South African Gary Coetsee is happy with his form as he heads into the UCI Para-Cycling Road World Cup in Corridonia, Italy, which starts today.
The 36-year-old said he had a good test of the legs when he competed in the East Rand Classic road race the week before heading to Europe.
“I compete domestically in the vets racing category against able-bodied athletes and I finished seventh in this Gauteng-based race.
“It was a good test to see where the body is at this stage and I’m happy,” said Coetsee, who is taking part in the individual time trial and road race this weekend as well as the ITT and road race in the world cup in Belgium next week.
He said his goal for the two world cups was to attain maximum position and points in all the races.
“My strategies for the different races depend on many factors. The courses are quite technical, so positioning in the bunch and staying close to the front and out of danger is vital.
“Then basically [I’ll be] hiding and surviving the attacks from the teams as I race alone and have no teammates who could help position me.
“The racing here in the C4/C5 category is extremely competitive and there are a lot of athletes from countries that are professionals and have fully sponsored continental teams, so the level and competition is of an extremely high class.”
Coetsee, who placed 15th in the C5 TT at last year’s Para-Cycling Road World Championships in Maniago, Italy, said it would mean a lot to him to bring home a medal.
“I’ve gone through many challenges just to get to this point. But it’s just a step in a series of races, so I think placing consistently will be a good reflection of where things are standing.”
He felt proud to form part of the national team for the world cup races.
“It’s a great feeling. We as SA athletes are faced with many challenges and don’t have the support at all like the other nations do.
“All is done on our own accord and cost, so therein lies huge accomplishment and satisfaction when podium positions are achieved.”
Coetsee added that the main challenge was funding to get to these events and he had to pay for everything out of his own pocket.
“Then when you get here to compete there are many challenges in these races. Team tactics play a big role and these can change many times depending on the sizes of the teams, their strengths and who has good legs on the day.
“Also, the weather is very cold at the moment and there has been snow and a lot of rainfall. Coming from SA we are not used to such conditions so that will be a challenge on its own.”
He felt excited to race in Italy and said it was one of the most beautiful countries in the world and the people were “super friendly”.
“It’s one of my favourite destinations and their cycling culture is palpable, so it’s a dream to take part here.”