By Nathan Engel
SOFIA, Bulgaria – American John Klish pedaled as hard as he could, hoping to explode past the four cyclists in front of him with few hundred meters left to go.
His legs would not cooperate with him, though, as he finished fifth in the men’s 100km road race with a time of 2:22:49.
“I have nothing but the highest praise for Klish,” cycling coach Paul Wood said. “For somebody like him to win third in the sprints, a fourth in the time trials with a broken chain and now fifth in the road race – that definitely says a lot about his abilities.”
Klish opened up the road race with the lead pack as they headed for the large hill on the first lap, pulling away from the pelotons. Klish and Italian counterpart Giorgio Carbone decided to conserve energy as they came over the hill, allowing eight other to join them.
Going into the second lap, four cyclists separated from the pack – Klish, Carbone, Russian Ivan Makarov, and Daniel Carruthers of New Zealand. As they tackled the hill, Thomas Smith of Great Britain came out of nowhere to join the pack as they pushed down into the final stretch.
Klish couldn’t keep up as the others slowly separated themselves down the final stretch. He finished fifth, just twenty seconds behind Makarov, who won the race with a time of 2:22:28, followed by Smith in second and Carbone in third.
Paul Wood kept up with Klish, offering reinforcement until the hill, when Wood fell behind and, feeling he had completed his duties as a player/coach, stepped aside with a DNF.
Carruthers initially won the race but was penalized by officials after they found him guilty of intentionally obstructing the path of the three cyclists behind him in the last few meters. He would officially finish in fourth place.
In the women’s 50km road race, on the same course, Lindsay Lorenz kept up with the lead pack — Renate Telser of Italy, Isabelle-Sophie Boberg of Germany and Long Hoi of Macau.
Much as in the men’s race, the women faced the hill and conquered it, pushing away from the pelotons. With just 200 meters left, Lorenz moved to the right to make a break for it, but her front wheel tangled with another cyclist’s, and Lorenz went down.
“I’m really disappointed that had to happen,” Lorenz said. “I was really ready to make a break for it and maybe even finish in the top three. But my bike just got caught up and I fell.”
Lorenz was able to recover and complete the race in fifth in 1:38:47. Ksenia Kalibina caught and passed Lorenz just before the finish line to take fourth. Telser won the race in 1:38:05, followed by Boberg and Hoi to round off the top three.
Raymonda Yeh finished seventh, a few minutes behind Lorenz.
She said she was pleased with her result.
“I’m proud of myself for finishing in seventh place. Especially considering that I only had one road race experience leading up to the Deaflympics,” Yeh said. “It wasn’t like I fell completely behind and made everybody wait for me – I was only two spots behind Lorenz.”
Klish and Lorenz will tackle the mountain course Thursday, and Wood is optimistic about Klish’s chances to bring home one more medal.
“Klish started biking in the mountain races in Colorado way before he got into to road cycling,” Wood said. “So that background should translate well onto the course tomorrow.”