UCI Para-cycling Track World Championships truly “belong to all”

Action on the fourth and final day in Milton, Canada, drew the biggest-ever UCI Para-cycling Track World Championships - with a total of 48 events – to a close. And running in Paralympic year, the event brought additional global attention to para-cycling.

Chinese dominance

Twenty-one nations collected medals at the Mattamy National Cycling Centre, with athletes from 10 different nations awarded gold and the coveted rainbow jerseys of UCI World Champion.

China’s strength and depth of talent made them the runaway leaders with 21 medals (nine of them gold!). The world records kept tumbling too, with China setting another in the mixed team sprint final as they beat the British team into silver medal position. It was a close battle for second place in the overall medals table between Great Britain and Australia: that battle was decided on the final day in Britain’s favour with a total of 14 medals (seven of them gold), including a late flurry in the tandem sprints.

We’ve seen close competition, amazing performances, world records a-plenty, and a new exciting element with the first full running of the Omnium, and the strategic 1km tandem mixed team sprint for ‘stoker’ riders with visual impairment paired with their sighted ‘pilots’.

First official Omnium

The Omnium brings together a number of different races across which riders accumulate points for an overall title. It has been raced in able-bodied UCI Track Cycling World Championships since 2007, but is new to the UCI Para-cycling World Championships. This year it comprises four events: time trial (500m for women, 1km for men); 200m flying start time trial; individual pursuit (3km or 4km, depending on classification) and the Scratch Race (10km or 15km, depending on classification).

The Omnium was introduced to the 2019 UCI Para-cycling World Championships in Apeldoorn (NED), as a test event in C1-C5 classifications for Men and Women. Although the performances in races there delivered medals in individual events, tests events do not count for the UCI Ranking and the winning athletes were not awarded a UCI World Champion's title. It was this weekend that the first Omnium rainbow jerseys were awarded.

As well as being an additional test for the athletes, the Omnium adds another level of sustained involvement for viewers, with their attention being held longer to watch the conclusion of the overall title; many of them being decided on the last and longest element, the Scratch Race. These factors combine to move para-cycling closer to parity with able-bodied competition in format, scale and perception.

The deciding rides

Saturday 1st February had already seen the conclusion of the Women’s Omnium with the last of the four events, the Scratch Race for C1-C2, C3, C4 and C5 classifications, along with the Men’s C1 and C2. The Men’s C3, C4 and C5 classifications were decided on Sunday 2nd February.

In the Men’s C3, Britain’s Jaco van Gass took a risk launching early and gaining a lap on the rest of the field to win the Scratch Race from Russia’s Aleksei Obydennov in second and Spain’s Eduardo Santas Asensio. The result meant the exact same podium positions in the Omnium overall. It produced Van Gass’ second and third gold medals and rainbow jerseys of the Championships.

For Slovakian Jozef Metelka in the C4, it was the combination of wins in the third (pursuit) and fourth (Scratch) events that sealed the Omnium overall for him with 158 points from Jason Macom (USA) on 140.

Then in the MC5 Scratch Race, Australia’s Alistair Donohoe and Daniel Abraham Gebru (the Netherlands), lapped the field, including France’s Dorian Foulon and Lauro Cesar Mouro Chaman of Brazil. However, consistency throughout the multi-race competition from the latter two saw them take gold and silver respectively.

Britain’s final flourish

In the Women’s B Tandem Sprint, Great Britain’s Sophie Thornhill (and pilot Helen Scott) beat Belgium to retain their title. And in the Men’s Tandem B Sprint, we saw GBR vs GBR, a repeat of 2019’s final. It was James Ball (and Lewis Stewart) who took the gold winning the first two rides ahead of last year’s UCI World Champions Neil Fachie (and Mathew Rotherham), with a photo-finish on the second ride.

The final medals table is here: https://tracktiming.live/results/E2003/SUMMARY-R.htm

For results and details from all four days of the 2020 UCI Para-cycling Track World Championships here: https://www.uci.org/para-cycling/events/uci-para-cycling-track-world-championships

It’s goodbye from Milton – we hope we’ve left you inspired and ready to watch many of these para-cyclists when they compete at the Tokyo Paralympics this summer.