Competition at the Highest Levels



High speeds, long distances, relentless competition. In Paralympic cycling, athletes race the clock or each other -- and they race to win.
Cycling is open to athletes with a variety of disabilities. Those who are visually impaired or blind compete on tandem bicycles with a sighted teammate. Those with cerebral palsy compete using standard racing bikes or, in some classes, tricycles. Amputees and athletes with other locomotor disabilities compete in road races using cycles specifically constructed for their needs; an example is handcycling, for athletes who normally use a wheelchair.

Paralympic cycling is also divided between road and track events. It is not an adaptive sport: Paralympians compete under the same rules and regulations as Olympic cycling, and race at distances from 5 km to 65 km. Track cycling events include speed trials as short as 200 meters, time trials, relay races, and individual pursuits.

America’s 2008 Gold Medalists:
Barbara Buchan – Women’s Individual Time Trial (road), Women’s Individual Pursuit (track)
Oz Sanchez – Men’s Individual Time Trial (road)
Karissa Whitsell and Mackenzie Woodring (pilot) – Women’s Individual Time Trial (road)
Jennifer Schuble – Women’s 500m Time Trial (track)

Top Contenders:
Great Britain has strong teams, both for men and women, winning 17 golds at Beijing and enjoying home advantage in 2012.
Other top teams: Team USA, Australia, France.

Paralympics 2012 Competition:
Road Cycling: Sept. 5-Sept. 9
Track Cycling: Aug. 30-Sept. 2

Athlete Classifications

Cycling is open to athletes with cerebral palsy, visual impairment, amputations, spinal cord injury, and other disabilities. It has one of the most complex classification systems.

Athletes who are blind or visually impaired compete with no classification system. They ride tandem with a sighted “pilot.”

Athletes who cannot compete on standard, leg-driven cycles use handcycles and tricycles. Handcycle athletes are divided into four classes: Handcycle 1 (H1) is for athletes with severe loss of trunk stability and leg function, and severely impaired upper limb function. Athletes with higher function and stability are in classes H2 and H3, and H4 is for athletes who can kneel on the handcycle.

Tricycle athletes are divided into two classes: Tricycle 1 (T1) is for athletes with severe locomotor disfunction and insufficient balance for cycling. T2 is for athletes with more moderate loss of stability and function.

Athletes who can use a standard cycle, including amputees, athletes with spinal cord injuries, and other injuries, compete in five groups:

Class Disability


Cyclists with upper or lower limb disabilities and most severe neurological disfunction.


Riders with upper or lower limb impairments and moderate to severe neurological disfunction.


Cyclists with upper or lower limb disabilities and moderate neurological disfunction.


Cyclists with upper or lower limb impairments and low-level neurological impairment.


Cyclists with least impairment, including single amputation and minimal neurological disfunction.

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