At the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games, Australian Carol Cooke performed a clean sweep of the road cycling golds in the women’s T1-T2 category, whilst Sarah Storey won her 14th Paralympic gold to become Great Britain’s most decorated female Paralympian.
The Dutch tandem Vincent Ter Shure and pilot Timo Fransen also left their mark in Rio on both the track cycling and road cycling events, winning one gold and two silvers.
One month later, Ireland’s Colin Lynch rewrote the history book by achieving a mark of 43.133km to set the first UCI Hour Record (C2) for Para cycling under the new Regulations at the National Cycling Centre in Manchester, Great Britain.
These stand-out cycling performances enter at No. 30 in the International Paralympic Committee’s (IPC) Top 50 Moments.
Cooke won the time trial on 14 September with a blistering performance and, two days later, she took her second Paralympic title in the road race. The Canadian-born champion decided to dedicate her stunning performances to the memory of her father who passed away this year.
“I think crossing the line was sheer relief that the plan worked,” said Cooke. “It was relief and sheer joy like ‘Wow I have got two golds!”
Another cyclist who shined in Rio was Storey, who became Great Britain’s most decorated female Paralympian ever with a hat-trick of titles in the women’s road race C4-5 and road time trial C5, and the women’s 3000m individual pursuit C5 on the track.
The 35-year-old former swimmer took her overall golden tally to 14, overtaking wheelchair racer Tanni Grey-Thompson. She is now two Paralympic titles away from the most successful British Paralympian ever, swimmer Mike Kenny.
“It is great to win another gold, they are all really special and I am just really proud and chuffed with how these Games have turned out," said Storey, who sealed 14 golds, eight silvers and three bronzes over seven Paralympic Games.
The Netherlands’ tandem Ter Shure and pilot Fransen also stood out at Latin America’s first Paralympic Games. After a silver medal in the pursuit at the Barra Olympic Park velodrome, the duo sealed another silver medal on the road, in the time trial.
But the highlight came in their final race, the mass-start road race, where the Dutchmen went one better to claim their first ever Paralympic title.
This year’s cycling highlights were not limited to the Rio Games, though.
In October, Lynch set the first UCI Hour Record (C2) for Para cycling under the new regulations with a mark of 43.133km at the National Cycling Centre in Manchester, Great Britain.
The 45-year-old bettered the World Best Performance set by France’s Laurent Thirionet in the C2 category, in 1999 by more than 2km.
“That was the hardest thing I have ever done,” he said.
“It was near-perfect for the first 40 minutes but the last 20 minutes is where it really starts to hurt. With about five minutes to go, I knew I was going to beat the record and was hanging on to make sure I set a strong new mark.
“It has been an amazing year for me and this was the perfect way to cap it off. I hope the record will stand for a while now, but also hope this will motivate other Para cyclists in all categories to test the record books.”
To find out more about the IPC’s Top 50 Moments of 2016, visit the dedicated page on the IPC’s website. https://www.paralympic.org/top-50-moments-2016