Eltje Malzbender has shown tremendous heart and tenacity to be crowned World Champion in the Women’s T1 Road Race after crashing on the final lap at the UCI Para Cycling Road World Championships.
The Morrinsville rider held a 48 second lead over the Canadian, before taking a spill which almost cost her the race. “I got it wrong, I didn’t lean inwards like you do on the trike and then fell off to the left side and they tell me within thirty seconds I was back on the bike, that was certainly an even bigger success than winning.”
Malzbender returned to her bike and even managed to increase her lead again slightly in the dying stages of the 22.2km race to win in a time of 51.46, 12 seconds ahead of Shelley Gautier of Canada.
The crash cracked one of her teeth and required stitches, proving just how determined Eltje was to finish. “Eltje’s ride was just so gutsy, the course doesn’t suit trikes at all with the camber of the road and its technicality of the roads,” said Paralympics New Zealand Para Cycling Performance Head Coach Stuart McDonald.
The victory caps off a successful week for Malzbender who won the World Title in the Time Trial earlier in the week. “My first goal was to win the time trial, the second goal was to win the road race, and the third was in the time trial, after factoring in times to post a time that would have won the T2 category, which I did.”
It’s New Zealand’s best ever performance at a World Championships finishing with three world titles, 7th on the gold medal table, 8th overall on the medal table just behind the USA and in front of Great Britain who are some of the powerhouses in terms of Para cycling.
- Adapted article from the paralympics.org.nz website