Rawdon cyclist David Stone scribed his name alongside British sporting greats James Hunt and Jackie Stewart with an historic victory at Brands Hatch to defend his Paralympic road race crown.
Making up for losing his time trial title at the famous motor racing venue after having to settle for bronze last Wednesday, Stone won a titanic tussle with Giorgio Farroni of Italy, finally breaking clear in the closing stages to seal victory by seven seconds after completing the 24km course in 45.17 minutes.
It continued Great Britain’s golden summer of cycling as Stone added the nation’s seventh road medal of the Paralympics and third gold after Sarah Storey’s heroics brought her level with Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson as the most successful British Paralympian of the modern era.
It also comes after the GB Olympians and Paralympians swept the board in the London 2012 velodrome with similar superiority – not to mention Bradley Wiggins’ historic Tour de France victory.
And while tricycle rider Stone failed to match his double gold medal winning feats of 2008, the 31-year-old believes his London 2012 victory is his greatest achievement to date.
“It was the best race of my life. It makes the win better as it wasn’t easy,” said 31-year-old Stone, who won double World Championship gold in 2010.
“It shows how much stronger the competition is. Compared to Beijing, the field is so much harder now. It’s good, it pushes me, it makes it a much better sport.
“I made my move but Giorgio Farroni stayed with me. It was so hard. But the crowd were fantastic. I couldn’t let them down.”
Stone earned the right to be uttered in the same breath as Brands Hatch race of champions winners and Formula One icons Hunt and Stewart with a gruelling win in the baking sun as he and Farroni broke clear of the pack alongside Hans-Peter Durst, only for the German to abandon the race.
Stone and Farroni were nip and tuck throughout the last lap with the Italian seemingly more comfortable going uphill but the Brit able to temporarily pull clear on the downhill sections of the track.
And after attacking several times on the third and final eight kilometres, only for Farroni to catch up again, Stone finally broke free towards the finish to take the honours – and with it Great Britain’s 22nd cycling medal of these Games.
And he insisted he is not finished yet, saying: “Oh yes, I definitely want to be there in Rio in four years’ time and try and add to my three Paralympic gold medals.”
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