By Mark Etheridge
Going into Sunday’s final competition day, the South African para-cycling team had already clinched an impressive haul of silverware at the UCI World Cup event in Castiglione della Pescaia in Italy.
The time trial event opened up the action and was staged over a flat, non-technical route through the Mediterranean coastal forest.
First to medal was T1 tricyclist George Rex who took bronze, adding to the medals he won at least week’s warm-up event, also in Italy.
Then it was the history-making Boston Marathon champion Ernst van Dyk who took silver in the H5 category behind 2012 Paralympic champion AlexZanardi, who has a holiday home in the town.
Said Van Dyk afterwards: “The TT course here was very similar to last weekend and if I had done my power and speeds from last weekend it would have been very close between me and Zanardi. Not a minute!”
South Africa’s golden moment came in the H1 category when Pieter du Preez had an outstanding ride.
On to the road race which threaded its way through the town’s narrow streets before heading out to the even narrower country roads through the olive groves and vineyards.
Stuart McCreadie was the first SA rider to test the route and lost touch with the lead group during the 65km route but still took a competitive seventh place.
Rex opted for lighter gears to get better acceleration out of the corners and the result was a silver medal! Paarl’s Yusthin Lintnaar took fourth in a sprint finish of the T2 category however the youngster was later disqualified due to an infringement.
But making up for that disappointment was Justine Asher’s gold in the H2 category and her awarding of the World Cup champion’s jersey for an outstanding overall performance.
Du Preez and Van Dyk wrapped up the day with two more medals. Du Preez got silver in his event while Van Dyk took bronze in a seven-way sprint
won by Zanardi. “I took the wrong line and could not get out to pick up speed,” was how Van Dyk summed up his road race.
Sunday’s final day had Craig Ridgard in the road race event and the programme was due to wrap up with the hand-cycle relay with the green and gold being represented by McCreadie, Asher and Van Dyk.