Going into the London 2012 Paralympic Games British cyclists were looking to follow up their fantastic performance in Beijing four years previously, which had seen the team return home with a total of 20 medals, 17 of them gold.
The para-cyclists were once again among the stars of the games in London as they beat their Beijing medal haul, winning 22 medals in total including eight gold. Dame Sarah Storey was once again the most decorated rider, winning four titles across the road and the track to increase her tally of Paralympic titles to 11. There were further gold medals on the track for Mark Colbourne, Neil Fachie (piloted by Barney Storey), Anthony Kappes (piloted by Craig Maclean) and David Stone.
Since London, the team has continued to be a success on the road and the track as established riders like Jody Cundy and Dame Sarah Storey continued to occupy spots on the podium, with new riders also breaking through.
With no track world championships for the team in 2013, the team won two world titles on the road with David Stone and Lora Turnham (piloted by Corinne Hall) both winning gold in the road race and time-trial respectively as well as picking up silver medals in the time–trial and road race.
The team returned to track action in early 2014 with 18 year old Sophie Thornhill emerging as a new star at the track World Championships in Mexico, winning two world titles with pilot Rachel James, and breaking two world records. This would be the start of an incredibly successful period for Thornhill who would go on to firmly establish herself as one of the stars of the team in the build up to Rio, winning two Commonwealth Games alongside pilot Helen Scott in Glasgow, two more track world titles in Holland in 2015 and two silver medals in Monitchiari, Italy in 2016. There were also two gold medals in Mexico for Neil Fachie and pilot Pete Mitchell, two for Dame Sarah Storey and another world title for Jody Cundy in the C4 kilo.
At the road world championships there were another two world title wins for Sarah Storey in the time-trial and road race and a second world title in two years for Lora Turnham and Corinne Hall, this time in the road race. Turnham and Hall also won bronze in the time-trial while David Stone and Karen Darke both picked up a silver and bronze medal.
In 2015, with attention beginning to turn towards Rio, there were another seven world titles at the UCI Para-Cycling Track World Championships in Apeldoorn, with two more for Sophie Thornhill, this time piloted by Helen Scott. On top of this Neil Fachie and Pete Mitchell won two world titles, as did Dame Sarah Storey, with Jody Cundy winning one. Crystal Lane also added a silver and a bronze medal to the team’s tally.
An inexperienced team with a host of new faces travelled to the 2015 Road World Championships in Notwill, Switzerland, where Dame Sarah Storey was the only Great Britain Cycling Team rider to medal, winning gold in both the road and the time trial.
In March 2016 the team travelled to Montichiari, Italy, for their final major event before the Paralympic Games: the 2016 UCI Para-Cycling Track World Championships. The event was a huge success for the team with Megan Giglia becoming a world champion for the first time in her career, winning gold and breaking world records in the C3 500m time-trial and individual pursuit. Newcomer Kadeena Cox also won gold in the C4 500m time-trial, adding a set of rainbow stripes to the T37 100m world title she won in athletics in 2015. Neil Fachie and Pete Mitchell defended their tandem sprint and kilo titles for the third year in succession while Dame Sarah Storey and Jody defended their individual pursuit and kilo titles respectively.
The best performance was saved for last though as a team sprint squad of Jody Cundy, Jon Allan Butterworth and 18 year old Louis Rolfe set a new world record to beat China and win gold. In total the team won 18 medals.
- First year at a Paralympic Games:
- New York 1984 (road events for athletes with cerebral palsy)
- Seoul 1988 (road only on the programme, athletes who have visual impairments only).
- Barcelona 1992 (road only on the programme, different impairment classes included).
- Atlanta 1996 (track cycling added to the programme).
- Athens 2004 (handcycling added to the programme).
- Brief history:
- Para-cycling was first developed by cyclists with visual impairments who competed on tandem bicycles. Since then, the sport has continued to grow and the Paralympic programme has grown to accommodate high levels of international interest in competitive cycling.
