UCI Para-cycling Track Worlds: home crowd celebrates Brazilian gold
The 2018 UCI Para-cycling Track World Championships could not have finished on more positive note for the local crowd in Rio: with a gold medal for Brazil.
On the fourth and final day of competition Sunday, home athlete Lauro Cesar Chaman took the C4-5 world title at the end of a nail-biting 15km Scratch Race.
The local athlete was in the thick of the action from the outset, staying with all the moves before powering round the last lap in a neck and neck battle with Australia’s Alistair Donohoe. There were a few moments of uncertainty at the end until Chaman was announced winner and the crowd in the Velodromo Municipal do Rio erupted.
“The plan was to come into this competition strong and go with the fastest athletes who had big teams,” explained the new UCI World Champion, who won the bronze medal in the specialty in Los Angeles last year. “The last lap was very exciting for me and I was carried along by the energy of the public and my family. I wasn’t totally sure I had won but I had a feeling the victory was mine.”
The Brazilian’s performance was witnessed by his extended family: “My family is my foundation and I am so glad they saw me win gold. My grandmother took a plane for the first time in her life to come and watch.
“This is the biggest family gathering since the birth of my son. I am so happy I can share this moment with them.”
Until now Chaman has considered himself a road specialist – at Rio 2016 he won Paralympic silver in the road race and bronze in the road time trial – but he plans to work on his track cycling with a view to the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics.
Joining Chaman and Donohoe on the podium was third-placed Daniel Abraham Gebru, of the Netherlands.
In the MC1-3 Scratch Race, Colombia’s Alejandro Perea Arango continued to impress with his second gold medal of the Championships after the time trial on Friday. The young athlete finished a lap ahead of the rest of the field, which was led by Australian Darren Hicks (2nd) and Canadian Tristen Chernove (3rd).
British domination in tandem racing
The 200m qualifications got off to a flying start in the morning with the Australian women’s tandem of Jessica Gallagher and Madison Janssen breaking the world record. However, their reign as world's fastest was short lived as Great Britain’s Sophie Thornhill and Helen Scott took to the track and lowered the mark still further: to 10.891.
After their second world record in as many days – they set a world record yesterday in the 1km time trial - the dream continued for the British pair, who went on to win the sprint final in two straight heats against Australia.
“It’s really more than we thought,” exclaimed a delighted Helen ‘Scottie’. We’d never beaten Australia in a match sprint and they pushed us all the way.”
Celebrations will have to wait, as the British team had just a few hours to pack up their bikes for a flight to Australia, where the two tandems will cross paths again at the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast next month.
The Netherlands (Griet Hoet and Anneleen Monsieur) beat Ireland in two straight heats to claim the Women’s sprint bronze medal.
The British men’s tandem of Neil Fachie and pilot Matthew Rotherham had a similarly clear passage through to the rainbow jersey, winning their final match sprint against the Netherlands (Tristan Bangma and Patrick Bos) in two heats.
“We won the first race from the back and came around them quite comfortably but we didn’t rest on our laurels,” explained Rotherham.
“We felt confident we could win but anything can happen in a race,” added Fachie.
In the bronze-medal final another British tandem (James Ball and Peter Mitchell) beat Australia into third.
Mixed team sprint: sense of relief for winners
Great Britain also celebrated gold in the C1-5 team sprint over 750m. After morning qualifications, the trio of Louis Rolfe, Jon-Allan Butterworth and Jody Cundy were up against the Chinese team of Zhangyu Li, Guoping Wei and Shanzhang Lai. The British team, which had set the world record on the same velodrome during the Rio 2016 Paralympics, took a clear win to claim the rainbow jersey.
“Obviously we’re really happy but it’s also a relief,” said lead-out man Louis Rolfe afterwards, “We came here wanting to replicate our performance from Rio 2016 but you never know how it will pan out.”
The bronze medal final was more closely fought, with Spain and the USA crossing the line in the same time of 51.181. Having clocked the fastest final lap, Spain was awarded the bronze medal.
Of the 30 nations represented at the four-day World Championships, 17 saw at least one of their athletes grace the podium. Great Britain headed the medals table with 11 gold, four silver the three bronze, followed by the Netherlands (five gold, two silver and four bronze) and China (three gold, four silver and three bronze.)