Ireland’s top handcyclist, Mark Rohan, came agonisingly close to winning a second bronze medal in what has been one of Ireland’s most successful Paracycling Road World Championships. Rohan’s race started fast, with the Paralympic Champion staying in the main group for most of the day, behind eventual winner and defending World Champion Luca Mazzone of Italy. On the line USA’s William Groulx took silver, with Tobias Fankhauser (SUI) edging ahead of Rohan, taking the bronze medal.
Rohan, who won bronze in the Time Trial on Saturday, closed the Irish campaign at the World Championships with fourth place, in a weekend that saw Eoghan Clifford shine in the Men’s C3 category, winning two world titles, and the tandem pairing of Katie-George Dunlevy and Eve McCrystal winning silver in the Women’s B Road Race. The Championships ran from Friday 28th August until Monday the 1st September.
The Men’s H2 race started aggressively, with the defending World Champion, Mazzone, establishing a lead with Groulx. Following a brief chase in pursuit of the break, Rohan rode a smart race, settling into a group a short distance back. Mazzone pushed up the pace at the halfway mark, pulling away from the American rider. As the riders approached the line Mazzone had a clear lead, with Groulx taking silver, leaving a select group including Rohan and Fankhauser fighting for bronze. A disappointed Rohan had to settle for fourth place at the finish.
Speaking after the road race, Coach Neill Delahaye said “I’m disappointed for Mark with fourth. He rode smart, and looked strong throughout. We were sure his sprint would bring him over the line in bronze, but it didn’t happen on the day.”
This has been a phenomenal Championship for Ireland, with Eoghan Clifford sensationally winning two gold medals in his Paracycling World Championship debut, the women’s tandem winning silver, narrowly behind the GB World Champions, and Mark Rohan winning silver in the Men’s H2 time trial.
Delahaye is thrilled with the performances of the Irish team, “To get four medals at the Worlds is brilliant. It’s particularly special to get it on the road, where there are so many uncontrollables, like punctures and mechanicals. It means when it all comes together like this and you get results like this, you get a real pleasure out of it. Next up for the riders is a good recovery phase, they have had a long year, especially the riders who also raced on the track, and for us it is about planning for the next two years to Rio. We need to build and to keep this momentum going. The atmosphere on this team is very good and positive. Everyone is encouraging and it’s a great mix between new blood and experience, with all riders still performing really well. With this kind of atmosphere everyone works hard, they have the motivation to put in the miles, and then the results follow.”