The South African Para-cycling team has departed from Italy, having performed very well in the UCI Para-Cycling Road World Cup (7-9 June), hosted by the city of Merano.
The team’s proud medallists include Roxy Burns, who won bronze in her road race event. C4 rider Burns, who had hoped to medal in her time trial, saw this possibility evaporate as she fell twice whilst taking difficult corners on the technically complex racing circuit.
Hand-cyclist Justine Asher- one of the three SA riders competing internationally for the first time, was an unfortunate victim of inclement conditions when, during the relay event, the related failure of her brakes and a wet road caused her to crash, resulting in bone fractures in both of her legs.
This is extremely unfortunate since Asher proved her potential as a world-class hand-cyclist in both the time trial and road race events that preceded the relay. At the time of the accident the SA team of Asher, Ernst van Dyk and Stuart McCreadie were positioned 4th and could have clawed their way up to achieve a podium finish.
Asher will hopefully recover to be able to compete in the World Championships to be hosted by Canada later in the year, where she too has the athletic talent to claim one or more medals. Additionally, she has the potential to enable the SA hand-cycle relay team to claim a World Championship medal for this prestigious event.
The routes selected for both the time trial and road race in Merano were typically Italian, featuring narrow roads, cobblestones and awkward cambers on sharp corners placed the team at a considerable disadvantage relative to their European continental competitors.
The SA participants adapted well however, and the week of training and racing experience in Italy will stand them in good stead for this weekend’s Spanish World Cup.
Merano’s weather, although mostly warm and sunny, added complexity to the racing conditions during the World Cup, particularly on Day 3 when heavy rain made for treacherous riding.
The SA Para-cycling team have spent this week preparing for the UCI Spanish World Cup (14-16 June). The team will be extremely happy if they can double their Italian World Cup medal tally and have set their sights on achieving this aim.
(With editing by gsport)