Para-cyclist to kick off Tour de France individual time trial

In stage 11 of the Tour de France on Wednesday, racers will go up against the clock in an individual time trial. One by one, the riders will cover 33km from Avranches - Mont-Saint-Michel. Six-time Paralympic Champion Jiri Jezek of the Czech Republic will be a special guest of the Tour, being the first rider to start the day's time trial.

"I will race as a cyclist, as a para-cyclist and in the name of all para-cyclists," said Jezek, according to the UCI.

"I will do my best to represent them well. My goal is just to enjoy it and of course I will do my best to show the high level of para-cycling. You get this kind of opportunity once in your life, so I want to shine. On the other hand, I am still missing one leg and of course that will play a role."

The 38-year-old Jezek turned pro in 2004 and has won six Paralympic gold medals since 2000. Each year, he logs 32,000km in training.  He lost his right leg below the knee in a car accident when he was 11.

"I think (on Wednesday) that power output will be crucial," he said. "I would prefer it more rolling, more technical, but I'm super happy just to be there and I'm sure I will love it. The Tour de France is the most prestigious cycling event on the planet. I am very thankful to represent the para-cycling society there and I hope to do it in style."

Jezek leads the UCI Para-cycling Road World Cup, but is in the midst of a mid-season break. He said he has been preparing for Wednesday's effort in a similar way to how he prepared for the 2012 London Paralympics, where he won gold.

He admitted to being both excited and nervous at the same time ahead of Wednesday's time trial.



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