Para-cycling out of Tokyo Games?

Para-cyclingPara-cycling looks to be in real danger of being left out of the 2020 Paralympics in Tokyo as a result of the UCI’s failure to submit the necessary paperwork on schedule; whilst the deadline for the International Paralympic Committee management team was July 28, the UCI only filed last week. The failure leaves para-cycling chasing one of the seven remaining slots for sports available after the IPC confirmed the 16 already guaranteed representation.


The blunder comes at a time when there is also potential for the number of sports represented being reduced, IPC president Sir Philip Craven explains: ‘Our aim is to ensure that the final Tokyo 2020 Paralympic sports programme is fresh and features the best Para-sports possible. Although we can have a maximum of 23 sports in six years’ time, we have an option to reduce the number of sports in order to ensure we have a compelling and attractive Para-sports programme.’


Jody Cundy, who represented GB at the 2008 Summer Paralympics and broke the world record on the way to winning the gold in the 1km Time Trial, tweeted: ‘(It) sums up how high we appear on the UCI radar. Not surprised at all.’


Since para-cycling made its debut at the Seoul Paralympics in 1988, GB has proven to be one of the most successful nations, topping the medal tables at both Beijing and London.


More on Jody Cundy at


Unstoppables Need You!

Unstoppables documentary fundraising Paralympics Juan Jose Méndez, Raquel AcinasThe documentary ‘Unstoppables’ follows two of Spain’s most influential and motivational Paralympians – Juan Jose Méndez and Raquel Acinas (read our interview with them here) – the company behind the film is looking to raise an additional £10,000 for completion via the funding platform Kickstarter, so this is your chance to get involved and help bring to fruition a film that deserves to be seen by (and inspire) a global audience. You can read the Cyclo interview with director Dani Jariod and executive producer Richard Galvani here or make a real difference and pledge some money by visiting


Featured Features

Unstoppables Q&A

Unstoppables Raquel Acinas and Juan Jose Méndez

Raquel Acinas and Juan Jose Méndez – known to all as ‘Juanjo’ – are two of Spain’s most celebrated, influential and successful para-cyclists. Although neither quite hit their expected marks at the London Paralympics, as stars of Dani Jariod’s documentary ‘Unstoppables’ – which is currently in post-production and followed the self-styled ‘Pirates Team’ for more than two years – they are united in their belief that inspiring others is of paramount importance. Cyclo spoke with them post-Paralympics to talk about their training, Games experience, ambitions and involvement in this unique film…


Cyclo: What was a typical day’s training leading up to London 2012?


Juanjo: We trained mornings and afternoons. Normally we’d hit the road in the morning to do a few fast rounds and then in the afternoon we would do the ‘trasmoto’ on the track, to get cadence, to get the right rhythm…


(Cyclo Note: during the ‘trasmoto’ the cyclist follows their trainer, who is riding a motorbike at 50km/h)


Raquel: The way our coach, Bernat, prepares it he combines the training for the Olympic Games with training for the track and road World Trials. A first stage, which is more aerobic, to get some body mass… and as we approached the Games we got into a more specific workout: a series of fast races on track and on the road, plus ‘trasmoto’ to achieve speed, and finally physical work on the road, pushed to the limit, to achieve long-term resistance.


Cyclo: Do either of you cross-train?


Juanjo: For me, no, just cycling.


Raquel: Yes, I do, especially swimming. And I have started lately to jog a little, but I need to learn the technical aspects a bit more. Now I am beginning to get serious about athletics in addition to cycling.


Cyclo: What about your diet?


Raquel: We have a dietician who guides us. We do not have any special diet as such, but we do have our meals arranged, five times a day, and we structure them so that we get all the nutrients. Our dietician advises us on how to prepare our meals. It is all about eating well and healthily.


Juanjo: For me – lots of vegetables, some pasta, a lot of fish and little meat. Everything usually grilled. And also omelettes, because of the eggs…


Cyclo: How did you feel when you were asked to be part of the Unstoppables film?


Juanjo: I felt fantastic! At first I wondered if it was serious… But to make a film about what we do here I found it to be something special.


Raquel: I was excited, especially knowing the reason for the documentary. We are proud to be part of a project that talks, as the title says, of being unstoppable, of never giving up. And seeing the impact it is having on the world it is a real pleasure being part of it.


