On Friday, Paralympian women competed in the C1-2-3 Road Race in cycling road. (Photo: Phillip MacCallum/Canadian Paralympic Committee)

When two racers become one

U.S. and Dutch riders cross finish line holding hands

RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil – In a symbol of international friendship, two racers crossed the finish line hand-in-hand, even though each of their racing suits sported a different country’s colour.

Allison Jones from the U.S. and Alyda Norbruis of Netherlands finished fourth and fifth in the women’s road race C1-2-3 on Friday.

“She knew that she didn’t have the strength for the climb and getting back down,” said Jones at the seaside track at Pontal. “I missed my opportunity to [get up the hill] and she was right there. We said, ‘We have to do this together.’”

During the 47.4 km race, the wind was blowing hard as the rain started to fall creating a slippery surface on the hilly course. As both racers saw their podium potential slip away, they decided that together was the best way to finish.

“It’s one of those where we both knew we were out of medal contention,” Jones said. “At that point there is no reason to race each other because it was a teamwork effort to get to the end.”

The two racers are no strangers to each other.

They have been racing together over the last couple of years, and each wants  the other to succeed even though they compete under a different flags.

“We’ve been riding together for the last couple years,” Jones said. “When we race, we race, but after we always want to work together.”

In the Road World Championships in 2014, Jones, 32, finished in first, and Norbruis, 27, finished in third in the C2- Road Race.

The official results of the Rio road race had Jones finishing in fourth place and Norbruis in fifth, both 26 seconds behind Jamie Whitmore who took the gold.

Even though Jones was the higher finisher, the two chose to share the finish.

“We finished together like a team, just like we would if we were working together, and it’s always awesome when you can do that within the race.”

Twitter: @Botts89