Para-Cyclists Find Solace Training in Italy

31 Aug 2011 By IPC

Michael Teuber is more than happy with his current training programme at Lake Garda, right outside the Italian city of Verona.

For the German Para-Cyclist, a three-time Paralympic gold medallist, it is an opportunity to succeed in a systematic training programme in a peaceful environment.

No work, no urgent matters to attend to. Just he, his bicycle and his family nestled along the beautiful Italian landscape for five weeks.

Less than 200km northwest, near the border of Switzerland, Italy’s own three-time Paralympian Fabrizio Macchi is training six to seven days a week in Varese, a patchwork town of rivers and valleys filled by nearly 82,000 inhabitants.

Both Macchi and Teuber have been blessed with stress-free training environments leading up to the 2011 Para-Cycling Road World Championships.

A total of 358 athletes from 46 countries will be competing in the Championships, which will take place from 8-11 September in Roskilde, Denmark, and it will be the final chance for athletes to tally enough points to qualify for London 2012.

As Macchi is classified as a C2 Para-Cyclist and Tueber a C1 Para-Cyclist, they will actually be racing on the road at the exact same time but for different medals.

All competitors in the men’s C1-C3 classes will compete in the 15.2km Time Trial at 10:00 on 8 September and in the 61.5km Road Race at 16:00 on 10 September.

Heading into the Championships, Teuber is one of the most established athletes on the Para-Cycling road circuit, having won gold medals at both the Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008 Games. He has also won a combined 16 World Championships in the track, road and mountain biking disciplines.

Next week’s event in Roskilde will be Teuber’s biggest road race before the Paralympic Games.

“I profiled the course,” Teuber said of Roskilde, “and I try to imitate the profile here in my training.”

“It’s possible to (win) another gold in London, but we have a new classification system, so the classes are getting even more competitive,” he added.

Teuber has already earned double victories on the road three times this year, and if he can hold off Great Britain’s young gun Mark Colbourne in the time trial, he may just grab a fourth in Roskilde.

Macchi, a Para-Cyclist since 1999, said he has already received enough points to qualify for London 2012, but that the competition in Para-Cycling is now stiffer than ever before, both on the road and the track.

He actually noted that his bronze-medal winning time in the track pursuit at Athens 2004 would barely be good enough to even make the field at London 2012.

Macchi said Para-Cyclists have transitioned from “normal people” to “elite athletes” in just the last decade alone. He has had to juggle raising two children and anchoring his own para-sports programme on Sky Sports in addition to keeping pace with many up-and-coming Para-Cyclists who have blasted onto the circuit.

Lately, Macchi has even challenged himself by heading across the border to Switzerland to train on its hard-hitting hills.

While Denmark may not be as hilly as Switzerland, Maachi’s performance on the copious curves of Roskilde’s roads will reveal just how far he has come in the last 12 years.