Cyclo: Did participating in the documentary add to the pressure of competition?


Juanjo: No, it didn’t. When you compete, you focus hard, and you cannot really think of anything else.


Raquel: No, the real pressure is that which you place on yourself, trying to improve your record again and again, and the pressure you get from the circumstances around you. The film did not add any extra pressure besides the normal pressure one feels in these cases.


Cyclo: How difficult is it to ignore that you are being filmed, particularly at times of additional stress – during a race for example?


Juanjo: Not difficult at all.


Raquel: No problem at all, we get on the track to do our workout and the people from the film are there, but that does not affect us.


Cyclo: What do you think a film like Unstoppables can achieve?


Juanjo: I think people will see that you can do many things. It will allow those who have a disability see that life is beautiful and you can do many things. And it is also important that children can see and learn this. Being able to show and teach this to others will be great. Not only learning seeing us, but also other people who have other disabilities, such as those many we saw at the Paralympic Games, people without arms or legs whom you just think it is impossible, for example, for them to swim, but they do. It’s awesome. We need to be taught things like that.


Raquel: Many things. For starters, you can raise awareness about sports to people with disabilities and teach them that they can practice sports as we do; it is simply a matter of not being afraid and not believing in barriers. In the Games we saw people with disabilities that were much greater than ours who, you felt they would practice any sport no matter what the disability they might have. You feel that there are no limits for them. On the other hand, the film will increase the awareness of disable sports in our own country, and it will help many more people be recognized as top athletes, because the point needs to be made, and the movie makes it, that we do not exist only during the six weeks of the Games and then we vanish. We do exist and we train every day!


The full interview with Raquel and Juanjo will feature in the next issue of Cyclo for iPad coming soon. For issues 1 and 2 take a look at Cyclo at the iTunes Store – issue 1 is free, issue 2 just £1.49


‘Unstoppables’ is produced by Black Train Films with part sponsorship from Cofidis, for more information see:


To read Cyclo’s Interview with the film’s director Dani Jariod and executive producer Richard Galvani click here.



Featured Features

Unstoppables Documentary

Currently still in production, the documentary ‘Unstoppables’ follows two of Spain’s most influential and motivational Paralympians – Juan Jose Méndez (known to all as ‘Juanjo’) and Raquel Acinas – as they trained for and competed at the London Paralympics. Director Dani Jariod followed the self-styled ‘Pirates Team’ for more than two years and Cyclo caught up with him and executive producer Richard Galvani post-Games and discovered that, despite Juanjo and Raquel not fulfilling their Paralympic dreams, their aim and that of the film, remains the same: To inspire…


Cyclo: How did the idea for this film come about?


Richard Galvani: When we sat down to decide what we would do next as a production company I said ‘I want to do something inspirational’. I had just watch a documentary on Afghanistan and we hear about the one or two that very sadly die, but we don’t hear so much about the dozens that come back with these life-changing injuries. I’ve seen personally the benefits to people getting involved with sports clubs; it immediately breaks down all levels of colour, race, creed and physical ability.


Dani Jariod: In the beginning the project was far more widespread. The initial idea was to follow different athletes from different categories and sports and even different Spanish regions. But once we went to the velodrome (in Barcelona) and met Juanjo and Raquel everybody went: ‘Stop the press!’ There was no need to be looking for others; here we had all we needed to tell our story.


Cyclo: Were Juanjo and Raquel immediately receptive of the idea?


Dani Jariod: I sat down with them and told them our intentions and they were very friendly from minute one. Very open and generous and we all have to thank them for that.


Cyclo: No nerves about the extra pressure?


Dani Jariod: Not at all. They are not exactly famous in Spain, but certainly relevant. Every time someone from the media goes to the Paralympic Committee looking for a spokesperson they get a short list of six or 10 athletes and Raquel, for instance, is always one of them. She is very open to all this kind of stuff because she is very eager to do anything that spreads the word of disabled sports and to show all that sport can do to help disabled people.


Cyclo: Cycling has a huge fan-base in Spain. Has para-cycling always had the same following?


Dani Jariod: When Juanjo started after his terrible accident he did it just because he needed to do some sport – he was in his wheelchair all day long and feeling miserable; cycling was always his favourite sport and so just got on and did it. Then he realised there were these para-cycling competitions, so he decided to become more professional about it. It is not so common in Spain although things have changed in the last 20 years but it still has a long way to go.


