Next week the Irish Para-cycling Team will be competing in the UCI 2017 Para-cycling Road World Championships in Pietermartizburg, South Africa. The event will run from the 31st August to the 3rd September, with thirteen Irish cyclists competing across twenty-one championship events. This is the largest Irish team to compete in a World Championships in recent years, with qualification based on superb results from the Irish team throughout the 2016 season.
Following a formidable showing at the Paralympic Games in Rio, the Irish Para-cycling Team switched their focus to the 2017 road season, with their sights set on the World Championships in South Africa. The team represents a mix of experienced, accomplished riders and new development names, with the majority of the 2016 Paralympian’s named on the World Championship team.
Speaking ahead of the World Championships Cycling Ireland Performance Coach Neill Delahaye is satisfied with the progress of the team, with the women’s tandem becoming World Cup overall winners this season, and Colin Lynch being dominant in the Time Trials. Delahaye is looking forward to the start of the competition:
“We are hoping to build on the World Cup season where everyone performed well. Everyone is enjoying racing again after Rio. Of course, the World Championships will be a bigger a stage, where all the nations are keen to get performances. We are excited to be racing again at this level, and hope they can do as well in the World Cups.”
Delahaye noted that the hillier terrain in Pietermaritzburg adds an unknown element for the team: “The Time Trial course will present a different challenge to the World Cups, it is more technical and hilly, and it will bring something different to the table. All the Time Trials at the World Cups were pan flat. It will be a more sporting course.”
The team will see three new names on the Irish team with Ronan Grimes (MC4), Seamus Wall (MH3) and Andrew Nicholson (MC4) also competing, and for the first time Ireland will be competing in the Handcycling Relay event:
“This is a post games year, so we are delighted to have three development riders competing, and getting an opportunity to race in the World Championships. While we have an established group, we are always building for the future, and delighted to give them the opportunity.”
At the Paralympic Games in Rio, the Irish Para-cycling team achieved phenomenal results with five medals, including two Paralympic Time Trial Titles, courtesy of Eoghan Clifford and the tandem pairing of Katie-George Dunlevy and Eve McCrystal. Colin Lynch won a silver medal in the MC2 Time Trial in Rio; Dunlevy and McCrystal took silver in the Rio Road Race, and Clifford was the bronze medallist in the MC3 Individual Pursuit.
The Para-cycling Road World Championships runs from the 31st August – 3rd September, with Irish riders competing on each day. The first riders in competition will be Declan Slevin, Ciara Staunton and Seamus Wall in the Handcycling Time Trials.