The world’s best para-cyclists gather in Emmen, the Netherlands, this week for the 2019 UCI Para-cycling Road World Championships. From September 11 to 15, the athletes will not only be aiming for World titles in their respective categories, but also looking to consolidate their qualification campaigns for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics.
Time trials: Reigning UCI World Champions among main contenders
Action gets under way on Wednesday evening with the handbike (H1-5) team relay, covering nine 1.43km laps.
Thursday and Friday will be devoted to individual time trials with cycling (C) and tandem (B) categories up first. Racing starts with the men’s C2 category over two laps of a 10.4km course in an around Emmen city centre. The three favourites look to be Belgium’s Ewoud Vromant, Tristen Chernove (CAN) and Czech athlete Ivo Koblasa, with just six points separating the three, in that order, in the current UCI Ranking. Also keep an eye out for Russia’s Arslan Gilmutdinov who held off Chernove for gold in 2018.
The women’s C5 and C4 categories are up next with Great Britain’s Dame Sarah Storey returning to defend her C5 title. The 41-year-old is arguably the most versatile British athlete in Paralympic history: formerly a swimmer, she won five Paralympic gold medals in this sport before turning to cycling in 2005 where she has four Paralympic titles plus 14 road world medals and another 17 on the track. World number one Kerstin Brachtendorf (GER) looks like Storey’s biggest rival in Emmen.
US athlete Shawn Morelli will look to retain her C4 world crown, though faces stiff competition from France’s Katell Alencon, who leads the UCI Rankings.
It’s then the turn of the men’s C1 time-triallists with 2018 bronze medallist Ricardo Ten Argiles arguably the favourite after winning four titles across the road and TT competitons in the 2019 UCI World Cup series. However, Germany’s Michael Teuber, holder of the C1 UCI Hour Record timed by Tissot, will be looking to retain his title and add yet another rainbow jersey to his extensive collection.
In women’s racing, favourites include Australian Paige Greco (C3), Austria’s Yvonne Marzinke (C2) and Great Britain’s Katie Toft (C1)
The tandems will tackle three laps of the time trial course, for a distance of 31.2km. Thirty-nine-year-old Dutch para-cyclist Vincent ter Schure and pilot Timo Fransen are favourites in the men’s competition after enjoying a clean sweep of victories across all three rounds of the UCI World Cup, in Corridonia (ITA), Ostend (BEL) and Baie-Comeau (CAN).
Action then turns to the men’s C5, C4 and C3 categories with the standout athlete Sergei Pudov in the C4 category. The Russian enjoyed a staggering 2019 UCI World Cup season, racking up five golds.
Thursday’s events conclude with the women’s tandems, which could well come down to a three-way battle between the leading two riders in the 2019 UCI Rankings – Iwona Podkoscielna (POL) and Lora Fachie (GBR) – and 2018 winner Katie-George Dunlevy (IRL).
Friday’s will see athletes in the tricycle (T) and handbike (H) categories take to the time trial course, with the men’s T2 racing first over 20.8km. It could be a USA face-off as 2019 UCI Rankings leader Matthew Rodriguez contests 2018 UCI World Championships gold medallist Ryan Boyle.
Australia’s Carol Cooke is the one to beat in the women’s T2 time trial, while Gonzalo Garcia Abella (ESP), is the man in the T1 category.
Shelley Gautier (CAN), the Netherlands’ Carmen Koedood and Italy’s Luisa Pasini are, on paper, the respective favourites for the women’s T1, H2 and H1 time trial golds, while the men’s H5 competition could well be an all-out confrontation between last year’s winner Tim de Vries (NED) and para-cycling legend Alessandro Zanardi (ITA).
All eyes will then turn to Jetze Plat (NED) who takes centre stage in the men H4 time trial. Plat won time trial gold in Corridonia and Ostend UCI World Cups, and has Paralympic gold to his name in both cycling and triathlon. In fact, just last weekend Plat put in his most dominant paratriathlon display ever en route to his fourth consecutive world para-triathlon title in Lausanne, Switzerland, beating the runner-up by over six minutes. He won’t have it all his own way in Emmen, of course, with Thomas Frühwirth (AUT) amongst the challengers.
Other contenders for time trial gold include: Austria’s Walter Ablinger (MH3), Italy’s Ana Maria Vitelaru (WH5), Spain’s Sergio Garrote (MH2), the Netherlands’ Jennette Jansen (WH4), Czech Republic’s Katerina Antosova (WH3) and, to finish the day, a battle royal between Italy’s Fabrizio Cornegliani and Belgium’s Maxime Hordies (MH1).
Road races: several athletes aiming for a second gold
The road races begin on Saturday, with the C and B categories first up. Vincent ter Schure and his pilot Timo Fransen will again be MB favourites over the 14-lap 7.4km course that unfolds around Meerdijk, the same location as for the 2017 and 2018 UCI World Cups.
The women’s tandem follows over 81.4km, with Ireland’s Katie-George Dunlevy favourite to retain her title.
Meanwhile, Brazil’s Lauro Chaman looks strong in the men’s C5 category. It’s also hard to look beyond powerhouse Sergei Pudov (RUS) in the men’s C4.
Paige Greco (AUS) and Germany’s Denise Schindler are the favourites in the women’s C3 category over the 51.8km course with Yvonne Marzinke (AUT) and Katie Toft (GBR) looking strong in C2 and C1, respectively. Five further road races (MC3, MC1, WC5 and WC4) take us up to end of play Saturday.
Sunday – the final day of competition – features the tricycle and handbike road races, starting with the 29.2km MT2 event. 2018 winner Ryan Boyle (USA) is out to defend his title with his compatriot Matthew Rodriguez a danger, while the women’s T2 category looks to be a two-way affair between Carol Cooke (AUS) and Jana Majunke (GER).
Gonzalo Garcia Abella (ESP) and Shelley Gautier (CAN) will be the ones to beat in the men’s and women’s T1 road races, while it’s hard to see beyond that man Jetze Plat winning the 66.6km H4 road race.
Czech para-cyclist Katerina Antosova leads the Women’s UCI Ranking so is the clear favourite. It’s a similar story for Carmen Koedood (NED) and Italy’s Luisa Pasini in the women’s H2 and H1 categories, respectively.
Over a 51.8km course, favourites include Italy’s Ana Maria Vitelaru (WH5), Jennette Jansen (WH4) and Sergio Garrote (MH2). The MH1 road race will see last year’s winner Fabrizio Cornegliani (ITA) battle this year’s star Maxime Hordies (BEL) and Walter Ablinger (AUT). The final event of the day – and, indeed, the competition – sees Alessandro Zanardi clash with Tim de Vries in the H5 category.