Cyclo: How did you find the facilities in London?


Dani Jariod: Wonderful. I’m used to the old velodrome that we have in Barcelona which goes back to something like 1987; an open velodrome that has its charm but it’s old and a bit rusty and you come here and see this huge and wonderful velodrome… I have enjoyed it very much.


Cyclo: And Juanjo and Raquel?


Dani Jariod: The experience of participating, of course absolutely. It’s the Paralympic Games after all! They have worked hard and earned their position here so they are delighted to have competed. On the other hand they feel a bit disappointed because of the results. But it’s the same at the club at home as here: if you fall, you get up. That’s the main thing. The last day after the Road Race at Brands Hatch they were a bit disappointed but the next day they were already preparing for Brazil – ‘Okay, let’s go for the next one!’


Cyclo: Amazing achievements for them both in London, but not the results that Juanjo or Raquel had hoped for.


Richard Galvani: They didn’t get any medals this time largely because of the change of categories; Juanjo in particular was lumped together with C2 and C3 riders, racing against people with prosthetics below the knee or even with two legs but with hand disabilities for example. They lost out; you simply can’t compete against someone with two legs… Juanjo was leading his race at Brands for about a quarter of the event, but with one leg of course every time they went up hill the others would pass him and he could only get them back on the downhill and on the straights. Even the commentator was saying how amazing he was.


They came here and did their best, Raquel got a Paralympic Certificate and Juanjo goes home with a couple of Certificates and they have been an example to everybody.


Cyclo: How early did you know about the rule changes?


Richard Galvani: I didn’t know anything until the Games had started. I presume they did, but I don’t know if they knew exactly what to expect. The team is managed by the national coach who is in Madrid and they are both from Barcelona; there is always a lot of rivalry between the two cities – a bit like the football – and perhaps they didn’t get quite the same treatment as far as information went.


Also their club trainer wasn’t given accreditation for The Games and Juanjo suffered at the Time Trial at Brands Hatch because of that; he finished fifth but could probably have gotten bronze if he had had feedback on times – he thought he was in bronze medal position but no one was giving him his times! He’s 48 now and he got a medal at Beijing and Athens and he wanted that hat-trick and maybe retire…


Cyclo: Do the results change the nature of the film?


Dani Jariod: Only very, very slightly. After all it’s about overcoming whatever obstacle you face. I would have loved to see them getting a medal because they really deserve it, but that’s talking as a friend. But thinking as a filmmaker, the documentary never set out to focus on medals, it is about their spirit, about who they are and what they do because they are very inspirational to everybody. That hasn’t changed one bit.


It’s perhaps even more inspirational if you see them after the apparent disappointment of not getting medals, because they get up and just start riding again.


Richard Galvani: Of course Juanjo and Raquel were hopeful that they would get a medal in London, but that’s not an integral part of the film, the main thing is to inspire people with disabilities – which is a term I hate because they are quite able to do anything – to get on their bikes and get involved with sports and improve the quality of their lives… It would have been lovely if they had won a medal, but on the other hand many people will watch this and say ‘I’ll never win a medal’, so this really is about the taking part.


Cyclo: What’s your approach to filmmaking with ‘Unstoppables’?


Dani Jariod: Our way of shooting is very observational, we don’t interfere with anything. We just watch… Occasionally we do one or two interviews, but really we just follow day to day. So there was no interference from us and we never asked them to do anything for us or repeat anything. We just watch, that is enough.


Cyclo: You still have work to do on the film. What’s next?


Dani Jariod: We still have some stuff to shoot. This project was so exciting, but with a huge unknown question hanging over it: are they going to get a medal? Right now we have those results and we need to close that chapter and look at the repercussions, to see what will happen to their lives after London 2012. We will be shooting until November and then the editing process begins.


Cyclo: That’s going to be a huge task.


Dani Jariod: You have to be patient. The worst thing, as I say, is that initially we didn’t know the ending. Now we do, so some of the things we have shot along the way will now have a different meaning. Now it’s time to get the story straight. It’s a slow process but it’s very clear in my head what sort of story we are about to tell the world…


‘Unstoppables’ is produced by Black Train Films with part sponsorship from Cofidis, for more information see


To read Cyclo’s interview with Juanjo and Raquel, click here.



