Austria’s Ablinger wins again in Prudential RideLondon HandCycle Classic
Walter Ablinger continued a remarkable series of victories in the UK capital when he won the Prudential RideLondon HandCycle Classic on The Mall this morning 12 months after becoming the event’s first ever handcycle champion in last year’s criterium race.
The Austrian, who won Paralympic gold in London two years ago, today left the world’s best riders floundering in his wake as he sped over the 15-mile course from Kingston upon Thames to central London in less than 40 minutes.
“I’m so happy to win again because that was a tough race,” said the victorious Ablinger after crossing the line in 39 minutes 19 seconds. “After the Paralympics in London and the world championships, London seems to be a good place for me.”
“This is my third race here since the Paralympics and I’ve won them all. I wish I could race here every week. Perhaps I should emigrate here.”
A minute and a half behind the flying Austrian was Britain’s Brian Alldis, last year’s runner-up, who was forced to settle for second again when Ablinger opened an unbridgeable gap on a downhill stretch after eight miles.
“It was a long course and there were some tricky climbs, which I hadn’t expected,” said Ablinger, who arrived in rainy London from sunny Spain just one day before the race. “Brian and I worked together well in the first half, then I lost him going down hill and tried to do the last eight miles by myself.”
“I kept my speed high to the end and am really happy to win here again. I didn’t think I could go on my own, so it was a surprise to pull away.”
Alldis had trouble with rain on his racing glasses but held on to second after a sprint finish with Switzerland’s three-times Paralympic champion Heinz Frei.
“I’m a bit disappointed, to be honest, because I was planning to be on top of the podium this year,” said Alldis, who won this year’s Para-cycling World Cup.
“But with such a strong rider I have to happy with second. It’s no wonder he’s world champion in his class. He rode away from me so easily.”
“I will definitely do it again next year and go for top spot. Let’s hope it’s third time lucky.”
Fellow Briton Karen Darke was an emotional winner of the women’s race ahead of Switzerland’s Sandra Graf just a year after being involved in a career-threatening accident with a car.
Darke pulled away from the Paralympic and world champion around the 10-mile point and cruised under the finish gantry in The Mall in 45:52, 40 seconds ahead of her chaser.
“Two months before last year’s race I was hit by a car and I limped around the course wondering if I’d ever be able to race properly again.”
“It’s so lovely to be back and to be able to win in this way. I feel very lucky.”
“I’ve not been going that well in road races,” added Darke, who won Paralympic bronze at London 2012. “But this is a really good course with a few wicked hills. I’ve got the worlds in three weeks time so it gives me great confidence for those.”
“The rain today was no trouble at all. I live in Inverness, so this is nothing.”
Another Briton, Jennifer Browning, was third, nearly seven minutes behind Graf.
• Fifth event added to Prudential RideLondon
• Handcycle event to start at Kingston
• Kingston to host family-friendly festival for great day out
The Prudential RideLondon Handcycle Classic, part of the Mayor of London’s multi-award winning festival of cycling, will start at Kingston upon Thames on Sunday 10 August.
It becomes the fifth event within the world’s largest festival of cycling. Last year, the handcycle event was part of the series of Grand Prix criterium races in St James’s Park on the Saturday evening.
A field of up to 50 elite handcyclists, including top names from Paralympic sport, will line up on the start line in Kingston’s Ancient Market Place at 0830 on Sunday 10 August to race over a 15 mile route through the capital to finish in spectacular style on The Mall.
“Kingston is a key part of the route for Prudential RideLondon with the riders in the mass participation event and the men’s professional race passing through twice,” said Event Director Hugh Brasher. “Making the handcycling an event in its own right and moving it to Kingston means we offer the athletes a more testing challenge and make Kingston a central focus of the events on Sunday 10 August.”
“Kingston is proud to be hosting this event and to be at the heart of some great cycling action once again,” said Councillor David Glasspool, Kingston Council’s Cabinet Member for Arts, Heritage, Tourism and Leisure. “People will see Kingston at its best as we welcome Prudential RideLondon to our streets. Kingston town centre will be open for business as usual on 10 August with a family-friendly bike festival creating a carnival atmosphere for residents and visitors.”
As well as lining the route to cheer on the riders, people will be able to pull up a deck chair and watch the action on a giant screen, visit a cycling exhibition featuring the best international and independent cycling brands, and make the most of all that Kingston’s variety of shops, restaurants, bars, cafes and market stalls has to offer.
All car parks in Kingston town centre will be open as usual on 10 August, although access may be different due to road closures. Check www.kingston.gov.uk
nearer the time.
“This event is amazing,” says Walter Ablinger (Austria), winner of the 2013 Prudential RideLondon Handcycle race. “I will never forget winning in front of Buckingham Palace with thousands of spectators cheering us on. I’m very excited to hear the plans for this year and I’m really looking forward to lining up on the start line in Kingston on 10 August.”
The Prudential RideLondon Handcycle Classic will take place during the same road closure window that was originally planned for Sunday 10 August and does not involve any additional road closures.
An extensive communications campaign is already underway to help businesses and the public plan and get around on the day, as well as make the most of the events over the weekend. Since May, information has been sent to more than 1 million+ residents and businesses along and close to the event routes to help them plan ahead – further information will follow in July. A series of public information sessions are being held in the affected areas to provide details of the temporary changes in place and to offer residents and businesses the opportunity to ask questions. Information on travel disruption and advice is available on www.tfl.gov.uk/prudentialridelondon
. To avoid delays, wherever possible all drivers are advised to avoid areas near the event routes.
Prudential RideLondon comprises five separate events: the Prudential RideLondon FreeCycle, the Prudential RideLondon Grand Prix, the Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 100, the Prudential RideLondon Handcycle Classic and the Prudential RideLondon-Surrey Classic over the weekend of 9-10 August 2014. Find out more at www.PrudentialRideLondon.co.uk.