Strong performances from Kiwi Para cyclists in Ostend World Cup
New Zealand Para cyclists have travelled from the other side of the world to hold their own at the Ostend 2022 UCI Para Cycling Road World Cup. For most of the team, this is their first international road cycling competition since the Netherlands UCI Para Cycling Road World Championships in January 2019, making their strong performances even more remarkable.
The 6 Kiwi competitors come away with top 10 finishes across the board, and 2 silver medals for tricycle rider Eltje Malzbender. Paralympian #220 Eltje, who lives with a traumatic brain injury after a hit and run, competes in the T1 class. T1 riders have affected coordination. They use a tricycle to maintain balance. She won silver medals in both her races: the Time Trial and the Road Race.
Coach Damian Wiseman is pleased with the team:
“We’ve seen some awesome performances this weekend. This is the first time they are lining up against an international field of their peers in a very long time, and all the Para cyclists showed a superb attitude. No matter what happened, there was a commitment to racing the race right to the finish.”
Eltje’s Tokyo 2020 teammates Sarah Ellington and Nicole Murray also come away with strong results, achieving a 5th and 6th place for Sarah, and a 4th and 6th place for Nicole in the Time Trial and the Road Race respectively.
Wiseman is encouraged by the performances of the Paralympians, saying of Nicole:
“That was the best Time Trial she’s ever done. In the Road Race too, she has really stepped it up a notch. She’s not just keeping up; she’s taking the race to the competition.”
He was also impressed by Sarah’s determination through to the finish:
“Sarah had strong rides in both her Time Trial and Road Race. Blistering attacks split the field in the first lap of the Road Race, so Sarah rode solo chasing her competitors for most of her 61km road race.”
Like Eltje Malzbender, Stevo Hills rides a tricycle. He had a brilliant World Cup, especially in the Road Race, where he pushed hard right through to the end. Stevo finished 7th in both the Time Trial and the Road Race.
Fraser Sharp dedicated his performance to his dad, who was enormously supportive of Fraser’s bike racing and who passed away last week. Fraser narrowly missed the podium with his 4th place finish in the Time Trial and followed it up with a 10th place finish in the Road Race.
Tandem pair Hannah Pascoe, who is visually impaired, and pilot Laura Thompson were a last-minute addition to the Kiwi contingent in Ostend. They made the decision to travel to Ostend following an excellent performance in Para Cycling Road National Championships in Hokitika. Hannah and Laura received Happy Mother’s Day phone calls from New Zealand as they lined up to start their Road Race on Sunday.
This was Hannah’s first international road cycling competition, and it was a baptism by fire. She was thrilled to have her first experience lining up with a field of 19 of her peers on tandems for the race, and gave it a really gutsy ride, taking real pleasure in how hard it was. The pair are pleased with their 8th place finish in the Time Trial and 11th place finish in the Road Race.
The Ostend World Cup is followed immediately by the second of three Para Cycling World Cups in Elzach, Germany (12-15 May). The courses in Elzach offer the New Zealanders different opportunities to shine, with more hills involved.
Coach Damian Wiseman explains:
“We’ll be taking some things we can work on from this weekend into Elzach. The Elzach Time Trial is a point-to-point uphill. We’ll shift our focus and race tactics to make the most of the terrain in Elzach. We’ll make use of the hills, make them a positive for us. Our Para athletes will receive those hills positively.”
Updates on team’s performance at the Elzach 2022 UCI Para Cycling Road World Cup will be shared on Paralympics New Zealand’s social media channels (links above).
Ostend UCI Para Cycling Road World Cup Results
|Sarah Ellington||C2||Loss of muscle power / Incomplete spinal cord injury||Women’s C2 Time Trial||5th|
|Stevo Hills||T2||Neurological / Right Side Hemiplegic||Men’s T2 Time Trial||7th|
|Eltje Malzbender||T1||Traumatic Brain Injury/Ataxia||Women’s T1 Time Trial||Silver|
|Nicole Murray||C5||Limb deficiency / left wrist amputee||Women’s C5 Time Trial||4th|
|Hannah Pascoe||B/VI||Visual impairment||Women’s B Time Trial||8th|
|Fraser Sharp||C3||Ataxia / Neurological||Men’s C3 Time Trial||4th|
|Sarah Ellington||C2||Loss of muscle power / Incomplete spinal cord injury||Women’s C2 Road Race||6th|
|Stevo Hills||T2||Neurological / Right Side Hemiplegic||Men’s T2 Road Race||7th|
|Eltje Malzbender||T1||Traumatic Brain Injury/Ataxia||Women’s T1 Road Race||Silver|
|Nicole Murray||C5||Limb deficiency / left wrist amputee||Women’s C5 Road Race||6th|
|Hannah Pascoe||B/VI||Visual impairment||Women’s B Road Race||11th|
|Fraser Sharp||C3||Ataxia / Neurological||Men’s C3 Road Race||10th|
About classification in Para cycling
- Classification groups Para cyclists with an eligible impairment into sports classes, according to how much their impairment affects their ability to carry out the fundamental activities in their sport.
- Para athletes who are able to use a standard bicycle (with approved adaptations) compete in the five sport classes C1-5, Sport class C1 is allocated to athletes with the most severe activity limitation, while the sport class C5 is allocated to athletes with minimum impairments. The C1-5 sport classes include athletes with limb deficiency, impaired muscle power or range of motion and impairments affecting co-ordination, such as uncoordinated movements and involuntary movements.
- Para cyclists who have a visual impairment race on a tandem bicycle with a sighted cyclist (pilot) at the front. They cycle in the sports class B. This class will include athletes with a range of visual impairment from a low visual acuity (less than 6/60) and/or a visual field of less than 20 degrees through to athletes with no vision.
- Para athletes who ride a tricycle are unable to ride a bicycle safely due to impairment affecting their balance and coordination. They are divided into two classes, T1 and T2. The sport class T1 is allocated to athletes with more significant balance and co-ordination impairments and problems controlling movements than athletes competing in sport class T2.
- There are five different sport classes for handcycle racing. The lower numbers indicate a more severe activity limitation. Para athletes competing in the H1 classes have a complete loss of trunk and leg function and limited arm function, e.g. as a result of a spinal cord injury. Para athletes in the H4 class have limited or no leg function, but good trunk and arm function. Para cyclists in sport classes H1 – 4 compete in a reclined position. Para cyclists in the H5 sport class sit on their knees because they are able to use their arms and trunk to accelerate the handcycle. Para athletes in this sport class might have leg amputations, paraplegia or mild to moderate involuntary and uncoordinated movements.