Para-cycling was first developed by visually-impaired cyclists who first competed using tandem bicycles, and it was introduced as a Paralympic sport in Seoul in 1988.
Today, in addition to visually-impaired athletes, the sport includes those with cerebral palsy, amputations and other physical impairments. Athletes race on bicycles, tricycles, tandem or hand cycles based on their impairment.
The competition program includes sprints, individual pursuits, the 1,000-metre time trial, road races and road time trials for both individuals and teams.
Cycling events are open to all athletes with physical and visual disabilities. However, not all events are offered to all athletes. Example, tandem competitors (blind and partially sighted athletes) compete in track and road events while athletes with cerebral pasly only compete in road events. Competitors are classified into 4 broad categories with separate events for each:
1) Handbikes with 4 sub-categories (H1, H2, H3, H4)
2)Tandem (stoker + Pilot) (B)
3) Tricycles with 2 sub-categories (T1-T2)
4) Regular bikes (Upper or/and Lower body disability, amputation, Cerebral Palsy) / with 5 sub-categories(C1, C2, C3, C4, C5)
Click here to download the UCI Para-cycling Classification Guide (PDF)
A Functional Classification system is used, where an athlete's functional ability for handcycling is assessed, based on the level of spinal cord lesion, or corresponding disability. Athletes are classified in race dress with race equipment, using medical documentation of the athlete's disability, functional tests based on the requirements of the sport and observation in training and competition.