Ernst Van Dyk snatches road cycling H5 gold

There were shocks and surprises during Thursday’s (15 September) road cycling at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games. 16 Sep 2016
Men's Cycling Road Race H5 in Rio de Janeiro

Ernst Van Dyk RSA (left) competes in the Men's Cycling Road Race H5 at Pontal ahead of Alfredo De Los Santos USA and Alessandro Zanardi ITA (centre).

ⒸThomas Lovelock for OIS/IOC

South African Ernst Van Dyk snatched the road cycling H5 gold, to the surprise of many, after covering the 60km in 1:37:49 seconds. Towards the end of the race he sprinted ahead of Italian Alessandro Zanardi and Dutch Jetze Plat, who finished second and third, respectively.

In the H4, German Vico Merklein stole the victory away from Polish Rafal Wilk after winning the 60km road race in 1:28:48. This is a second medal for Merklein in Rio, on top of his time trial bronze.

Double medallist in London 2012, and holder of the event’s world title, Wilk came three seconds behind Merklein. His silver medal added to his gold from Wednesday’s (14 September) time trial. The third place on the podium went to France’s Joël Jeannot.

It was certainly a disappointing day for Vittorio Podesta, time trial gold medal winner and a dominant force in the H3 class over the past three years. On Thursday (15 September), he had to resign himself to the sixth place, despite leading for most of the race.

His fellow countryman, Paolo Cecchetto, was the first to cover the 60km, crossing the finish line after 1:33:17. Germany’s Maximilian Weber and Canada’s Charles Moreau were also in the final sprint, finishing second and third respectively.

Things played out quite differently on the women’s side, with the favourites keeping up with the expectations.

In the H5, Andrea Eskau made the podium yet again, claiming the road race gold. The 45-year-old German, H4-5 time trial double-medallist at London 2012 and silver medallist at Rio 2016, covered the 45km road race in 1:37:07. She has dominated the event in the past three editions of the UCI Para-cycling Road World Championships.

After securing the time trial bronze, the Netherlands’ Laura de Vaan finished two seconds after Eskau and just before her fellow countrywoman Jennette Jansen.

Germany’s Christiane Reppe won the H1-2-3 45-km road race. A two-time UCI world champion in the H4 event, she stopped the clock at 1:15:56.

“It’s a feeling I’ve never had before,” said Reppe, who took up cycling after London 2012. “I’ve never had a gold medal in the Paralympics. When I was a swimmer I was always third and behind.

“I’ve been working a lot and very hard, especially in the last year. Trying everything to get the gold medal, and it really happened.”

In a tense battle for second place, Korean Doyeon Lee (H4) got the better of Italian Francesca Porcellato (H3). Both of them finished two seconds after the champion.