Irish paracycling riders win two European championship titles

Katie-George Dunlevy with pilot Linda Kelly and Ronan Grimes secure wins

Irish riders picked up a superb two gold medals in the European paracycling championships in Austria on Friday, with Katie-George Dunlevy and pilot Linda Kelly winning the women’s tandem time-trial event and Ronan Grimes proving fastest in the MC4 time-trial race.

Dunlevy and Kelly repeated their World Cup success of two weeks ago, again beating the British duo of Sophie Unwin and Jenny Holl. The Irishwomen completed the hilly two-lap race in 32 minutes 9.46 seconds, a clear 32 seconds quicker than the silver medallists. Griet Hoet and Anneleen Monsieur of Belgium were third.

Grimes had placed fourth in his category two weeks ago in the World Cup time-trial but went three places better on Friday, beating Belgium’s Louis Clinke by 16 seconds. Mickael Carlier of France took the bronze medal.

In the other events, Richael Timothy was fourth in the WC2 race, Damien Vereker and Dillon Corkery were fifth in the men’s tandem contest and Chris Burns was seventh in the MC2 event.

Dunlevy has most often partnered with Eve McCrystal in the tandem events but Kelly has taken the pilot’s role in this month’s World Cup and also in the current European championships. Dunlevy and McCrystal won two gold plus one silver medal at last year’s Paralympic Games, making them the most successful out of all of Ireland’s Paralympic team.

The European championships continue over the weekend with the road-race events. Declan Slevin, who finished ninth in the MH3 time trial on Thursday, is in action on Saturday while the remainder of the Irish team will compete on Sunday.

Meanwhile Matthew Devins was a fine ninth on Friday’s third stage of the Flèche du Sud in Luxembourg. He finished 16 seconds behind the solo winner Thibau Nys (Baloise Trek Lions) at the end of the 126.7 kilometre stage to Bourscheid. Dean Harvey was next-best of the team in 25th place, 49 seconds back.

Earlier in the race, Daire Feeley was 15th on Wednesday’s opening stage.

Deveins is best-placed of the Irish team overall. He is 29th heading into Saturday’s penultimate stage, one minute and 36 seconds behind race leader Nys. The Irish squad of Devins, Harvey, Feeley, Liam Curley, Odhran Doogan and Adam Kelly are a solid 10th in the team standings and are building important experience in the 2.2-ranked event.

Shane Stokes

Shane Stokes

Shane Stokes is a contributor to The Irish Times writing about cycling