The final day of the 2019 UCI Para-Cycling Road World Championships in Emmen, The Netherlands, provided a fitting send-off to the world’s finest para-cyclists and hordes of spectators with some outstanding individual performances, the highlights of which were the victories of Australia’s Carol Cooke and The Netherlands’ Jetze Plat.
Fifty-eight-year-old Cooke won the women’s T2 time trial earlier in the championships, her eighth world title. She didn’t have to wait long for her ninth in eight years, edging Germany’s Angelika Dreock-Kaser over the 29.6km course by just one second. Another German, Jana Majunke, completed the podium. Cooke’s attention now turns to Tokyo 2020 where she’ll look to win her fourth – and possibly fifth – Paralympic gold medals.
The confidence of 28-year-old Plat will also be sky high as the para-cycling superstar won the H4 66.6km road race, his third world title in less than two weeks. On Friday, Plat stormed to time-trial success just one week after winning his fourth consecutive para-triathlon world title. Today, his hat-trick of world golds again came at the expense of silver medallist Thomas Davis (USA), who also finished second in the time trial. It was a great effort by the former army staff sergeant – as it was by third-placed Travis Gaertner (USA) with all three registering 1:39:01.
Two individuals, two world-class performances. But it was the collective strength of the German team that realised an incredible seven medals on the final day, three of which were gold thanks to Annika Zeyens in the women’s H3, Andrea Eskau in the women’s H5 and Vico Merklein in the men’s H3 road races.
Elsewhere, America’s Ryan Boyle added men’s T2 gold to his T2 time-trial bronze, while Jianxin Chen won China’s seventh gold medal of the championships, holding off second-placed Maximilian Jäger (GER) and bronze medallist Giorgio Farroni (ITA). Chapeau to Italy’s Roberta Amadeo and Australia’s Emilie Miller, whose respective victories in the women’s H2 and H1 road races delivered their second golds of the competition.
The Netherlands’ Jennette Jansen delighted the home nation by winning her second gold, ahead of Sandra Graf (SUI) and Doyeon Lee (KOR) in the women’s H4 road race. The 51-year-old is one of the most celebrated and versatile athletes in para-sport history. She won wheelchair marathon and track medals at the 1992 Barcelona Paralympics, before winning silver in the team basketball competition at the 1996 Atlanta Paralympics. She then won road-race bronze at the 2016 Rio Paralympics. Who’d best against Jansen adding to the tally in Tokyo?
And further congratulations to the following trio: Eltje Malzbender (NZL), who won the women’s T1 category; the victorious Luca Mazzone (ITA) in the men’s H2 road race; and Maxime Hordies (BEL) in the men’s H1 category. A special mention also to Teppo Polvi, whose bronze behind Hordies was Finland’s first medal of the championships. Finally, it was fitting that Tim de Vries (NED) won the last gold of the championships in the H5 category, the home nation’s seventh of a memorable games.
As the curtain calls on a memorable 2019 UCI Para-Cycling Road World Championships, congratulations to Australia whose nine gold medals out of 15 headed the medal tally. Germany’s fantastic final day lifted them to second overall with Italy’s golden Friday giving them third. USA won the most medals – 20. Thank you to all who raced, the thousands of spectators who lined the streets and the terrific organising team for a wonderful event.