The 2019 UCI Para-Cycling Road World Cup begins in Italy, on 9-12 May, in what will be a particularly competitive season with Paralympic qualification points at stake. The action comes thick and fast with the second round in Ostend, Belgium, 16-19 May, followed by a three-month break before the final event in Baie-Comeau, Canada, 8-11 August.
The opening round is in Corridonia, a stunning municipality in the Italian region of Marche, 40km south of Ancona and 8km south-east of Macerata.
Following the end of the track season with the UCI Para-cycling Track World Championships in March, the athletes now head outdoors. The World Cup events include time trials and road races for all sports classes, and competition will get under way in Corridonia with the men’s H4 (handbike) time trials. This sport class is for paraplegics with impairment from T11 down and amputees unable to kneel. Time trials occupy the first two days of competition, culminating in the men’s H5 class on the evening of 10 May. This sport class is for athletes who can kneel on a handbike and includes paraplegics and amputees.
Depending on the sport class, athletes cover two or three laps of the 9.1km time trial course: each event starts on Viale Italia and finishes in the centre of Corridonia. Wide, perfect roads will ensure incredibly fast performances despite testing stretches of 5% ascents.
Who should you look out for in that first round? In the opening men’s H4 racing it’s hard to look beyond Jetze Plat. The Dutch athlete stormed to victory at last year’s UCI World Cup in Ostend, beating American Thomas Davis by nearly 50 seconds. Plat is a true all-rounder. At the Rio 2016 Summer Paralympics, the then 25-year-old won a bronze medal in the men’s road race as well as gold in the PT1 class at paratriathlon.
Other time trial highlights include Paolo Cecchetto, who’ll look to claim MH3 category gold on home soil, after winning the Belgian World Cup round in 2018. Also look out for the American Alicia Dana, who won the WH3 category in Ostende.
The road races take place on Saturday and Sunday. The circuit in Corridonia features similar characteristics to that of the time trial, so the riders must once again plan for those 5% climbs. Distances range from four laps (36.4km) for the MH1 on Saturday morning through to 11 laps (100.1km) for Sunday afternoon’s MB (tandem) athletes.
In what’s sure to be a memorable two days of road racing, there are plenty of opportunities for highlights. At last year’s World Cup in Ostend, Australia’s Darren Hicks produced an outstanding effort in the C2 class to push Russia’s Arslan Gilmutdinov and Canada’s Tristen Chernove into second and third, respectively. Hicks will be the man to beat in Corridonia.
Look for Belgium’s Kris Bosmans, who competes in the C3 category. The 29-year-old was in sublime form in holding off Italy’s Fabio Anobile and Steffen Warias, respectively, to win the 2018 World Cup in Ostend. Bosmans’ story is one that’ll resonate and empower many para-cyclists. In 1998, he suffered a stroke and after two years of recovery he was left with permanent damage to his right leg, left foot and left hand. In 2008 he watched a documentary about the para-cyclist Jan Boyen, who won a bronze medal at that summer’s Paralympics, and it inspired Bosmans to give the sport a go… the rest is history.
On the women’s side, is the athlete to beat in the WT2 category. American Walsh held off Australia’s Carol Cooke in a stunning finish at the 2018 Ostend World Cup and will look to show similar form in this, pre-Olympic year.
And it’s Tokyo 2020 that’ll make 2019 such a fantastic year for para-cycling. For the Paralympic Games, ranking is based on accumulated events from 2018, 2019 and 2020, including results at the UCI World Cups and UCI World Championships.
Another 2019 highlight is the staging of para-cycling races the day before the UCI Road World Championships in Yorkshire, England, on Saturday 21 September. These will give the discipline magnificent visibility and will attract the world’s best para-cyclists, coming one week after the UCI Para-cycling Road World Championships in Emmen the Netherlands.
But, for now, all eyes are on Corridonia and round one of this year’s UCI Para-cycling Road World Cup.
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