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Six medals in Canada
- Updated: July 14, 2011
Team South Africa scooped six medals in the first two days of the UCI Para-cycling World Cup in Baie-Comeau, Canada.
Paralympics great Ernst van Dyk won gold in a nail-biting sprint finish in the H4 road race in day two of the championships. This┬árace saw reigning World Champion Oscar Sanchez relegated to third place after he failed in his┬ábreak away bid against┬áVan Dyk and a Belgian rider on the first lap, blowing┬áout┬áin the process.
Van Dyk’s gold medal went nicely with the bronze that he won in the time trial on the first day
Other medals on day one went to Goldy Fuchs (bronze in the T2 time trial for men) and Madre Carinus, silver in the T2 time trial.
It was 19-year-old Fuchs’ first podium finish and well-deserved; his┬áphenomenal climbing skill gave him┬áa significant competitive advantage on the day, and just three seconds quicker┬áwould have earned him a silver medal. In the same race Gerhard Viljoen took fourth and Riaan Nel fifth.
Commenting after his bronze in the time trial Van Dyk felt that he had selected the wrong gear cluster for the conditions on the day. He found himself short of a gear on the circuit’s long climb and struggled for much of the race against┬áa strong wind. Both Van Dyk and Sanchez, found the circuit difficult because┬áthey┬áhave broad and heavy┬á(well-muscled) torsos, which┬áplaced them at a disadvantage over the slighter, smaller-profiled Belgian gold medallist who made easier going of the climb and head-wind.
The opening afternoon’s programme saw SA’s Janos Plekker (C4) finish in 10th place,┬áin the points (he had a good ride against significant international competition).┬á Jaco Nel (C2), suffering from a serious cold and┬áa hurting shoulder following his quite serious injury in the┬áWorld┬áCup held earlier this year in Sydney, Australia, struggled in his time trial, finishing 13th.
Apart from Van Dyk’s gold, on day two which saw rainy conditions,┬áSouth Africa’s T2 men finished┬ásecond (Fuchs), third (Viljoen) and fourth (Nel) in the road race.┬áFuchs and the┬áGerman rider broke away early during the race and┬áworked together until the final kilometre when the┬ásprint finish┬ájust squeezed the South African into second place.┬áViljoen and Nel were not far behind and effectively closed out any opportunity for the other riders to get into medal contention.
The third day of the World Cup saw C4 rider┬á Plekker participate in the road race event. The gruelling road race circuit included a killer of a climb (long and steep) which gives huge advantage to climbing specialists and disadvantages almost everyone else; i.e. the other easier sections of the circuit provide little opportunity for riders to make up time lost on the climb.
Riding in an extremely competitive C4 class, Plekker achieved the target set for him, which was to finish in 10th place, earning points for team South Africa. South Africa’s Jaco Nel, who has won two silver and one bronze medals in previous UCI events in 2011 unfortunately had to withdraw from the road race due to bronchitis.
Apart from earning medals at this event, there were World Cup leader’s jerseys at stake. Athletes from 27 countries travelled to Baie-Comeau in the hope of securing one or more of the titles at stake and gaining as many UCI points as possible with a view to qualification for the 2012 London Olympic Games.┬á It will also be the last occasion for para-cyclists to confront each other before the World Championships in the Danish city of Roskilde (September 8th to 11th).