June 07, 2013 (Merano, Italy) – The 2013 UCI Para-Cycling Road World Cup started today, and the new Canadian women’s tandem comprised of Robbi Weldon (37, Thunder Bay, ON) and Emilie Roy (26, Bromont, QC) took no time to illustrate its potential, taking the victory in their first race together in Merano, Italy.
This past off-season, Cycling Canada opted to combine two of its strongest athletes on one tandem with the hopes of maintaining the tradition of winning in the women’s tandem category, and this first day of racing proved it to be a very fruitful decision.
Weldon, a decorated Paralympian who won gold in the road race at the 2012 Paralympic Games in London, is now teamed up with Roy, who piloted Geneviève Ouellette in the last Paralympic Games cycle.
Roy is no stranger to success as well, finishing fourth in the road race at the Paralympic Games with Ouellette, involved in the final sprint for the bronze medal. The two of them won multiple medals at UCI World Cup and World Championships together.
The two are racing for the first time together at the World Cup level this weekend in Italy, as the new Paralympic cycle begins. As results of this first race demonstrated, this tandem could be a force to reckon with on the world stage, and could continue the tradition of winning set by the tandem of Weldon and Olympian Lyne Bessette, who retired after the Games.
In its first race as a tandem, the new duo rode an individual time trial race, and posted a time of 35:36.5 after 22.9 kilometers of racing. The Great Britain tandem of Lora Turnham and pilot Fiona Duncan came second, 8.54 seconds slower than the Canadians.
“This new tandem could be very strong, right from the beginning, as we saw it today. Although it is very hard to replace an experienced and proven rider such as Lyne Bessette, Emilie Roy possesses all the right qualities and race experiences to have an immediate impact. She has piloted tandems in the past, both on the road and on the track, and we are thrilled to see the new tandem join their skills in racing situations this weekend,” said Arnaud Litou, Para-cycling Program Supervisor at Cycling Canada.
Weldon has had a quick rise to stardom since transitioning to para-cycling, winning multiple World Cup and World Championships titles in her early cycling years.
“Robbi is a well-rounded athlete with exhaustive multi-sport experience. She has adapted very quickly to para-cycling after retiring from her illustrious cross country skiing career, and immediately became a contender at cycling races worldwide,” explained Litou.
The road race will be the next step for the tandem, on Sunday.
Only the tandem of Weldon and Roy from Canada are attending this opening World Cup event of the 2013 calendar, and the full Canadian Para-cycling team will regroup next weekend for the second World Cup event, in Spain.