UCI Para-cycling Road Worlds: Fierce battles come down to mere seconds
Drama and passion marked day two of time trial events at the UCI Para-cycling Road World Championships, as numerous world titles won Friday were fiercely disputed in windy conditions.
Narrow wins were the theme of the day, and included that of Poland’s Anna Harkowska, who earned the C5 rainbow jersey with a mere 10-second advance over American Samantha Bosco.
“Always a bridesmaid, never a bride” could be a phrase to describe Harkowska - a podium regular at the most prestigious international competitions, who has had difficulty ascending to top honours. The renown Polish para-cyclist was thrilled with her very first rainbow jersey at a road event.
“It is beautiful! We decided not to use the disc wheel because of the wind, and it was a good decision. I felt good and my coach told me to keep up the pace,” she commented.
Another para-cyclist displaying her prowess on the road after having already established it on the track was American Shawn Morelli, racing in the C4 category. Morelli out-raced Germany’s Raphaela Maria Eggert and Australia’s Meg Lemon.
Two times the cycling power equalled twice the heat in battles for tandem honours today. Ireland’s Katie-George Dunlevy and Eve McCrystal (pilot) defeated nearest rivals, Britain’s Lora Fachie and Corrine Hall (pilot) by a scant 5 seconds over the 31-kilometre course.
The lead changed several times, and at the turnaround on the last of four laps the Irish pair heard they were three seconds down: “We knew it was going to be tough,” said Dunlevy, accustomed to winning by larger margins in this year’s UCI World Cup events. “We were suffering so much we didn’t even manage to talk to each other. It wasn’t a course suited to us but luckily there was a fourth lap so we could use our strength and endurance. We really needed that fourth lap.”
In Men’s tandem racing, Poland once again took podium honours, with the team of Marcin Polak and Michal Ladosz (pilot) getting across the line for the gold medal only 3 seconds ahead of Britain’s Stephen Bate and Adam Duggleby (pilot).
In C2 racing, Canada’s Tristen Chernove reigned supreme once again. Already a four-time Track UCI World Champion, he was also the man to beat on the road today - and no one could! Only Australia’s Darren Hicks and Peru’s Israel Hilario Rimas got close to the flying Canadian, the latter two coming in for silver and bronze respectively.
“I love hard courses with hills, and the gusty wind made it even more challenging,” said Chernove. “I have always been competitive and I was riding to win. I will be riding to win (in the road race) on Sunday too.”
Canada celebrated another rainbow jersey courtesy of Michael Sametz (C3), bronze medallist in the time trial at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.
Daniela Carolina Munevar Florez grabbed a medal for Team Colombia in the WC2 category, while Keiko Noguchi (WC3) gave Japan it’s first medal in Pietermaritzburg - gold!
Slovakian para-cyclist Josef Metelka, reigining Paralympic Champion, took his first gold at UCI World Championships level. The victory was not without effort since 12 tiny seconds separated him from Australia’s Kyle Bridgwood - who was also hot on Metelka’s heels in the same event at the Rio Paralympics last year: “I’ve waited a long time for this medal,” said a delighted Metelka. “I was pulling the same average for the first three laps, then pushed hard in the fourth. I would love to win the road race on Sunday but it’s a different ball game and every day is different. I’m just over the moon to have this medal today.”
The Netherlands Daniel Abraham Gebru (C5) also squeaked by his nearest rival to win by only 9 seconds, over the Ukraine’s Yehor Dementyev.
The Men’s C1 division was dominated by Germany’s Michael Teuber, multiple Paralympic and UCI World Champion in the discipline. He enjoyed a more comfortable margin of 28s over Canadian Ross Wilson.
Saturday, racing continues with the first day of road races.