Info of the CI website, photo’s of Paralympic Ireland & CI (or otherwise indicated)
MEDAL MACHINES Katie-George Dunlevy and Eve McCrystal have made history this morning in Japan as they won their second gold medal. The tandem dream team set out on the 92.4km hilly circuit around the Fuji International Speedway. From the outset, torrential rain, played havoc with the race but the real phenomenon was the power output from the Irish tandem pair. Their ride saw them dominate with the sort of control over their opponents that may have tricked the casual onlooker to believe that this was a foregone conclusion. But it wasn’t, crashes sheet rain made this event a lottery but McCrystal in the position of pilot guided the bike home.
Their breakaway companions were Swedish riders Louise Jannering and her pilot Anna Svaerdstroem and British team Sophie Unwin and her pilot Jenny Holl. Those two tandem teams are well known for their sprint capacity so it was imperative that the Irish pairing used a tactical solution. It was the final climb to the finish that Katie-George and Eve launched their attack – it was a devastating display of power riding in the saddle. They immediately vanquished their opposition and they rode into the finish triumphant.
RICHAEL TIMOTHY has spoken of her joy having competed in her first Paralympics Game saying it has given her a sense of purpose. Richael finished in eleventh in a hard-fought road race in pouring rain at the Fuji International Speedway on the last day of the cycling competition at Tokyo 2020. Such was the toughness of the event that the race had shattered into pieces early on as the weather conditions took hold. The gold was taken by Keiko Sugiura of Japan, with Anna Beck of Sweden in silver and Paige Greco in bronze. Richael battled on – the climbs sucking the power from her legs. The Roscommon woman is now focusing on the next step already and the Paris games in three years. “Paris was my goal at the start, not really Tokyo. I’ll take a few weeks off and then I’ll go back at – I want to get better!”
“I did my best at these games, but I feel my best is better. I’ve learned so much from the girls. I have an amazing team who are clearly the best in the world at winning medals Just to continue to be surrounded by these people,” she added.
GARY O’ REILLY lined out less than 24 hours after his bronze medal performance in the H5 Time Trial the day before. Such was the extreme conditions for today’s race that out on the rolling course, the descents repeatedly overheated his brake blocks – causing him to fix them on the go. The 79.2km route on the Fuji International Speedway saw the riders climb multiple ascents on six laps of a loop of 13.2kms. The average speed throughout was in excess of 33 kilometers per hour as repeated attacks went clear but yet were pulled back again and again. The race stayed together for the first two laps as tactical positioning came into play. Gary stayed safely in the wheels as an attack by USA rider Alfredo del Los Santos and Portuguese rider Luis Costa went clear. They worked well together but as the bunch pulled back closer, Costa drove on hard chased by Dutch teammates Mitch Valize and Tim de Vries. Gary confidently responded to all those accelerations. Costa made repeated failed efforts to get away but it was the climb back up to the start/finish straight for the last time that French rider Luc Vergnaud launched a massive attack. He rode clear and appeared certain to take the gold but the Dutch team had other ideas and in a devastatingly powerful display, Valize closed the distance and with just a handful of meters overhauled the French man to take the win. His Dutch teammate Tim de Vries came in 3rd with Gary launching a sprint from the chasing bunch to take a hard-earned fourth-place finishing in a time of 2:24.57 – just 17 seconds behind the winner.
RONAN GRIMES’ road race was a tale of good bike handling and a solo ride to the finish. The Athenry man had come off the track events with an impressive fourth place so he took to the road circuit with some hopes. The weather had closed in on the Fuji International Speedway with banks of sheet rain filling the skies above the famous raceway. At the death, the French rider Kevin Le Cunff, launching a huge attack with 2km to go from Ukrainian Yehor Dementyev sealed the gold. Dementyev took silver and Dutch rider Daniel Abraham Gebru followed with bronze. Ronan Grimes finished in 11th place after almost two and a half hours of racing. Ronan said: “After the first lap, there were 11 of us left. It was hell for leather out there, then starting the second lap I slid out on one of the corners and I kept the bike upright, then there was a crash coming down under the bridge my bike jack-knifed and I slid up against the wall, when I came out from underneath the bridge I couldn’t get back on and I was out there for two hours by myself. It was a long day, but it was an honor to do it”
MARTIN GORDON and EAMONN BYRNE have concluded their Paralympic Games and said that the experience has left them with great memories. Martin and Eamonn didn’t make it to the finish today in the B Men’s Tandem road race – the horrendous torrential rainfall made the going almost impossible. Afterward, they spoke to Cycling Ireland about the wonderful experience and the great atmosphere inside the Irish camp. Their race was won by Dutch tandem crew Vincent Schure and pilot Timo Fransen who competed with such a dominant display that they stopped on the finish line and had time to pose for photographs before crossing it.
Martin said: “It’s been an incredible experience, the whole summer culminating in that we delivered on the track – when it came down to it is has been just an amazing experience. “To get here, compete and deliver means I am going back with a lot of memories and absolutely no regrets,” he said. Eamonn, the pilot on the tandem, echoed Martin’s comments and said that the difference this time was in how they performed. “You think about it this is not our first major competition, we have been to many major events five worlds since 2017 and often we haven’t performed. We absolutely nailed it this time, at the right time and it has been a great feeling, I don’t have a single what-if or niggle walking away from it. That is not often to say as an athlete – I’m just really happy,” he said. Martin and Eamonn paid tribute to the backroom staff who have helped them throughout their training and racing. “We have had such a great lead into this competition, such a great period of competition, such an amount of traction, as people may or may not know at home, we don’t have a velodrome at home and we are track specialists without a velodrome so we always have to travel and the amount of time we got on the track this time around compared to a World Championships was the major difference for us, being on the track day in day out has definitely been the difference. If we had a track at home, God knows how many riders, between para and able-bodied we would produce,” he said!!