Ireland’s Colin Lynch, winner of a silver medal in track cycling at the Rio Paralympics last month, has become the first rider to set an officially recognised UCI Hour Record for Para-cycling.
Riding yesterday at the National Cycling Centre in Manchester, UK, where he trains, Lynch rode 43.133 kilometres within the allotted 60 minutes.
The 45-year-old grew up in Canada and had his left leg amputated below the knee following complications when he broke his foot playing rugby as a teenager.
He is classified as a C2 para-cyclist while, for example, Great Britain’s Dame Sarah Storey – who rode 45.502 kilometres when she attempted the UCI Hour Record in London last year, when no separate para-cyclist category existed – is classified as C5, so their efforts cannot be compared directly.
According to the International Paralympic Committee, “Sport class C1 is allocated to athletes with the most severe activity limitation, while the sport class C5 is allocated to athletes who meet the minimum disability criteria.”
In other words, Lynch's impediment to riding a standard bike is much more severe than Storey's, according to the official classification.
Lynch’s international para-cycling career began in 2010, and he has won rainbow jerseys on the road in the time trial and in the velodrome in the individual pursuit. He has also blogged about his experiences for road.cc.
“That was the hardest thing I’ve ever done,” said Lynch after yesterday’s ride.
“It was near-perfect for the first 40 minutes but the last 20 minutes is where it really starts to hurt.
“With about five minutes to go I knew I was going to beat the record and was hanging on to make sure I set a strong new mark.”
He continued: “It’s been an amazing year for me and this was the perfect way to cap it off.
“I hope the record will stand for a while now, but also hope this will start other para-cycling riders in all categories to test the record books.
“I want to thank the UCI and my Federation (Cycling Ireland) for backing me in this attempt,” Lynch added.
“I am now looking forward to some time off – and then coming back next year to try and win the World Championships Time Trial one more time!”
The UCI expanded its Hour Record regulations earlier this year to specifically include a category for para-cyclists.
“Congratulations to Colin for putting in a great performance and establishing a record that will stand in history as the first ever Para-cycling UCI Hour Record,” said the governing body’s president, Brian Cookson.
“Colin had great success at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games and today’s achievement comes as icing on the cake.
“I’m sure he will be an inspiration for many other riders to take on this iconic record,” he added.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.