World Cup race and World Championships scheduled in nearby Québec this August

Hawkesbury para-cyclist Joey Desjardins is enjoying his first ‘normal’ World Cup circuit in two years and is looking forward to competing in front of hometown fans, with both a World Cup race and the World Cycling Championships scheduled within driving distance of his hometown this summer.

“This year is the first year back with regular World Cups,” noted the local athlete, while back home in Hawkesbury after competing in World Cup events in Belgium and Germany in early May.

Desjardins, who placed 11th in the Handcycle 3 (H3) Time Trials and eighth in the Road Race in at the Paralympics in Beijing, China last summer – finishing as the top Canadian in both competitions – has been enjoying the break from travel and spending time with his family. During the break he has been training for his next event, the 2022 Cycling Canada Canadian Road Championships in Edmonton from June 23 to 27.

The Hawkesbury cyclist is particularly excited this year for the final World Cup Para-Cycling races, which will be held from August 4-7 in Québec City. The World Championships will follow in Baie Comeau, Québec, from August 11 to 14. Both events will offer rare chances for his family and friends to see Desjardins compete in a World Cup event close to home.

“Everybody’s coming – all of Europe – all of the teams are coming into Québec for two weeks,” says the Hawkesbury rider, who is thrilled to have more time with his family this summer, with all of the European competitions done.

As a world-class athlete Desjardins trains two to three hours per day, six days a week, with one day set aside to recover. With the European races completed, he is doing most of his training near home on local roads prior to the summer competitions.

“One of the things I like about cycling is I can be close to home when I need to – going camping with my family and being able to still train,” explained the married father of two young girls, aged six and four years. “I’m focusing on trying to balance that cycling/family lifestyle – still please my coach because I’m training and also be present at home to do stuff with Vanessa and the kids.”

At Round 1 of the 2022 Para-Cycling World Cup in Ostend, Belgium, held from May 5 to 8, Desjardins had a terrific run in the Men’s H3 Individual Road Race, finishing in seventh. In the Men’s H3 Time Trial, he finished 14th, while teammate Alex Hyndman placed in fifth. A week later, at the World Cup Round 2 in Zachery, Germany, from May 12 to 15, Desjardins took home 20th in the Men’s H3 Time Trial and then bounced back with a strong performance in the Road Race, coming home in 11th place.

The Team Relay event has returned to World Cup competition and Desjardins has added the race to his schedule in 2022, meaning he now competes in three different races at each World Cup event. In the Team Relay in Belgium, the Hawkesbury athlete, along with teammates Alex Hyndman and Matthew Kinnie finished seventh, and followed up with the same result in Germany.

During Team Relay race in Germany, Desjardins was involved in a heavy crash while leading off the event for the Canadian team.

“I’m the first guy, so it’s a sprint to the first corner and a Swiss rider just kind of took my front wheel too sharp in the corner,” he related. “I almost stuck it, but I went up on two wheels almost across the whole road and then it just tipped over and slid. My physio was across the street, ran over, flipped me back over and honestly, it was one of the fastest laps I ever did – I barely lost any time.”

“That was my first crash ever,” Desjardins added with a laugh. “I’ve been pretty good at keeping the wheels down.”

The local athlete is happy with his performances in the first two races. Although he would have liked to place higher, competition in the Men’s Handcycle 3 (H3) division is tough, with the category featuring the largest field in World Cup Para-Cycling.

“Our category is so competitive it’s crazy – we’re so close,” noted Desjardins, who tries to look at his results in perspective, referring to his 14th place finish in the Wold Cup Time Trials in Belgium. “My teammate was fifth and I was 39 seconds back of him and I got 14th.”

“Our times are so close in our category that on any given day you could be Top 5 or 20th.”

The start of the Men’s H3 Road Race at the Paralympics in Beijing. The class has the most competitors of any in para-cycling. Photo: Cycling Canada