The race over 45 kilometres – three laps of
a flat course at Pontal. There was little to choose between the six-strong
field for much of this contest. Jennette Jansen, of the Netherlands, one of
those going well. The lead changed hands several times – the
pace moderate. All reluctant to get left behind, sensing that the medals would probably
be decided by a sprint finish. And that is how it turned out. Eskau made
a decisive break with under three kilometres to go, chased by the Dutch pair Jansen and
Laura de Vaan. Eskau couldn’t be caught and took the gold
medal with de Vaan winning the battle for silver and Jansen third. 15 seconds
separated the field. Oksana Masters of the USA just missing out on a medal.
It would be a successful day for German cyclists. Next the Women’s Road Race H1 to 4 category
over the same distance. 15 competitors. Jeon Mikyoung, of Korea, went
off quickly although the move backfired and she lost speed in the latter stages and
finished well down the field. Hand cycling can be precarious at times.
Karen Darke, of Great Britain, had won a gold medal in the time trial at these Games but
this would not be her day. The race turned into a four-way fight – the
question was who’d get the medals…. Christiane Reppe, of Germany, Korea’s Lee
Doyeon, Italian Francesca Porcellato and Alicia Dana, of the USA were battling it out.
It was Reppe who broke away near the end to claim the gold medal. Lee Doyeon was second
….Porcellato third. Reppe claiming her first Paralympic victory,
justifying her switch from swimming in which she competed in London 2012.
The two men’s events were both over 60 kilometres. A field of 12 cyclists for the H4 Road race.
This would be a keenly fought event and once again the outcome wasn’t decided until the
closing stages. Hand cycling a gruelling challenge and the
best competitors in the world were on the roads of Rio vying for Paralympic glory.
Poland’s Rafal Wilk, in red, held a narrow lead after two of the three laps.
A procession behind him ready to pounce. Notably Vico Merklein, of Germany, who was
never far away. After waiting patiently he took his chance
and was in front by the time the field entered the last turn, crossing the line to give
Germany their third gold medal of the day. Wilk came home second with Joel Jeannot, of
France, taking bronze ahead of team mate Mathieu Bosredon.
The Atlantic providing a beautiful backdrop for top class cycling. The H3 Road Race containing
a strong field. Four laps of the Pontal course.
A tough examination for these riders facing the serious business of trying to win medals.
Declan Slevin, of Ireland, providing a little light relief for his supporters.
Jean-Francois Deberg, of Belgium, led in the early stages.
It was hard, though, to predict a winner, even as the race reached its climax.
Italian Paolo Cecchetto went in front, anxious not to get stuck in the pack.
He was under severe pressure as the leaders headed for home.
But Cecchetto was defiant and could afford to celebrate his victory even before he crossed
the finishing line. Maximillian Weber of Germany took the silver
medal and Charles Moreau, of Canada, claimed the bronze.