In this post-Paralympic year, athletes who shone in Tokyo will be looking to confirm their form early in the series as they build up to the 2022 UCI Para-cycling Road World Championships in Baie-Comeau (Canada) mid-August.
After the cancellation of the UCI World Cup in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Ostend hosted the only round that was able to take place last year. The 2022 calendar is back to normal, with the opening round in the Belgian port city taking place from 5 to 8 May.
The second round will be held just a week later, some 650km south-east in Germany, in the Black Forest town of Elzach. After a break, the action picks up for a pair of back-to-back events: Québec City, Canada, will host the third round of the UCI World Cup on 4-7 August before many of the para-cyclists head 250 miles north-east for the 2022 UCI Para-cycling Road World Championships a week later, in Baie-Comeau, also the Championships venue in 2010 and 2013.
Racing at Ostend
A mixture of established names in para-cycling and some new and emerging talents will head to the Flemish city in May. The opening two days of competition are dedicated to individual time trials for handbikes, tandems, cycles and tricycles, with the following two days featuring road events in the same sport classes, plus the team relay.
In the time trials, the 9.9km seafront circuit will be completed between one and three times depending on the sport class: once for WH1 and 2; three laps for MC3, 4, 5 and MB; twice for the remaining sport classes.
The road events will be raced over a 10.2km course to be completed between three and ten times. The action culminates on Sunday evening with the team relay: nine laps of a short 2.7km circuit.
From spikes to cleats
An interesting newcomer to the UCI Para-cycling Road World Cup will be Great Britain’s Libby Clegg. She may be new to this competition, but not to top-level sport, having medalled at the 2008, 2012, 2016 and 2020 Paralympic Games as a track athlete, when she specialised in the 100m and 200m, in the T12 category for athletes with visual impairment. For 2022, Clegg has hung up her sprinting spikes and switched to cycling.
“It’s been an interesting few months learning how to ride a bike again!” said Clegg earlier this year. “Thankfully I’m not in charge of steering! It’s been a privilege working alongside the best pilot @scottie2507 (Helen Scott, Rio 2016 Paralympic Champion) over the past few months. I’m really excited to see what the future holds for us.”
Para-cycling sport classes
C – Cyclist: conventional bike with some minor adaptations
T – Tricycle: three-wheeled bike
B – Blind: tandem
H – Handbike
Each group is divided into different sport classes depending on the severity of the handicap