My First World ChampionshipsOwen Daniels
Racing for me would start on June 11th with a 25 kilometer time trial located on an old F1 track that would prove to be a very technical course with plenty of fast turns and plenty of punchy hills to climb. Before I’d get the chance to race first I had to see a classification panel to see if I could finally get reclassed from H4 to H3 which is the class I believed I should have been in ever since I was classed H4 back in 2014. I believed I was in the wrong class because in the uci rulebook it states that the H3 class was for paraplegics with an injury level from T1-T10 and being that I was a T10 para I fell within the parameters of the H3 class. After going through plenty of test in front of the classification panel they kept me in the H4 class but I was told they would observe me racing making their final decision then. To say I was disappointed was an understatement. I just couldn’t understand why they didn’t class me H3. Friday came and it was time trial day and I just hadn’t been feeling great all week due to my infection. I got in a good warm up but I knew right away I wasn’t going to be in good form for this time trial I was about to undertake. After my warm up I strapped on my time trial helmet and was ready to give it my best shot. Watching the clock count down as it got closer to my start the nerves started to run wild. 3-2-1 Go! The buzzer sounded and i was off. The plan was to take it easy on the first of 3 laps around the course hoping to save energy for what was the longest time trial I have ever competed in. My first lap was decent but I could feel my power starting to drop off significantly once I started the second lap. My power output was off from the power I put out in Belgium by about 30 watts which is huge. However, I pushed on giving it my best effort to try and finish strong. As I struggled to put the power to the pedals I watched people I beat last month in Belgium pass me like I was standing still I knew I just didn’t have the fitness to put in a great performance at my first world championships which was very hard for me to stomach. After the race was over I knew I did so bad I didn’t even go to check the results to see what place I came in. The team packed up and we headed back to the hotel where recovery was the plan to get ready for the road race on Sunday. Upon arrival to my hotel room I received a message from my coach that read, “so you got reclassed.” Confused I wrote him back and told him no I was still an H4 and just didn’t understand why. Then a picture came through with the next message that showed the results of the mens H4 class and at the bottom of the results it showed my name and a symbol for being reclassed. To say I was relieved was an understatement. Finally I was going to be able to compete with those who I thought were my peers and not be stuck in a class I believed I had a huge disadvantage in. Now it was time to recover and get ready to compete in my first mens H3 race since 2013.
Sunday was upon me and although I still wasn’t feeling great from my infection I was happy to be racing in my first H3 race in a long while. The road race would be held on the same F1 track as the time trial going around 7 laps on this course making the race distance just short of 70 kilometers. The race consisted of 28 men and the worlds best H3 were all there to show where they stacked up against each other. The race announcer called us up one at a time from fastest to slowest depending on Friday’s time trial times. I figured since I didn’t compete as an H3 on Friday I would be starting in the back but to my surprise I started somewhere in the mid field. From the gun it was full gas and my plan was to try and make my way towards the front and hang on for dear life. The first lap went well and I was able to work my way into the top 10 riders. Surge after surge the front riders charged out of every turn. First lap was in the books and I was feeling fatigued already. On the second lap I started to drop back in the field but still with the front group. By the end of the second lap I was at the back of the lead group and feeling really tired. We crossed the line to start the 3rd lap and I just couldn’t hold on any longer to the lead group. For the 3rd and 4th lap it was consistent with I did in the time trial. Power just wasn’t there and I watched people pass by that I knew if it had been a month earlier I would be well ahead of them. To my surprise though as the race dragged on i did start to feel better and was able to finish strong crossing the finish line in 18th out of 28 riders. Not the results I wanted but was happy at the experience I gained from this race and with the fact I got to go back to the USA and compete in the H3 category. One thing I do know is this will not be the last time I make it to world championships and ive vowed to make it back again next year in 2022 in much better health and shape this time. Now time to pack up and make my long flight home back to sunny California but it will be short lived because 24 hours after arriving at home i will be on a flight to Minneapolis for the paralympic team trials to compete for my chance at a spot on the paralympic team for USA!