Cycling is a relatively new sport for Paralympians, with athletes with vision impairment the first group to take part. Road cycling made its Paralympic debut in 1984, with track cycling to follow in 1996. Cycling is now the third biggest sport at the Paralympic Games and in London.
In road-cycling, athletes use bicycles, tandems, hand-cycles and tricycles, depending on their ability and classification. There are three main events in road cycling - road race, time trial and mixed team relay across the different classes.
In the road race, all athletes start together and the first athlete or team to cross the line is the winner.
In the time trial, athletes start at 60-second intervals. The athlete to complete the course in the fastest time is the winner.
The team relay events are conducted as mass start events on a looped course. Each team consists of three riders, with no baton or other physical contact required to enact the relays. The race will be six laps long, with each rider doing two laps.
At the London Paralympics
In London, 225 athletes (155 men, 70 women) are competing in both track and road cycling. There are 32 medal events in track cycling. Australia has a team of 15 (12 athletes, three pilots) competing in both track and road cycling.
Wednesday 5 - Saturday 8 September, 2012
Brands Hatch, Kent
Road - road race, time trial, team relay
Factoring in combined class events
In some cycling events, riders from different classifications compete in the one event for one set of medals. The results are determined using a factoring system which is a mathematical formula that is applied to each rider’s times to calculate the final results.
The athlete with the lowest times after the factoring has been applied is the winner. The system has been determined by tracking many athletes’ performances over a range of years including world rankings and results from benchmark events such as Paralympic Games and World Championships.
In London, some events that will use the factoring system include the women’s C1- 3 road race and the mixed tricycle time trial event.
Combined class events
In some cases, where there is not an event available for a particular classification, athletes may have the option of competing up a class with riders with less impairment. For these events there is not a points or factoring system used to determine the results. It is simply a matter of who rides the fastest wins.
In London, the combined class events include the men’s C1-3 road race.
Cycling is open to athletes with a:
- Vision impairment who have little or no vision
- Physical impairment such as cerebral palsy, limb loss; joint restrictions, spinal damage or nerve injury
Riders receive a class depending on the type of bike they are able to ride.
CLICK HERE for a detailed explanation of the different cycling classes.
How can I get a classification?
You can request a classification using the APC Get classified form.
Rules & Equipment
Road cycling takes place on public roads, which are closed to traffic.
Bicycles, tricycles, tandems and handcycles must conform to the technical regulations of the Union Cyclists International (UCI) and IPC cycling rules.
Tandem - for athletes with vision impairment. The athlete sits on the back of the tandem with a sighted pilot riding in front.
Tricycle - is used by athletes whose balance does not allow them to ride a two-wheeled bicycle
Handcycle - pedals are operated by hand
Bicycle - is used by all other athletes, often with modifications for the specific athlete
Helmet - during competition, athletes must wear a hard shell protective helmet to a recognised international standard. The helmet colour is standardised depending on the class of the athlete (red, blue, green or white).