Later today, the second World Cup of the para-cycling season is officially set to start racing in Segovia, Spain. The event got underway on Tuesday with classification, with accreditation, classification and registration starting on Wednesday. Those things continued yesterday, along with the commissaires meeting, adaption check, a team managers meeting, and a confirmation of who would be starting.
The time trial is the first event on the racing schedule, and it is scheduled to start at 1:00 PM local time in Spain. The course is 22 km long, with the vision impaired men and women, men C1 – C5, women C4 and C5, and men’s handcycling H4 and H5 competing in it.
Following a break, the C2 and C3 women, H4 and H5 women,H3 men, H2 men, H2 and H3 women, H1 men, T2 men, T2 women, T1 men, T1 women are scheduled to start their time trial event at 5:30 PM local time on an 11 km long course.
The United States team arrived several days ago to train and practice on the course in advance of the competition. They have sent a rather large team including vision impaired cyclist Shawn Cheshire and pilot Mackenzie Woodring, and Clark Rachfal and pilot Dave Swanson. It also includes hand cyclists WH2 Alicia Dana, MH1 Will Groulx, MH2 William Lachenauer, MH4 Tom Davis, and MH5 Dan Cnossen. The team has only one tricyclist MT2 Steven Peace. Other cyclists on the team include WC5 Greta Neimanas, WC2 Allison Jones, WC5 Samantha Heinrich, WC4 Shawn Morelli, WC3 Jamie Whitmore, MC1 Todd Key, MC4 Jonathan Copsey, MC2 William Lister and MC5 Mark Gyulafia.
On the domestic side, Spain has a 13 member strong which includes Ignacio Avila Rodriguez, Carlos Gonzalez Garcia, Juan Jose Mendez Fernandez, Maurice Eckhard Tio, Antonio Garcia Martinez, Eduardo Santas Asensio, Roberto Alcaide Garcia, Cesar Neira Perez, Jose Diego Jara Vidal, Martin Berchesi Manzione, Aitor Oroza Flores, Josefa Benitez Guzman, and Raquel Acinas Poncelas. Several of these competitors were members of Spain’s 2012 Summer Paralympic Team.
Raquel Poncelas and Maurice Eckhard are considered to be amongst the favorites on the side, and both have told to the IPC that they are hoping to pick up medals at the home hosted competition. Poncelas picked up a gold medal in the women’s C2 race at the the first World Cup event of the season that happened in May in Italy. Eckhard, a Paralympic bronze medalist, has been able to focus more on the sport because of scholarships he has recieved from the Spanish government.
Beyond the official Spanish side, a number of local Spanish cyclist have registered to compete as independents. There 45 total registered Spanish competitors. They include Ione Basterra Olaguenaga, Eva Maria Moral Pedrero, and Ruben Capdevila Miravet with guide Pedro Jos Vera Alcaraz. The field in some classifications it not very deep, so top five finishes for some of these competitors does not seem entirely inconceivable.
Great Britain has sent a team of eleven cyclist including vision impaired cyclists Lora Turnham and pilot Corrine Hall, and Steve Bate and pilot Adam Duggleby, hand cyclist Karen Darke and Brian Alldis, tricyclist David Stone, and cyclists Rik Wadden, Shaun McKeown, Jon Gildea and Simon Price. Turnham and Hall are world championships in the time trial event and enter as heavy favorites. David Stone is a Paralympic medalist, and is considered as a potential medal winner for the British side.
British national team coach Paul Dring was quoted by British Cycling before the event as saying, “As the second and final world cup of the season it is important to collect as many qualification points as we can for Rio 2016. The event is also an important part of our preparation for the world championships in Greenville, USA, which take place at the end of August. The squad includes some experienced members of the team, but also some exciting development riders, and with selection for the world championships taking place shortly afterwards, everyone is looking to take advantage of this final opportunity to try and secure a place on the plane.”
The Segovia race is important for cyclist as it enables them to earn points to qualify for the 2016 Summer Paralympics in Rio.