"It was really important for me to have a clean race. There was a group of us going into the last corner but I knew I still had some gas.”
A thrilling 2017 UCI Para Cycling Road World Championships came to a close on Sunday (3 September) in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa.
After four days of time trials and road races, Germany topped the medals table with 20 medals (10 gold) followed by Italy (14 medals, seven gold) and the Netherlands (15 medals, six gold).
Chernove puts Rio behind him
Canadian Tristen Chernove – already a four-time track world champion – had an outstanding World Championships, leaving with double gold. Taking the rainbow jersey after his time trial C2 victory on Friday (1 September), Sunday’s road race win was special.
“My last road race at this level was the Rio 2016 Paralympics where I crashed early and had to fight back from nearly last to finish 15th,” he said. “Today I just wanted to keep in the front and stay out of trouble. It was really important for me to have a clean race. There was a group of us going into the last corner but I knew I still had some gas.”
Brachtendorf adds to Germany’s haul
The sprint for victory in the women’s C5 class saw Germany’s Kerstin Brachtendorf take the win in the same time as Argentina’s second-placed Mariela Analia Delgado and Great Britain’s bronze medallist Crystal Lane-Wright.
“I’ve always been bad at sprinting, and if it comes to a sprint I usually lose,” Brachtendorf explained. “I kept trying to attack around the back of the course but they stayed with me. So in the last lap, I just tried to keep cool then at 200m I went for it. I still can’t believe I’ve won!”
Her win, as well as compatriot’s Tobias Vetter in the men’s C4, contributed to Germany's total gold medal haul of 10, which saw them top of the medals table.
The USA’s Shawn Morelli had a more clear-cut win in the WC4 class, claiming her second UCI World title in Pietermaritzburg to add to her victory in the time trial.
Cesar fulfils dream
Brazil’s Lauro Cesar created sensation in the 14-lap (85km) MC5 race. Part of an early two-man breakaway, he soon found himself alone in front and completed what amounted to an eight-lap time trial. He finished the race 2:12 ahead of Austrian Wolfgang Eibeck, with France’s Dorian Foulon 29 seconds further back.
“I was very motivated and I have been training hard in Brazil. This is a dream come true and I want to thank the whole Brazilian staff and team. We are like a family,” explained the athlete who, despite numerous UCI World Championship medals and silver at the Rio Paralympic Games, has never won the rainbow jersey.
Despite being new to the Para cycling circuit, Sweden’s Anna Beck won a four-way sprint in the women’s C3 event.
UCI world champion in the women’s C2 class is seasoned Para cyclist and Para skier Allison Jones of the USA.
Tandems, team relays close competition
After 72.8km on Sunday, Irish duo Katie-George Dunlevy and Eve McCrystal confirmed their time trial gold with a sprint win.
In the men’s 109.3km race, Colombians Nelson Javier Serna Moreno and Marlon Perez Arango made a courageous early break and rode alone towards gold, their first at World Championships level.
As is the tradition, the team relay closed racing at the Road World Championships. The national hand-cycling teams delighted the crowds with a hard-fought race which, for the fifth consecutive year, was won by Italy (Alex Zanardi, Luca Mazzone and Paolo Cecchetto).
Time trial review
Poland’s podium regular Anna Harkowska finally took her first rainbow jersey at a road event, after finishing just 10 seconds ahead of the USA’s Samantha Bosco in Friday’s time trial C5 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,” Harkowska commented.
Slovakian Josef Metelka, reigining Paralympic champion, took his first gold at UCI World Championships level in the men’s C4 on Friday.
“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.”
Complete results from the 2017 UCI Para Cycling Road World Championships can be found on the UCI’s website.