SA para-cycling shines at World Cup
15 July 2011
The South African para-cycling team returned from the 2011 UCI Para-cycling Road World Cup Final, which took place from in Baie-Comeau, Québec, Canada from 8 to 10 July with a haul of six medals.
The three-day event hosted an assortment of categories in the road racing discipline, accommodating hand-cycling, tri-cycling and bicycling.
Day one was a huge success for South Africa with 20-year-old Goldy Fuchs earning a bronze medal in the very first event, the time trial for T2 men. He missed out on the silver medal by a mere three seconds, while teammates Gerhard Viljoen and Riaan Nel finished fourth and fifth respectively.
Two on the podium
With two South African flags accompanying the gold medallist's German flag on the UCI podium, the handover of the silver and bronze medals to Fuchs and Viljoen was loudly applauded by an enthusiastic crowd.
Not to be outdone by her male T2 counterparts, Madre Carinus rode the race of her life and won silver in her time trial event, beating the current world champion by a significant margin.
Extending the successes of his T2 teammates, Ernst van Dyk earned bronze for his time trial.
Commenting after the race, Van Dyk, the nine-time Boston Marathon champion, felt that he had selected the wrong gear cluster for the conditions on the day. He found himself short of a gear on the circuit's long climb and struggled for much of the race against a strong wind.
After his day one struggles, success was all the sweeter on the second day for Van Dyk when he won the gold medal in a nail-biting sprint finish in the H4 road race.
Reigning world champion Oscar Sanchez was relegated to third place after he failed in a break away bid against van Dyk and Belgian Wim Decleir on the first lap, blowing out in the process.
C4 rider Janos Plekker participated in the gruelling road race event on the third and final day of competition. The circuit included a killer climb (long and steep), which provided a huge advantage to climbing specialists. The circuit also provided little opportunity for riders to make up time lost on the climb.
Riding in an extremely competitive class, Janos achieved the target set for him, which was to finish in 10th place, thus earning points for Team South Africa.
Teammate Jaco Nel, who had won two silver medals and one bronze medal in previous UCI events in 2011, unfortunately had to withdraw from the road due to bronchitis.
At the conclusion of the World Cup, the medal tally for the South African Para-cycling team was six medals: one gold, two silver, and three bronze medals, which was the best performance achieved in many years.
Athletes from 27 countries travelled to Baie-Comeau in the hope of gaining as many UCI points towards qualification for the 2012 London Olympic Games. It was also the last occasion for Para-cyclists to confront each other before the World Championships in the Danish city of Roskilde, from 8 to 11 September.
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