner and I tried but I didn’t manage to do that. I honestly could not have done more so I must be happy with the silver medal. Now I know what I still have to do - I’m still young and I will work very hard!”
Defending UCI World Champion South Africa’s Ernst Van Dyk was halted by mechanical issues on the first lap and was not able to gain back time lost. He finished in seventh place, a full 12 minutes 45 seconds behind Zanardi.
The World Championship title in the H1 and H4 Classes went to South Africa’s Nicolas Pieter Du Preez and Poland’s Rafal Wilk, who earlier this week also dominated the time trials in their respective categories.
Eskau Returns to the Top
In Women’s racing, Germany’s Andrea Eskau made short work of her competition in the H5 Class, defeating by 6 seconds the athlete who defeated her in Friday’s time trial - the Netherland’s Laura De Vaan. American Oskana Masters (+10 seconds) took third place.
First in the Union Cycliste Internationale rankings last year, Eskau has not had the 2015 season she would have wanted. Currently ranked fourth overall, the 44 year-old athlete was finally able to flourish in the Elzach stage of the World Cup, earning her first medal there.
The German para-cyclist nonetheless sought to defend the title and rainbow jersey she earned at the 2014 World’s in Greenville. “It was different today and I am really proud because I have not had a good season; I didn’t expect to win,” admitted Eskau, who also earned a silver medal two days ago in the time trial.
Fellow German's Christiane Reppe and Silke Pan achieved a one-two podium finish in the H4 Class. Reppe, current Road World Champion completed the 42 kilometre race with a 3 minutes 18 seconds lead over teammate Pan.
“Germany has a really strong women’s hand cycling team and I hope that will enable us to earn some spots for Rio,” mentioned Eskau.
Behind by 7 minutes 21 seconds, Switzerland’s Sandra Graf earned the bronze.
In the H2 Class, Friday’s time trial results repeated themselves as South Africa’s Justine Asher came in ahead of the Netherlands’ Carmen Koedood and Korea’s Mikyoung Jeon.
Italy’s Francesca Porcellato (H3) also earned her second gold medal in three days. After having won gold in the time trial, Porcellato made short work of the field in the 35 kilometre race, crossing the line 2 minutes 1 second ahead of American Alicia Dana and 4 minutes 15 seconds ahead of reigning World Champion, Poland’s Renata Kaluza.
Australia’s Emilie Miller (H1) was the other gold medallist of the day.
With the conclusion of this year’s World Championships, para-cyclists will take advantage of a month’s rest before the final stage of the UCI Para-cycling Road World Cup this season, which will take place in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, from September 11 to 13, 2015.