Shelley Gautier Caps Historic Perfect 2018 Season with UCI Award
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 www.sgpsf.ca. – 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.