The Inspirational Story Behind Jess Gallagher’s Triumphant Paralympics Campaign

by | Oct 22, 2020

Jessica Gallagher has competed in the Paralympics in not one but three very unique sports; athletics, alpine skiing and track cycling. This year she will head to the Rio 2016 Paralympic Summer Games as a track cyclist.

 

The summer and winter paralympian was diagnosed with cone dystrophy, a rare eye disease in her final year of school which caused her to lose much of her eyesight.

 

Jess is legally blind so explains that she will ride a tandem bike “I have a sighted pilot and they steer the bike, so they steer the front and I’m on the back. It’s similar in essence but there’s a lot less risk involved with the cycling but then the type of person that’s required as a pilot on the bike is very different to when skiing.”

 

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“The world record will be broken in Rio so we’re hoping that it’s us”

Calling Jess’ training regime intense would be a major understatement. Her weekly regime includes two track sessions, three strength conditioning sessions and three to four ergo sessions, on top of a few road rides.

Swapping sports has had a huge effect on Jess’ body. “One of the biggest things for me individually was cycling’s just altered my body shape significantly so I’ve dropped six kilos and despite being as strong as I was as a skier I’m actually stronger now.”

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In cycling being as lean as possible is essential as it heavily relies on as the heavier you are the more power you need. Good nutrition is essential Jess follows a very clean diet which is mostly high in proteins and low in carbohydrates. “Being mindful of what you eat is really important.”

Jess also has many non-sporting endeavours she is a board director at Vision 2020 Australia and is an osteopath for the Melbourne City soccer team – talk about keeping busy!

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Your First Look At The Tour de France Femmes 2022 Route

For decades now, cyclists and their fans have been clambering for a women’s Tour de France. While the sport offers numerous events in the realm of road to gravel racing for female cyclists, they all tend to fall short to the kind of European stage race that has continued to attract the best competitors in the men’s field and, for those watching at home, left them inspired to purchase a bike and get outdoors. It’s safe to say that for many who aren’t even familiar with cycling, the Tour de France is well known. The event is bigger than the sport itself, having produced some of the most well known names in sport, even if controversy continues to surround them and the race itself which has long been plagued by doping scandals. Even so, the fact remains that few races possess the same kind of frantic energy, prestige and wonder as the Tour and not surprisingly, the sport’s female stars have fought for years to see a lasting, prestigious women’s stage race run alongside the men’s Tour. 

Earlier this year, it was confirmed that a women’s edition of the race will go ahead in 2022 that closely follows after the men’s race. According to Tour de France organiser, Christian Prudhomme, the women’s race will begin after the men’s Tour. As Prudhomme told The Guardian, “It will take place next year, that’s certain. It would have happened this year if it had not been for the Covid-19 pandemic, obviously, and above all if the Tokyo Olympics had not been after the [men’s] Tour, so the best riders may not be available. But the decision has been taken. There will be a Tour de France femmes in 2022 following closely after the [men’s] Tour.”

Now, the sport’s female athletes have been granted their first look at the 2022 race route which was recently unveiled in the Palais des Congres in Paris by newly appointed race director Marion Rousse. Even the unveiling was significant, with the elite women sitting alongside the peloton’s elite men in the Paris auditorium for the first time. It marks a shift in the landscape of cycling, one that puts women on an equal playing field as their male counterparts and signals a long-awaited leap in the profile of women’s cycling. Rousse described the “honour” of being the director of the women’s Tour de France, adding that: “The women’s races we have now are jewels to cherish.”

As the unveiling depicts, the women will begin on the Champs-Elysees before the route then zigzags east towards the Vosges Mountains and the Haut-Rhin, taking in sprint stages, gravel tracks that wind through the vineyards of Champagne, before ascending to high-altitudes in the final weekend. It will culminate in the 24 per cent gravel climb to Super Planche des Belles Filles. 

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“We wanted to start from Paris,” Rousse said of the women’s Tour. “With only eight stages, we couldn’t go down to the Alps or the Pyrenees, the transfers would be too long.” It was also announced that the women’s Tour de France champion would pocket a staggering 50,000 euro (approximately $78,190 AUD), with a further pot of $312,760 for Tour stage winners. 

Lizzie Deignan, winner of the inaugural women’s Paris-Roubaix this month, spoke of the announcement as being “an important day for cycling, not just women’s cycling.”

“It is a key indicator that the sport is still progressing as we are now able to compete in the most well-known bike race in the world. I think the organisers have done a really good job preparing the route for this edition.”

Deignan went on to add: “It will showcase the best that women’s cycling has to offer with a stage suited to every type of rider, something I was really hoping for. The route has been designed to offer entertaining racing from start to finish, but also to reach a crescendo with the final stage finishing on the Super Planche des Belles Filles, one of the hardest climbs in professional cycling.”