images of Cycling

Paralympic Sports


Originally developed as a sport for blind athletes, who first competed using tandem bicycles, Cycling is now one of the largest and most varied sports on the Paralympic programme.


Road Cycling became part of the Paralympic programme at the Stoke Mandeville & New York 1984 Games, with Track events first included at Atlanta 1996. The popularity of the sport with both athletes and spectators is reflected in the fact that 50 gold medals in Cycling will be awarded at Tokyo 2020, with a total of 230 athletes competing.

Athletes with physical or visual impairments compete in Cycling, divided into four classes: impairment to all four limbs (C), use of upper half of body only (H), cerebral palsy (T), and visual impairments (B). Finer divisions exist to account for the degree of impairment and events are split by gender.

The rules of Paralympic Cycling are similar to Cycling but with modifications to cycles in order to accommodate impairments, making the cycles used in each class different. In C class events an ordinary competition two-wheeled cycle is used; in H class, a handcycle is used, which is pedalled by hand; T class athletes use a tricycle; and B class uses a two-wheeled tandem cycle, with a sighted ‘pilot’ riding in front.

The Track programme comprises events for athletes in classes B and C, including time trials, pursuit races and team sprints, demanding acceleration and absolute speed in order to win over a short distance.

Road events include time trials, road races and an H2-5 mixed team relay, and require the careful timing of pace changes and tactics to preserve energy over long distances.

International Federation: Union Cycliste Internationale(Open in a new window)

Event Programme


  • C1-2-3 Kilo (Men)
  • C1-2-3 500m (Women)
  • C1-5 Team Sprint (Mixed)
  • C4-5 Kilo (Men)
  • C4-5 500m (Women)
  • C1 Pursuit (Men)
  • C2 Pursuit (Men)
  • C3 Pursuit (Men)
  • C4 Pursuit (Men/Women)
  • C5 Pursuit (Men/Women)
  • C1-2-3 Pursuit (Women)
  • B Kilo (Men/Women)
  • B Pursuit (Men/Women)


  • H2 Road Race (Men)
  • H3 Road Race (Men)
  • H4 Road Race (Men)
  • H5 Road Race (Men/Women)
  • H2-3-4 Road Race (Women)
  • C1-2-3 Road Race (Men/Women)
  • C4-5 Road Race (Men/Women)
  • B Road Race (Men/Women)
  • T1-2 Road Race (Men/Women)
  • H1 Time Trial (Men)
  • H2 Time Trial (Men)
  • H3 Time Trial (Men)
  • H4 Time Trial (Men)
  • H5 Time Trial (Men)
  • H1-2-3 Time Trial (Women)
  • H4-5 Time Trial (Women)
  • C1 Time Trial (Men)
  • C2 Time Trial (Men)
  • C3 Time Trial (Men)
  • C4 Time Trial (Men/Women)
  • C5 Time Trial (Men/Women)
  • C1-2-3 Time Trial (Women)
  • B Time Trial (Men/Women)
  • T1-2 Time Trial (Men/Women)
  • H2-5 Team Relay (Mixed)

Map of the Road Race

Road Race (Men/Women)・Time Trial (Men/Women)・Team Relay (Mixed)


Pedal-powered to the max

Cycling players

C class is for athletes with impairments to all four limbs such as amputation or paralysis and is subdivided into classes C1-C5 according to the severity of the impairment. Competition two-wheeled cycles are used, but changes to the shape of the handlebars or making pedals accessible for artificial legs are allowed for safety reasons, according to the needs of the athlete.

H class is for athletes with impairments such as amputation or paralysis of the lower limbs or motor function impairments and is subdivided into classes H1-H5. A three-wheeled handcycle is used. There are two types: a reclined position type and a kneeling type which is pedalled while leaning forward. The former are used by H1-H4 athletes, the latter by H5 athletes.

T class is for athletes with cerebral palsy or severe limb impairments and is subdivided into classes T1 and T2. Tricycles with good stability are used to aid balance. Special techniques for cornering and pursuit are required for the wide-wheeled handcycle and tricycle.

B class is for athletes with visual impairments. Tandem cycles are used, with a sighted athlete riding in front and the athlete with the visual impairment riding behind. Both riders use pedals and must synchronise accelerations and decelerations for corners and pace changes. A loss of coordination could be the difference between winning and losing.

Although the gold medallist is always the athlete who crosses the line first or has the fastest time, a feature of Paralympic Cycling is ‘factoring’. This is used where multiple classes compete against each other and is calculated by multiplying actual track or road times by a factor defined for each class. As an illustration, if C3, C4 and C5 athletes were to compete together, factors of (for example) 100 per cent for C5 athlete times, 98 per cent for C4 times and 93 per cent for C3 times might be applied to calculate the fastest time and determine the order of winners.


Racing for gold

Cycling players

Athletes from Europe, North America and Australia, where two-wheeled sports are thriving, usually feature strongly on the Paralympic podium.

A number of athletes have moved into Cycling from other sports, few more notably than Italian Formula 1 motor racing star Alex Zanardi, who switched to Cycling after losing both legs in a crash. He made a memorable Paralympic debut at London 2012, taking two golds and one silver medal in H class events, followed by another two golds and a silver at Rio 2016.

After winning three gold medals at Rio 2016, Sarah Storey cemented her position as Great Britain's most decorated female Paralympian.

Since making her debut as a swimmer aged 14 at Barcelona 1992, Storey has won 25 medals, including 14 golds, eight silvers and three bronze, at seven Paralympic Games. She switched to Cycling in 2005 and has competed with distinction in both Road and Track events. She also competed in the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, finishing eighth in the Individual Pursuit.



In class B events for athletes with visual impairments, the front, sighted rider on the tandem is called the ‘pilot’. What is the athlete seated behind popularly called?


A:The ‘stoker’.
A stoker is a person who throws firewood or coal onto a fire, such as in a locomotive engine. The name is given because this athlete focuses on pedalling and provides most of the propulsive force.

As of 1 Dec. 2018

Competition Venues

  • Izu Velodrome
  • Fuji International Speedway

Olympic Sports

Paralympic Sports