World Cups 2 & 3

World Cups 2 & 3

cool photo of myself in World cup 2 time trial

The heart of the season is in full swing and it was time to see where I stacked up in 2024 against the world’s best handcyclists. With this being a paralympic year everyone’s game is at its highest level and I was expecting the competition to be fierce. This year’s trip overseas was going to be a Long one. Almost a month long in fact traveling to Belgium first for World Cup 1 then on to Paris to check out the paralympic course then ending in Italy for World Cup 3. Over the last few years Belgium has proven to be a course where I excel, grabbing my first world cup win there last year, I was expecting to do well hoping for a top 6 finish. Top 6 finishes were going to be so critical this year. For Team USA athletes hoping to qualify for the Paris paralympics a top 6 finish in these world cup races was the only way to score points towards being selected. There are 2 races at each world cup so I was going to have 4 chances to land myself some valuable points.

With Belgium being a flat and fast course along the coast in Oostende it was a perfect course for me. One drawback was it is always windy and rainy along the coast in Belgium but with my recent results in a windy Texas I was coming in with plenty of experience with the wind. The forecast called for rain all race week and all of the athletes were hoping the weather would change. To our surprise on race day no rain was in the forecast but plenty of wind. The tike trial is a 20 kilometer course in which I was hoping to finish in around 30 minutes and some change. From the start of the time trial I felt good, pushing the pace and power to my max. Plan was same as in Texas to put out most of my efforts going into the wind along the coast. I did just that holding back just slightly on the first lap. First lap was finished and I was just off the pace I wanted to set for the time trial. It was all or nothing going into the wind one last time on the second lap. I gave it my all and was running out of steam. One final effort with the wind at my back to finish out the time trial strong. Crossing the line with a time of 31:37 I knew that time wasn’t my best. Placing 10th out of 57 men wasn’t bad at all but not the top 6 I was hoping for.

The road race was 2 days later with a other chance at top 6. This race proved to be a tough one and with how my road racing went last year I had one simple goal. Finish with the front pack and finish strong. From the whistle I felt good and executed my plan of being near the front perfectly for the first 2 laps. I jumped all the way to the front and rode my own pace for the first 2 laps. A newly classified rider who was classed down into the men’s h3 category made a huge surge past me and I tried my best to go with him. I was able to cover his first 2 attacks but his 3rd attack out of a slow turned proved to be too much for me. Slowly I dropped back from the lead group but was able to form a chase group with some good friends. For lap after lap we shared the workload keeping the pace high. Slowly but surely we took time back from the lead group finally catching them on the last lap. Unfortunately when we caught them it was right before a critical turn and the road was blocked so attacking wasn’t an option. I was able to place myself in the lead pack but too far back to make a good move and placed 14th out of 57 men. Missing valuable points once again.

World Cup 3 in Italy was one I’d like to soon forget . Rainy conditions and a shortened time trial course due to the conditions proved to work against me. Going from 2 laps to 1 lap the time trial was going to be a short bit really hard effort. The race started slightly downhill so my plan was to conserve a little energy there leaving more energy for the uphill section on the backside. This plan proved to be the wrong one. Seeing the finish times I knew I should have just pushed as hard as I could from the minute I started. With a time of 14:28 I was 14th out of 53 men which was about 40 seconds off of a top 6 finish. Another disappointing race. This was the first time I didn’t place in the top 10 of a time trial in a long time. The road race 2 days later didn’t shape up to be any better. Maybe it was the fatigue from such a long trip, maybe it was me getting sick, or maybe I just didn’t have it that day. My performance in the road race was the worst I’d had ever. Placing 32nd out of 54 men. While I wasn’t able to score any points towards making the paralympic team I’ll use this as a learning experience and come back stronger next year. I got one more shot at making the paralympic team and it’s on my home turf in loma linda California. Now it’s time to take a few days off and finish the year strong.