Joey Desjardins para-cycling career is on a roll. Well, actually, it’s more like it’s on three wheels bolting full-tilt down a straightaway and about to set a personal best record—but hey, close enough.
Fresh off the Para-Cycling Road World Cup, held earlier this month in Emmen, Netherlands, where he placed 8th in the time trial and 14th in the road race, Desjardins is closer than ever to achieving top tier status with Cycling Canada.
Desjardins is in his 4th year with Cycling Canada and is classified as a “Tier Three NextGen” para-cyclist—just two levels below the top category of “Tier One”. To qualify for Tier Two, he must achieve the “A Standard”. This means he needs to hit a 39.86 km average on a 15 km time trial. He says he’s confident he can hit the level before the end of the summer.
“I’m pushing [my power] more than I did last year,” Desjardins explains. “I’m technically there. I just have to actually put up the numbers.”
To reach Tier One status, he needs to make top three at a worlds event.
Desjardins next big test comes at the World Championships, set for August 31 in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa. The races will be a prime opportunity for Desjardins to achieve the A Standard.
Desjardins says he is happy with his results from the World Cup, but still, his desire to improve keeps him wanting more.
“For the time trial, my coach told me to aim for top 15. So I got 14th place.We always think we can push a little bit farther, but we’ll leave that at that.”
His 8th place finish in the road race was surprising—even to him. Making the top 10 automatically qualifies Desjardins for the World Championship in South Africa.
Beyond the race results, this year’s World Cup was special for an altogether different reason: not only did Joey’s wife, Vanessa, travel to races to support him, but so did their 1 year-old daughter, Stella. Desjardins says their presence gave him extra motivation to perform.
“It definitely gives me an extra push. Seeing them at the start line and the finish line is something you don’t get everyday,” Desjardins says.
Reflecting on the World Cup, as well as the other trips and events he has partaken in, Desjardins remarks on the unique opportunities his sport has provided.
“[With] all of the things I’ve experienced over the 8 years since my injury… I have to pinch myself. I would have never experienced any of this.”
Desjardins permanently injured his spinal cord in a dirt-biking accident in 2009, when he was 22 years old.
Over the next few weeks, he will be selling t-shirts to help fund the trip to South Africa.
To catch more of our conversation with Joey, tune into The Review’s Up-and-Comers podcast here.