UCI Para-cycling Road World Championships: the world converges on Greenville
Greenville, with its population of 61,000, is situated in South Carolina, on the east coast of the United States, and is getting ready to be the epicentre of the para-cycling world! 291 athletes from 44 countries will be competing between Thursday and Monday in relay events, time trials, and road races. That’s 27 participants and six nations more than in 2013 at Baie Comeau (Canada). Yesterday, the participating countries took part in a procession in Greenville, and today the celebrations will give way to the actual competition, starting with the handbike relay. These UCI World Championships effectively crown the para-cycling season, a month after the round at Segovia (Spain) determined the winners of the UCI World Cup. Since 2007, the World Championships have been under the auspices of the UCI, which took over from the International Paralympic Committee (IPC). The event will in fact be the 11th World Championships, and the 9th in the “UCI era”.
Two years after being awarded the World Championships, the organisers have done their utmost to put Greenville on the world map. They were aware that the country hadn’t been chosen since Utah in 1998. Last year, a test event, the Greenville SC Para-cycling Open, approved by UCI, took place. The organisers then went to observe the USA Championships in Chattanooga, in neighbouring Tennessee. Today, Greenville feels ready to take up the challenge. “At the beginning, we wanted an international competition, but we got the World Championships!”, related Stan Healy, President of Notus Sports, the local company with responsibility for organising the event. “Greenville will welcome the world, and the world will become better known in the USA thanks to Greenville.”
Team USA is aiming for 20 medals
A traditional stronghold in this discipline, the American team is ready to live up to its status as the host country team. Led by the star Jamie Whitmore, Team USA is arriving with 44 athletes of which 19 Paralympians and 7 sportsmen and women having won titles in 2013 in Canada. Greenville’s flag-carrier will be Aaron Trent, 28, double world medallist CP4 and member of the Roger Craft Peace training group, based and dependant of the hospital re-education centre of the same name. This armada from Uncle Sam, most successful nation last year in Canada with 19 medals, in front of Germany and Italy, is hoping to win the 20 “trinkets” at home.
Team USA will not be the only one to make a name for Greenville. The UCI Para-cycling Road World Championships will sparkle thanks to the stars of the discipline: Alessandro Zanardi (Italy), Ernest van Dyk (South Africa), Lora Turnham and Corrine Hall (Great-Britain), and Alyda Norbruis (Netherlands). Stars who will endeavour to shine, aware that the results will count towards a place in the 2016 Rio Paralympic Games.
Para-cycling sport classes
C - Cyclist: conventional bike with some minor adaptations
T - Tricycle: three-wheeled bike
B - Blind: tandem
H - Handbike
Each group is divided into different sport classes depending on the severity of the handicap