Two gold and one bronze for Irish para-cyclists at Para-Cycling Road World Cup
It was a day of celebration for the para-cycling team on Friday, July 15th, as they took home two gold medals and a bronze medal at the Para-Cycling Road World Cup in the Basque Country, Spain.
First up in the Men’s C2 category saw Colin Lynch finish well to secure a gold medal to get the winning underway for the Irish squad. Meanwhile, Irish tandem duo Katie-George Dunlevy and Eve McCrystal also rode home to gold in the Women’s B tandem, while hand-cyclist Ciara Staunton took bronze in the WH2 event in one of her best performances to date.
Elsewhere, Eoghan Clifford finished in sixth in his event, male tandem duo Damien Vereker and Seán Hahessy secured a top ten spot, while Westmeath’s Declan Slevin secured a 14th place finish.
Speaking about the results so far, Irish para-cycling coach, Neill Delahaye stated: "Today was a very positive day for the team. The time trial is one of our main target events in Rio for all bikes and we saw today everyone more or less where they should be. Colin, Katie-George and Eve excelled in their races to win gold. The course was flat with 10 corners in a seven kilometre circuit, which made it quite technical. Both winners delivered on the strategy we discussed and it worked out.
“Our handcyclists both stepped up their performances significantly on previous outings at this level. Declan and Ciara have taken minutes off the gap between them and their category leaders. Ciara was in a close fight for silver and only just lost out but does retain the World Cup Leader’s jersey, which is a huge achievement. We are only finding out what Declan can do and he has much more to give and is making very good progress."
“The male tandem pairing of Damien Vereker and Seán Hahessy fought hard today and to secure a Top 10 was impressive under the circumstances. Seán had a very difficult run into this event, but it was great to see them both dig in as they did to get the result. Meanwhile, Eoghan had some teething difficulties with a new bike which impacted his race. We learned a lot today and it has been an important development and refinement of our strategies for Rio."
Racing continued today (Saturday, July 16th) with Ciara Staunton finishing the road race third in her category and Declan Slevin coming tenth in his race.
“This course is extremely challenging for handcyclists,” Delahaye reflected. “It is essentially a 3.5km climb with a 3km descent and a 1km flat. The heat factor is significant for the riders, with everyone struggling. Ciara did very well and worked very hard to finish where she did.
“Declan’s result today was a very strong result in a field of that size and quality, especially considering the heat and the terrain. He was determined to better his time trial result and really worked to get the top 10 – a very good performance.”