Royal Mail Stamps Approval

Neil Fachie and pilot Barney Storey’s gold success in the B 1km Time Trial, in which they beat Spain’s Jose Enrique Porto Lareo and and Jose Antonio Villanueva (silver) and the Netherlands’ Rinne Oost and Patrick Bos (bronze), is to be commemorated by the Royal Mail with a special stamp that will be available from Monday. In addition – and in line with the tradition begun last month at the Olympics – a post box in Aberdeen will be painted gold for Fachie and another in Disley in Cheshire for Storey, the husband of Sarah Storey who herself has already scored double-gold at the Paralympics. Fachie and Barney Storey’s 1Km Time Trial set a new World Record of 1:01.351.



Second Gold for Sarah Storey

Sarah Storey has added a second gold to her tally in the C4-5 500m Individual Time Trial, having already taken top spot on the opening day of the Paralympics Games in the C5 Individual Pursuit. In a thrilling display the 34-year-old story recorded a time of 36.997 seconds holding America’s Jennifer Schuble off for silver and China’s Jianping Ruan in bronze. Her attention will now turn to next week’s Time Trial and Road Race in an effort to double her gold total for 2012.


An excellent day too for Sarah’s husband Barney Storey who helped pilot Neil Fachie to gold in the B Category 1km Time Trial, an event that saw a desperately disappointing ‘Did Not Finish’ for Anthony Kappes and his pilot Craig MacLean who suffered a double mechanical failure at their starts and were denied a third crack at the track.


In the Men’s Individual C4 Pursuit Jody Cundy channelled the frustration of his own ‘DNF’ from yesterday by taking the bronze; gold went to Romania’s Carol-Eduard Novak and silver to the Czech Republic’s Jiri Jezek. Whilst the Men’s C5 Pursuit saw a further medal for GB with Jon-Allan Butterworth taking silver behind Australian Michael Gallagher’s Gold.


With the velodrome action complete, attention next turns to the Wednesday’s Time Trials and Thursday’s Road Race.



Paralympics Cycling Day Two

The first Team GB medal of day two was won by Aileen McGlynn and pilot Helen Scott taking silver in the in the blind/visually impaired tandem 1km Time Trial. As the penultimate pair they set themselves up for gold but were beaten into second place in the final run by World Champions Felicity Johnson and Stephanie Morton of Australia who set a Paralympic record of 1:08.919 in the process. New Zealand’s Phillipa Gray and Laura Thompson took the silver with GB’s Lora Turnham and pilot Fiona Duncan finished in fourth place.


In the Men’s C4-5 1km Time Trial Jon-Allan Butterworth only just missed out on gold having set a blazing 1:05.985 a second better on the previous World Record (set by Butterworth back in March) but it proved not enough for relegation to silver with Spain’s Alfonso Cabello taking the gold with a time of 1:05.947. China’s Xinyang Liu took the bronze. GB’s Jody Cundy, set to be the final rider out of the blocks, was given a controversial ‘Did Not Finish’ after stumbling at the start and having a request for a restart denied.


Gold though was certainly on the cards for Mark Lee Colbourne – who won silver in the Men’s C1-2-3 1km Time Trial yesterday – when he today beat China’s Zhang Yu Li in the final of the Men’s C1 Individual 3km Pursuit. He did it in truly impressive style too, bagging a new World Record time of 3:53.881.


Racing for Bronze in the C3 Men’s Individual Pursuit Britain’s Darren Kenny was determined to go home with a medal and did just that with a World Record time of 3.35.257 to beat Australia’s David Nicholas. In the Silver/Gold final things got off to a literally shaky start for America’s Joseph Berenyl against GB’s Shaun McKeown with a restart due to a technical fault with the bike, but once things got underway the American dominated winning in 3:37.912.



Gold for Storey

In an as-expected but none-the-less utterly thrilling Women’s C5 Individual Pursuit Sarah Storey racked up the first gold medal for team GB at the London Paralympics. The 34-year-old, hotly tipped for success at The Games and with an impressive string of titles and records already to her name, streaked passed her opponent – Poland’s Anna Harkowska – little over halfway through the 3km event; she had earlier qualified for the final in a time of 3:32.170 seconds – more than a second better than her 2009 best. New Zealand’s Fiona Southorn took the Silver, with GB’s Crystal Lane in fourth position.