Our small team of para-cyclists have punched about their weight and won another two gold medals on the final day of the Verola Cup event in Italy, writes Mark Etheridge.
Day one had seen Ernst van Dyk and George Rex take gold in their respective events, with rookie Craig Ridgard taking bronze on his first competitive international trip.
Once again it was Van Dyk and Rex who took gold in the time trial event while Ridgard opened the day’s racing with a seventh spot as the Italian weather played ball and the little towns of Verolavecchia, Cadignano, Bieda Libera and Verolanuova turning out to cheer the riders on.
Said team manager Mike Burns: “Craig, who was the first of the South Africans to set off, was extremely happy with his personal-best time trial average speed, which secured him a respectable seventh place.”
Then it was Boston Marathon winner and multiple Paralympian Van Dyk in the H5 division, pictured in action here.
Before the race he had expressed his happiness with conditions: “Time Trial today. After it was raining all night the sun is shining and the wind is calm. Good conditions to fly low!”
And that’s exactly what he did, powering his way to a comfortable win over Jetze Plat.
His comments afterwards: “Good effort in TT today. Won by around 25sec and looks like 40.7km/h ave speed. Real happy with my ave watts. All systems go for next week!”
Next week refers to the weekend’s opening UCI World Cup which opens on Friday.
Last off was Rex and, says Burns: “George ensured the best possible ending for the South African team by hauling in the riders he set out to chase, claiming his second gold medal of the event.”
But now the hard work starts and, after a five-hour trip across Italy the team are now based in La Principina, around 10km from the coastal town of Castigllione della Pescaia, venue for the World Cup.
The SA trio are now busy working out any excess lacits acid in the legs and arms ahead of the World Cup.
“Then we’ll aim to get to know the technicalities of the┬ároutes that have been planned for the event,” says Burns. “Although ostensibly relatively non-technical, the routes are certain to have a sting in their tails ” by demanding faster racing speeds and smart tactics.”
Burns, a professor when he’s not serving para-cycling summed up the weekend’s work thus: “If para-cycling was around in Isaac Newton’s day he would probably have formulated an equation something along the lines of the following: T x S = Pp [where T = technicality; S = speed; and Pp = para-cycling pain (a constant].”
Pictured here are Rex, Ridgard and team mechanic Reuben.
Picture of Van Dyk by Marco Bardella