Swift Carbon Racing rider William Bjergfelt hopes to encourage different athletes “to imagine something is feasible” after turning into the primary para-cyclist to compete within the Tour of Britain.
Bjergfelt, from Somerset, was concerned in a head-on collision with a automobile in 2015 which left him with a bleed on the mind and his proper leg shattered into 25 items.
His leg was reconstructed with three titanium plates however he was informed on the time he would by no means experience a motorcycle once more, not to mention race one.
Six years on, now aged 42, Bjergfelt made his Tour of Britain debut this yr, turning into the second oldest participant the race has ever had and likewise the primary para-cyclist to take to the beginning line.
“I am form of pinching myself each morning, simply making an attempt to inform myself that I am not dreaming and I’m really right here. I’ve needed to race this since I used to be a child, I can bear in mind the times of the Milk Race (the Tour’s earlier incarnation),” Bjergfelt mentioned.
“In 2011 I got here very near driving however received flicked on the final minute, two days earlier than the beginning of the Tour of Britain. There was a part of me that thought perhaps my probability was misplaced.
“2015 I had a extremely good yr and I would kind of provisionally agreed a contract for a staff for 2016, so I believed perhaps I will get an opportunity if I am adequate.
“However then the accident occurred while the staff I agreed to experience for was racing the Tour of Britain.”
Previous to his 2015 accident, Bjergfelt was a mountain biker who competed within the XCO World Cup sequence, however he was drawn to the highway after and commenced his para-cycling profession with the assist of British Biking. He now competes within the C5 self-discipline for athletes who meet the minimal impairment standards.
In 2019 he then joined British Continental squad Swift Carbon – a 3rd tier UCI staff. As a domestique, Bjergfelt’s position is to assist his team-mates fairly than race for himself, with the extent of racing expertise he features throughout the UK and round Europe additionally boosting his ambitions in para-cycling.
All of the whereas, Bjergfelt additionally balances his racing with a profession at an aerospace agency. It is a stark distinction to the vast majority of his rivals on the Tour of Britain, corresponding to highway world champion Julian Alaphilippe, Olympic medallist Wout van Aert or Tour de France stage document holder Mark Cavendish.
Inspiration to others
Bjergfelt will not be the primary para athlete to race for a commerce staff. Sarah Storey, who turned Nice Britain’s most adorned Paralympian ever this summer time, raced incessantly in non-para races, most notably for an eponymous squad from 2018. But illustration of para riders stays slight among the many skilled biking peloton.
“That is one of many massive issues that I wish to come out of this actually. I wish to encourage folks to imagine in themselves and imagine something is feasible. That is one of many massive issues that I wish to get throughout for folks,” Bjergfelt mentioned.
“I am extremely pleased with it. For the primary 20 minutes of Wednesday’s stage (stage 4) I used to be chatting with Mark Cavendish and telling him what a legend I believed he was, that he had come again from kind of being on the verge of ending his profession final yr, to this yr profitable 4 levels of the Tour de France.
“We had been chatting about myself as effectively, and he was like ‘mate, you are the legend’ and I used to be like ‘no, no you might be’. We had been simply laughing. You could not write it – it was identical to, pinch me.”
A second break
Bjergfelt’s journey to this September’s dwelling tour is much more outstanding when contemplating he additionally broke his left leg in April. The harm ended his hopes of competing in Tokyo on the Paralympics this summer time, however nonetheless it solely took three weeks earlier than he was again on his bike coaching, after having pins and plates put into his leg.
He competed in June’s Para-cycling World Championships within the C5 time trial and highway race, ending ninth and 15th, earlier than concentrating on preparing for Sunday’s Tour of Britain begin in Cornwall.
He showcased his credentials on the head of the race as a part of the five-rider breakaway on stage two in Devon.
“I simply love the game. In an odd manner it form of saved my life,” Bjergfelt added.
“I’ve already agreed with British Biking to proceed on to Paris (Paralympics 2024). I’ve received unfinished enterprise there, I would wish to go to the Paralympics and are available out of it with three gold medals to indicate them what I am able to. That can undoubtedly be a aim sooner or later.
“On the identical time, Malcolm Elliott is the oldest individual to race the Tour of Britain in the mean time at 49. I need that title off him. I will hold going, see if I can get it off him.”
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