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Paralympic champion Darren Hicks feels his preparation for Paris 2024 is well on track after a successful campaign at the Para-cycling World Cup event in Adelaide.

Hicks claimed the double, winning gold in the men’s Individual Time Trial C2 and Road Race C2, to spearhead a triumphant week for Australia, which finished atop the medal tally with 26 medals including 13 gold.

Hicks’ fellow Paralympic champion Paige Greco also won the double, taking out the women’s C3 events, and Emily Petricola won the women’s C4 Individual Time Trial. Meanwhile, Para-triathlon star Lauren Parker continued her rise in cycling with gold in both the women’s H3 events before she teamed with Alex Welsh and Grant Allen to win the Mixed Handcycling Team Relay.

Though Hicks would have preferred a deeper field, he was pleased with his performances.

“We executed well,” he said. “The TT was good as far as numbers go. It was quite calm compared to what the wind normally is out there, so the average speed was bonkers. I was around 47 kph, which is the fastest TT I’ve ever done.

“The ‘roadie’ was fantastic. The plan was always to let the bunch handle things for the first few laps and then on the third or fourth lap hit them in what I thought was the best spot for me and worst for them, and try and get away solo. It ended up being exactly what happened. It was pretty cool to do that at home and have my family and friends there watching.”

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Few were watching when Hicks won the Time Trial at the Covid-affected Tokyo Paralympics after he had earlier claimed silver on the track in the Individual Pursuit. That will change at Paris 2024, but Hicks is aiming for the same results.

“I’d like to do exactly what I did in Tokyo,” he said.

“If I can pull out a silver on the track, it would be amazing because Alex (Léauté), the young French rider, is extremely fast and basically unbeatable on the track. But in the Road TT, I believe he’s by no means unbeatable. We’ll see if we can bring home another silver in the IP and make it a double in the Road TT.

“That’s the dream. If it happens I’ll be very content with my career. If I can do that, it’ll blow my mind. I can’t even put into words what that would be like.

“I believe it’s possible, it’s going to take everything to line up for it to happen. But there’s no reason why I can’t.”

So far, so good. Hicks is aiming to race at World Cup Rounds 2 and 3 in Europe later this year, return home for a final stretch of training and head to Paris after the team is finalised in June.

“If we can hold this form, get a fair bit of training in the legs, freshen up and do all the one-percenters leading into Paris, with any luck we’ll get that exceptional performance we’re looking for,” he said.

Australia’s Medal results

Mixed Handcycling Team Relay
1st – Alexander Welsh, Lauren Parker, Grant Allen

Individual Time Trial
1st – Kaitlyn Schurmann – Women C1
1st – Paige Greco – Women C3
1st – Emily Petricola – Women C4
1st – Alana Forster – Women C5
1st – Lauren Parker – Women H3
1st – Darren Hicks – Men C2
2nd – David Nicholas – Men C3
2nd – Emma Mickle – Women C3
2nd – Alistair Donohoe – Men C5
3rd – Madelene McNeil and Laura Auberson (pilot) – Women B
3rd – Amanda Reid – Women C2
3rd – Meg Lemon – Women C4
3rd – Kieran Murphy and Michael Freiberg (pilot) – Men B
3rd – Stuart Jones – Men T2

Road Race
1st – Kaitlyn Schurmann – Women C1
1st – Paige Greco – Women C3
1st – Emily Petricola – Women C4
1st – Lauren Parker – Women H3
1st – Darren Hicks – Men C2
1st – Alistair Donohoe – Men C5
2nd – Amanda Reid – Women C2
3rd – Emma Mickle – Women C3
3rd – Meg Lemon – Women C4
3rd – David Nicholas – Men C3
3rd – Kieran Murphy and Michael Freiberg (pilot) – Men B

By: David Sygall, Paralympics Australia
Posted: 19 January 2024
Image: UCI / Jean-Baptiste Benavent