- Eligible impairment groups:
- All physical impairment groups and visually impaired athletes
- London medal table - Cycling:
- 1 – Great Britain (eight gold, nine silver, five bronze)
- 2 – United States (six gold, five silver, six bronze)
- 3 – China (six gold, 4 silver, five bronze)
- GB medals in London - Track:
- Sarah Storey, gold, C5 3km pursuit and gold, individual C4-5 500m time-trial
- Mark Colbourne, gold, C1 individual pursuit and silver, C1-3 1km pursuit
- Neil Fachie and Barney Storey, gold, individual B 1km time-trial and silver, individual B sprint
- Anthony Kappes and Craig Maclean, gold, individual B sprint
- Aileen McGlynn and Helen Scott, silver, individual B 1km time-trial and bronze, individual B sprint
- Shaun McKeown, silver, C3 individual pursuit
- Jon-Allan Butterworth, silver, C4-5 1km time-trial and silver, C5 individual pursuit
- Darren Kenny, Rik Waddon and Jon-Allan Butterworth, silver, mixed C1-5 team sprint
- Darren Kenny, bronze, C3 individual pursuit
- Jody Cundy, bronze, C4 individual pursuit
- GB medals in London - Road:
- Sarah Storey, gold, individual C5 time-trial and gold, individual C4-5 road race
- David Stone, gold, T1-2 road race and bronze, T1-2 time-trial
- Mark Colbourne, silver, individual C1 time-trial
- Karen Darke, silver, individual H1-2 time-trial
- Rachel Morris, bronze, individual H1-3 road race
- Did you know?
- Dame Sarah Storey’s total of 11 Paralympic gold medals currently leaves her tied as Great Britain’s most successful Paralympian alongside Baroness Tanni Grey Thompson and Dave Roberts
- Rio 2016 venue:
- Track - Rio Olympic Velodrome (Barra Zone)
- Road - Flamengo Park (Copacabana Zone)
Paralympic cyclists compete under exactly the same rules and conditions as their counterparts at the Olympic Games.
- 1km time-trial (known as the kilo) begins with a standing start and athletes compete against the clock to complete the 1km distance in the fastest time.
- Team sprint: Contested over three laps of the track by two teams of three riders. Teams start at opposite sides of the track and each rider must lead for one lap. The front rider pulls out of the way at the end of each lap leaving the next rider to take over at the front. The third and final front rider sets the team time when they cross the finishing line at the end of the third lap.
- 3km and 4km individual pursuit (two events): Competitors start on opposite sides of the track and attempt to catch their opponent. The four athletes with the best times in the opening round progress to the next round progress to the medal rides, where the two fastest qualifiers race for gold and silver and third races fourth compete for the bronze medal. If a competitor catches and passes the opponent, they win the race – although they may choose to continue, usually if they are attempting to break a record or set a new personal best.
- 500m time-trial: Contested over two laps of the track, a rider begins with a standing start and riders compete against the clock to complete the distance in the fastest time.
- Road race: Races have a bunched start and the first rider to cross the finishing line wins.
- Road time-trial: Competitors start at 60-second intervals and the rider completing the distance the fastest is declared the winner.
Paralympic cyclists compete under the exact same rules and conditions as their counterparts at the Olympic Games. Currently the sport includes individuals with cerebral palsy, amputations, visual and any other physical impairment.
Road cyclists compete on handcycles, tricycles, tandem bicycles or bicycles according to their functionality. On the track, cyclists ride either tandem bicycles or bicycles.
Classification categories are currently defined in the following manner:
C1-C5 for athletes with cerebral palsy, amputees and others who can ride a bicycle.
T1-T2 (tricycle) for athletes with cerebral palsy, neurological conditions or other athletes who are unable to ride a bicycle.
B for visually impaired cyclists who are classified together and compete on tandem bicycles with a sighted guide or pilot rider.
H1-H5 (handcycle) for riders with impairments affecting either both legs or a combination of the upper and lower limbs (amputees, paraplegics and tetraplegics). H1-4 all compete in a lying position whereas H5 compete in a kneeling position.
Some cycling events will be factored at the Paralympics. This means that cyclists from different classes compete against each other and means that the results take into account the severity of the impairments of each competitor. As a result, some riders within an event will have their times ‘factored’ while other riders will not. The gold medal goes to the athlete with the fastest time after all the required times have been factored.
At Rio 2016 factored events will be:
- Track: C1-2-3 kilo men, C1-2-3 kilo women, C4-5 kilo men, C4-5 kilo women
- Road: H1-2 time-trial women, C1-2-3 time-trial women, T1-2 time-trial mixed