A memorable day of racing in Emmen, The Netherlands, saw Italy, Germany and the USA increase their medal tallies. It was also a truly golden day for the more experienced athletes. And that’s not forgetting Australia – they dominated Thursday at the UCI Para-Cycling World Championships with seven medals, including five gold. They carried that impressive form over to Friday with three more medals, including two gold. Emilie Miller won the WH1 category while victory also went to 58-year-old Carol Cooke in the WT2 category.
Cooke’s story is unique. The Canadian-born Australian started out as an able-bodied swimmer with ambitions to compete at the 1980 Moscow Olympics. But Canada, for whom Cooke was then competing, boycotted the Games. She moved to Australia in 1994, was diagnosed with MS in 1998 and has won subsequently numerous para-cycling titles since including three Paralympic golds and, of course, today’s world title.
Another experienced campaigner, Germany’s Hans-Peter Durst, won gold in the men’s T2 category. Para-cycling is growing apace with new, young athletes entering the sport – but the competition was no match for the 61-year-old today, who held off a spirited Stuart Jones (AUS) with Ryan Boyle (USA) in third.
While Australia’s consistency sees them top the medal table, the day belonged to Italy. The first two days of action saw Italy win one gold in the team relay on Wednesday. But by the close of action on Friday, Italy had seven medals, five of them gold!
It started in the women’s H2 category when Roberta Amadeo won the title ahead of The Netherlands’ Carmen Koedood. And after lunch, Italy just couldn’t stop winning. Things started to heat up in the men’s H5 category thanks to Alessandro Zanardi’s victory. The 52-year-old, having won mixed relay gold on Wednesday, continued that success thanks to a superb 29:37min finishing time. He had to be on form as Tim de Vries (NED) crossed the line just 4secs down.
Zanardi’s victory was his 12th world title since victory in the 2013 time trial in Baie-Comeau, Canada, which hosted a round of this year’s UCI World Cup series. The result also bodes well for the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics, where the former Formula One driver will look to win his fifth Paralympic gold medal.
Luca Mazzone, part of Wednesday’s successful relay team, took gold in the H2 category, while Sergio Garrote Munoz won Spain’s first medal with silver. Then Paolo Cecchetto became the third member of the relay team to win individual gold in one afternoon with the H1 category ahead of Belgium’s Maxime Hordies. Bronze went to Nicolas Pieter du Preez, South Africa’s first medal this week.
Next came one of the most eagerly awaited appearances of the entire championships as The Netherlands’ Jetze Plat, the 28-year-old star of para-sport, rolled under the spotlight. He wouldn’t have it all his own way in Emmen, though, with 2018 winner Thomas Fruhwirth (AUT) a strong challenger for gold – and his 29:18mins time was impressive. Yet it was bettered by the USA’s Tom Davis in 28:30mins: a superb effort, but only good enough for silver, as Plat recorded a devastating 28:03mins, averaging 44.47km/hr, to take the victory. Can anyone beat him in Sunday’s H4 road race?
Plat’s victory capped a successful day for the host nation with Jennette Jansen winning gold in the H4 category, taking The Netherlands’ medal tally to six. That’s good, but four behind the USA who won six on Friday including gold for Alicia Dana in the women’s H3. Germany doubled their total to sit on eight medals including golds for Vico Merklein (H3) and Andrea Eskau (H5) along with Durst’s. A special mention goes to Jianxin Chen who won China’s third medal of the championships in the T1 category – all of China’s medals glisten gold!
So after the second full day of racing at the 2019 UCI Para-Cycling Road World Championships, it’s Australia who lead the medal table with seven golds and Italy closing in with five. The time trials are complete, and over the weekend, it’s the road races.