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Bruno de Lima/MPIX/CPBHistory

Practiced since the 1980s, at the beginning, only visually impaired athletes took part in Paralympic cycling events. In the 1984 Paralympics in New York, athletes with cerebral palsy and amputees were allowed to compete and at the 1988 Games in Seoul, the road event was included in the official programme. However, it was only at the 1996 Games in Atlanta that impairments started being classified in categories. The velodrome was included in the programme in that year and in Sydney 2000, handcycling events were held for the first time.

Brazil made its debut in the sport in Barcelona 1992 with Rivaldo Gonçalves Martins. The athlete was the first in Brail to be crowned world champion, in Belgium 1994. Despite this, Brazil has yet to win a medal in cycling at the Paralympic Games.

In order for the sport to be included in the Paralympic programme, some adaptations were made to meet rules established by the International Cycling Union (UCI). For example, athletes with cerebral palsy may use conventional bikes or tricycles, according to their disability grade. Visually impaired athletes cycle on a two-person bicycle, known as a tandem, as they are guided by another person sitting in the front seat. On the other hand, as the name implies, handcycling uses hand operated cycles and is aimed at wheelchair users.


LC – Locomotor cycling (athletes with locomotor impairment)
- LC1: Athletes with upper limb impairments;
- LC2: Athletes with impairment on one leg, use of prosthesis allowed;
- LC3: Athletes that cycle using one leg, prosthesis not allowed;
- LC4: Athletes with a higher disability grade, generally having an amputated limb.

Visually impaired cyclist

Paraplegic athletes

The events

- Velodrome: oval 250 to 325 metre long track.  They are all sprint events
- Road: longer cycling events, up to 120km
- Time trial: cyclists leave with a minute between them and need to finish in the shortest time possible


Human engine
Former Formula 1 driver Alessandro Zanardi from Italy changed fast cars for the bicycle, starting to compete in Paralympic cycling in 2007. After racing for teams like Jordan, Minardi, Lotus and Williams, Zanardi also raced in the CART category, finishing several times on the podium. However, in 2001 he almost died in a serious accident at the Lausitz oval track in Germany. The driver had to be revived seven times and had two legs amputated.  He returned to sport at the Paralympics and took some medals home. In London 2012, Zanardi was the competition’s big attraction, winning two gold medals and a silver. Two years earlier, the former driver had already won the Paralympic Marathon in Rome.

See also


Brazilian Cycling Federation (CBC)
International Cycling Federation (UCI):