Hours after Ronan Grimes won gold for Ireland in the C4 road race, Paracycling champions Katie George Dunlevy and Eve McCrystal added to their glittering career haul late on Sunday, winning the women’s tandem road race at the paracycling worlds in Baie Comeau, Canada.
The duo clocked up what is their sixth world championship title, breaking clear of the field and finishing a full one minute 36 seconds clear of British rivals Sophie Unwin and Jenny Holl.
Irish duo Josephine Healion and Linda Kelly continued what has been a remarkable ten days racing together, taking the bronze medal just over six minutes behind Dunlevy and McCrystal. They outsprinted the Polish riders Justyna Kiryla and Kamila Wojcikiewicz to do so, despite their chain coming off close to the line.
Dunlevy and McCrystal have previously taken five world championship titles, as well as gold, gold and silver from last year’s Paralympic Games and gold and silver in Rio five years ago. Winning again means they will wear the rainbow jersey of the world champions for the next year.
“I’m absolutely over the moon,” said Dunlevy. “It’s our sixth World Championship medal and it’s as special as the first and you know we lost the titles last year so it’s great to that back to bring to Ireland.”
McCrystal said they made a decision during the event which ultimately paved the way for their success.
“It was a nice course; it was the same as the time trial we just had an extra hill in it. It was a challenging enough course, but it was nice and flowy. We got away mid-race with the British team; we’ve been beaten before in a sprint with them so we just couldn’t take them to the line.
“We discussed tactics and we went on the climb of the second last lap and we rode to the rainbow jersey, which was great.”
As for bronze medallists Healion and Kelly, they have had a meteoric rise this month. They first competed as a tandem duo in the paracycling World Cup in Quebec on August 5th. They took the silver medal in the time trial and repeated the feat two days later in finishing second to Dunlevy and McCrystal in the road race.
They had bad luck on Friday in the paracycling world championship time trial, being significantly delayed with a mechanical problem and finishing seventh rather than being able to chase a medal.
Taking bronze on Sunday marks them out as major talents for the future.
Grimes, too, has impressed. He won gold earlier on Sunday, having taken bronze in Friday’s time trial.
The Galway competitor was one of five riders who reached the finish together at the end of the 81.9 kilometre race and proved quickest in the final sprint, beating Louis Clincke (Belgium), George Peasgood (Great Britain) and two others to the line.
“Every year I’ve been getting a tiny bit closer, but I never knew I would actually make that top step in a road race and thinking how that would actually happen,” he said. “Today everything seemed to go right.
“It was a hard race and a long sprint to the line, which played into my hands perfectly today. If things had been a bit more cagey today I mightn’t have had that kick, but I think when it’s a hard, honest race, it played to my strengths.”
He has made a jump in performance level since last year, when he took the bronze medal in the world championship road race and fourth in the time trial, as well as fourth in the C4 individual pursuit at the Paralympics.
Damien Vereker and his pilot Dillon Corkery finished eighth in the men’s tandem race, being delayed with a puncture during the race. The event was won by Dutch riders Tristan Bangma and Patrick Bos.