Paralympic Games
24 August - 5 September 2021

Day of the Dutch as cycling road racers rule at Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games

Dominant Netherlands sweep up three gold medals in six races 01 Sep 2021
Man celebrates in handbike as opponent disappointed
Mitch Valize sprinted past Loic Vergnaud to win the men's road race H5 title at Tokyo 2020
By IPC and OIS

Mitch Valize sprinted past Loic Vergnaud in the last metres of the 79.2-kilometre men's H5 road race to kickstart a Wednesday (1 September) of Dutch cycling road dominance.

With 500m left of the race, Vergnaud looked like a gold medallist with Valize about 50 metres behind. Then Tuesday's time trial champion made a last push to claim his second gold medal in as many two days.

"I saw him (Vergnaud) looking back so I knew he wasn't feeling strong enough to finish it," Valize said. "The pain was everywhere, but (I was) thinking about my coach, my family, my parents, my sister - make them proud. Then at 50m I was next to him, and at about 10m I passed him and I thought, 'f**k yeah, I got it'. Unbelievable."

Fellow compatriot Jennette Jansen was in the lead pack of the women's H1-4 road race before deciding to break away with under 1km to go, bagging her 10th Paralympic medal six seconds clear of Germany’s Annika Zeyen, who won silver.

The 53-year-old, who won her first three gold medals in athletics at the Seoul 1988 Paralympic Games, said her 'mind game' and 'engine' were getting stronger every year.

"Winning gives me the spirit to carry on," said Jansen.

Rain and fog began to settle in the late afternoon at the Fuji Speedway International, but Jetze Plat did not let up. He proved to have plenty left in his tank despite winning gold medals in triathlon on Sunday and in the cycling road time trial on Tuesday.

The 30-year-old crushed the opposition in the men's H4 road race, finishing five minutes and 43 seconds before silver medallist Thomas Fruehwirth of Austria, to complete the golden triple.

"In every race I felt stronger and stronger," Plat said. "So many things can happen but I was in the best shape, I didn't make any mistakes and I deserve the three gold medals."

USA’s Oksana Masters clinched a second gold medal in as many days after winning the H5 road race. While leading the pack with Sun Bianbian, the Chinese athlete eventually motioned for Masters to move in front of her, as she could not keep the pace. Then from there, it was clear Masters had her 10th Paralympic medal in store.

“Everyone was saying to me yesterday I did well and I wanted to prove to myself it wasn’t a one-off, it wasn’t a fluke, it wasn’t an accident,” Masters said. "I wanted to prove I’m growing as a cyclist and I’m making the changes to the wrongs I did back in Rio. I’m a true cyclist now.”

A battle to the finish line saw the RPC’s Ruslan Kuznetsov edge Switzlerland’s Heinz Frei to win the men’s H3 race.

Competition resumes on Thursday (2 September) with four more road races and mixed team relay.