Posted by Editoress on 09/17/16
Robbi Weldon of Thunder Bay, Ontario, and her pilot Audrey Lemieux of Alma, Quebec, were the top finishers for Canada on Saturday, the final day of para-cycling competition at the Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. Weldon and Lemieux finished fifth in the Women's Tandem road race.
The 69 kilometre race was won by Iwona Podkoscielna and Aleksandra Teclaw of Poland, in a time of one hour, 58 minutes and two seconds. Weldon and Lemieux finished three minutes and 14 seconds back in a sprint, with the second Canadian team of Shawna Ryan (Saskatoon, Saskatchewan) and Joanie Caron (Rimouski, Quebec) finishing 12th, 13 minutes and 38 behind the winners.
"It was a very good race, we were both super pleased," said Weldon. "After all our hill training the hills felt much easier and we were able to stay with the climbers, which was one of our goals. To finish top five ... we are super happy with that."
"It was an extremely challenging course," admitted Ryan. "It was probably one of the most challenging courses we have done together. We just tried to stay mentally in sync and positive. We accomplished that, which I'm really proud of."
In the 99 kilometre Men's Tandem road race, the Canadian team of Daniel Chailfour (St-Therese, Quebec) and pilot Jean-Michel Lachance (Quebec City, Quebec) did not finish after a crash. Vincent ter Schure and Timo Fransen of the Netherlands won the gold medal.
"We had four laps of the 15 kilometre time trial course and then two 20 kilometre laps," said Lachance. "The first part was pretty technical, so our goal was not to miss any moves at the front. We were in the top five or six after the first big climb, but then on the descent our front wheel exploded. We were both a bit injured in the crash, so we decided that we could not finish the race."
The 72 kilometre Women's C4-C5 road race had two Canadian entrants, with C4 rider Marie-Claude Molnar (Lemoyne, Quebec) finishing 16th after riding in a break for the first hour of the race. Nicole Clermont (St-Denis-de-Brompton, Quebec) did not finish after crashing on a descent.
"I was hoping for that [to be at the front], but it came as a surprise," said Molnar. "After the race started I looked behind me and it was like the pack didn't want to go. So I went on a break and a girl from Estonia joined me. The pack caught us but then I went again, and a girl from China joined me. We had as much as a minute and a half on the pack, but then on the climb we got caught and I didn't have much energy left, but I'm really proud of my race."
"Two thirds of my race went as planned," said Clermont. "On the flat part I was exactly where I wanted to be and I felt great. After the second really steep section of climbing I was third, so I took a chance on the descent, and on the second last corner I fell and slid. Not enough to hurt too much, but my brakes were sticking. I got going again but I couldn't stay with the riders anymore and after a while my coaches told me 'that's it, let's stop it here'. But I'm really proud of what I did today; I was right there. It's part of the game, you take risks; it could have paid off but it didn't today."
Jacques Landry, Director of High Performance for Cycling Canada, summarized Canada's results at the end of the most successful Paralympic Games ever for cycling, with nine medals - one gold, three silver and five bronze.
"It has been a really good Games, obviously," said Landry. "We finished off with nine medals, and we could have potentially had another one with Tristen [Chernove] in the road race, and we came close with Robbi [Weldon] in the road race today. All in all, we started off with a goal of three medals when we started the quad after London  and we tripled that goal. Midway through the quad we upped our goals, but we never thought that nine medals would have been possible."
"It all came from looking at the process; we enhanced our daily training environment, the time the coaches spend with the athletes, the training and recovery and proper monitoring of the athletes, we brought in our sports psychologist, and that helped a lot with our athletes. We were able to arrive at these Games with a better mindset and better preparation."