Three races, three golds. Luca Mazzone dominated the fifth and final day of the UCI 2021 Para-Cycling Road World Championships at the motor-racing circuit of Circuito Estoril in Cascais, Portugal. The Italian racked up his third gold of the competition, winning the MH2 50.4km road race in 1:29:04. Spain’s Sergio Garrote Munoz pushed Mazzone all the way, but ultimately fell short, by 4 seconds. France’s Florian Jouanny claimed bronze.
Mazzone drew on all his years of experience to make it a hat-trick of wins after first securing the handbike relay victory with the Italian team on the opening day of the championships before time-trialling his way to another success on Friday.
Mazzone, who won two silver Paralympic medals at the 2000 Sydney Games, once revealed the reasoning behind his success, which held him in good stead today under immense pressure from Garrote Munoz. “A fundamental quality of these two sports (swimming and cycling) is to endure mental fatigue. I would say this is the secret to getting to the top in both swimming and in handbiking.”
Mazzone’s trio of victories for once overshadowed another star of the sport, but didn’t diminish his achievements as Dutch athlete Jetze Plat won his second gold medal of the competition and cemented his glowing status in the history of para-cycling. The star of cycling, triathlon and Ironman racing knows no limits.
On day three, the 30-year-old won time trial gold. Come the final day, Sunday 13 June, Plat made it two out of two by triumphing in the MH4 67.2km road race. Over eight laps, he turned the screw on his opposition, taking the win in 1:37:48. In a facsimile of Friday’s time trial, Austria’s Thomas Fruhwirth won silver in 1:38:16. Switzerland’s Fabian Recher swept up bronze in 1:41:32.
Plat’s eighth world title in handcycling proved prophetic. Confidence boosted by his time trial victory, Plat predicted the success to come…
Plat wasn’t the only athlete celebrating double delight in Portugal. Italy’s Simona Canipara followed up her time trial success on Friday with road race gold, completing three laps of the 8.4km course in 1:46:23. Then compatriot Roberta Amadeo enjoyed similar success, adding road race gold in the WH2 category to her time trial triumph.
But it wasn’t all about the Azzurri as the Dutch fought race by race, with Chantal Haenen and Jennette Jansen adding to their time-trial titles by securing gold medals in the WH5 and WH4 road race, respectively.
Canada’s Shelley Gautier carried over the form that saw her win time trial gold into the WT1 road race by riding to gold in 1:05:27. RPC’s Yulia Sibagatova took silver in 1:08:11. Can 52-year-old Gautier add to her 2016 bronze medal at this year’s Tokyo Paralympics? Time will tell…
Italy’s Giorgio Farroni also delivered double glory, winning the MT1 25.2km road race in 49:30mins. Spain’s Gonzalo Garcia Abella won silver in 53:13 with the Czech Republic’s Petr Berger adding bronze to her trophy cabinet. Belgium’s Tim Celen edged out Colombia’s Juan Jose Betancourt Quiroga by the thinnest of margins in the MT2 road race with both athletes recording 1:01:12. A photo finish settled it. Spain’s Joan Reinoso Figuerola claimed bronze just 2s back. While the Italians and Belgians celebrated, the Spanish team were understandably happy by loading two more medals to the tally.
Elsewhere, Jana Majunke won gold in the 33.6km WT2 road race by a whisker, holding off America’s Jill Walsh in silver. Germany’s Angelika Dreock-Kaser took bronze. Germany’s Annikah Zeyen won the WH3 58.8km road race in 1:50:56, again an incredibly close battle as she inched ahead of Italy’s Francesca Porcellato at the finish line. Poland’s Renata Kaluza won bronze. And chapeau to Nicolas Pieter Du Preez, who won South Africa’s first gold of the championships in the MH1 road race. On a day of close contests, the first tetraplegic ever to finish an Ironman dug deep to hold off Italy’s Fabrizio Cornegliani by millimetres. Belgium’s Maxime Hordies finished third.
The 2021 UCI Para-cycling Road World Championships reached its finale and what a finale as The Netherlands’ Mitch Valize won his second gold with victory in the MH5 road race. Valize held off France’s Loic Vergnaud, both registering a time of 1:46:26. Valize’s team-mate Tim De Vries won bronze.
The final gold medal of the five-day event went to Riadh Tasmim in the MH3 category. The French athlete won by the smallest of fractions over Germany’s Vico Merklein (silver) and Luis Miguel Garciia-Marquina Cascallana (bronze). It was a nail-biting end to the competition in Cascais – the top five riders all finished in 1:48:29.
And so the curtain draws on a championships that will live long in the memory, a competition that had extra meaning after the Covid pandemic that’s affected every corner of the planet. Now, the victors and their opposition will divert their gaze to Tokyo for the 16th Summer Paralympic Games, which start in Tokyo on 24 August 2021.
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