Shel­ley Gau­tier Caps His­toric Per­fect 2018 Sea­son with UCI Award

Pedal Magazine - - Out in Front -

Cana­dian para-cy­clist Shel­ley Gau­tier has had a his­toric year for the record books. Not only did she win every Union

Cy­cliste In­ter­na­tionale (UCI) cy­cling race she en­tered in 2018, end­ing up with a per­fect sea­son – a Cana­dian first – but she also capped it off with a Para-cy­cling Award at the 2018 UCI Cy­cling Gala in Guilin, China.

On Nov. 18, Gau­tier will cel­e­brate her achieve­ment at a spe­cial event in Toronto, Ont., where she will be pre­sented with her UCI award, as well as Cy­cling Canada’s in­au­gu­ral Per­fect Sea­son of the Year Award. In ad­di­tion, there will be a screen­ing of an episode of the new TV show “High­way to Health,” fea­tur­ing Gau­tier.

“I mean, it’s just amaz­ing that I did it,” she says. “I had a lot of help and worked re­ally hard. I am al­ways ner­vous for the World Cups, and at the World Cham­pi­onships last year in Italy, I fell, so I was ner­vous.”

In Au­gust, the Toronto na­tive won her 14th World ti­tle at the UCI Para-cy­cling Road World Cham­pi­onships in Ma­ni­ago, Italy. Gau­tier is un­de­feated at the Worlds since 2010, and, yet de­spite her per­fect sea­son be­ing on the line, Gau­tier tried not to think too far ahead.

“I take one race at a time and just go out and try to do my best, and that’s what I did,” she says. “It wasn’t un­til af­ter­wards when I sat down and re­al­ized I had a per­fect sea­son.”

Back in 2001, Gau­tier suf­fered a se­vere head in­jury while moun­tain bik­ing in Ver­mont and fell into a coma, sub­se­quently de­vel­op­ing hemi­pare­sis on the right side of her body. She com­peted in dis­abled sail­ing and rock climb­ing be­fore mov­ing on to para-cy­cling, which be­gan by watch­ing a race in Que­bec with Louis Bar­beau, the di­rec­tor-gen­eral of the Fédéra­tion québé­coise des sports cy­clistes (FQSC), who be­came pres­i­dent of the UCI’s Para-Cy­cling Com­mis­sion.

“He thought that be­cause a guy rac­ing ended up wip­ing out in the rain that I’d never come back,” re­calls Gau­tier. “But it ended up that he loaned me a trike, and I got into para-cy­cling that way.”

In 2009, she be­came the first fe­male T-1 rider on the Cana­dian Para-Cy­cling Team and hasn’t looked back. In ad­di­tion to her many UCI World Cham­pi­onships, Gau­tier has also won a sil­ver at the 2011 Para­pan Amer­i­can Games and 2015 Para­pan Amer­i­can Games in the mixed time-trial events.

She com­peted at the 2012 Sum­mer Par­a­lympics in Lon­don, Eng­land and failed to win a medal, but re­turned and won bronze at the 2016 Sum­mer Par­a­lympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Gau­tier com­petes on a Spe­cial­ized Ruby with a con­ver­sion unit on the back to make it a tri­cy­cle. Spe­cial­ized is one of her spon­sors, as well as Shi­mano (she has Di2 gears on her com­pe­ti­tion bike to make chang­ing gears eas­ier), Terry Bi­cy­cle Sad­dles (for more than 10 years), and Duke’s Cy­cle in Toronto, where head tech­ni­cian and bike-fit­ter Lorne An­der­son tunes her bike.

“I’m so grate­ful to all of my spon­sors, as I couldn’t have done it with­out them. They re­ally make the world of dif­fer­ence at every com­pe­ti­tion,” Gau­tier said.

Along the way, she started the Shel­ley Gau­tier Para-Sport Foun­da­tion, which pro­vides recre­ational equip­ment for per­sons liv­ing with dis­abil­i­ties so they can be­come more in­te­grated into their com­mu­ni­ties. The foun­da­tion, run by Alan Greer, works with com­mu­nity or­ga­ni­za­tions in ex­ist­ing recre­ational fa­cil­i­ties, and to date, it has loaned more than $150,000 of para-cy­cling equip­ment.

And she’s not done yet. “Start­ing Dec. 1, I’m go­ing to be back to work on get­ting a dif­fer­ent-colour metal in Tokyo,” she says. “I won a bronze medal in Rio, and I want a dif­fer­ent colour.” For more on Gau­tier and her Para-Sport Foun­da­tion, visit­ – RJ

Toronto para-cy­clist Shel­ley Gau­tier, be­came the first Cana­dian to claim a per­fect sea­son, win­ning every UCI race she en­tered in 2018, along with the World ti­tle and a UCI Para-cy­cling Award.

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