RIO DE JANEIRO – The third day of road cycling at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games provided yet another action-packed day for the U.S. cycling team, highlighted by some extremely tight races. The U.S. picked up three more medals today, pushing the team total to 13 in the road competition, which exceeds the number of American road medals won at the London 2012 Paralympic Games by one.
Leading the charge for the Americans today was first-time Paralympian Jamie Whitmore (Mount Aukum, California), who won gold for the U.S. in the women’s C1-3 road race. The race ended in an all-out sprint to the finish that had everyone in attendance on the edge of their seats. Whitmore finished in a time of 1:30.14 to edge out China’s Sini Zeng and Denise Schindler of Germany.
The race was close throughout as many riders were more conservative and tactical than usual due to rain early on in the race. This prevented any rider from really breaking out from the pack, including Whitmore, who held steady in the lead group most of the race.
“The hardest part about today was being patient and really getting a feel for everyone because a lot of times I wanted to go to the front,” said Whitmore.
As the riders made the final turn and headed for the finish line there were six riders still in the pack, any of whom could have claimed gold. Knowing that helped push Whitmore even more as she was determined not to leave Rio without a road cycling medal.
“All I kept thinking about was how badly I wanted gold,” said Whitmore. “I put every ounce of myself into it, all the way down to my toes!”
The win in today’s race gave Whitmore her second medal of the Games; she won silver last week in the 3000m individual pursuit during the track portion of the cycling competition. For Whitmore, winning two medals in Rio was a dream come true.
“This has been a lifelong dream since I was six years old wanting to be an Olympian,” said Whitmore. “I thought my dream had ended and then there is this great thing called the Paralympics, and I got a second chance.”
Finishing fourth not far behind Whitmore in the C1-3 road race was teammate Allison Jones (Colorado Springs, Colorado). Today’s race marked the end of competition in Rio for the eight-time Paralympian. Despite not coming away with any medals, Jones was grateful for the experience and proud of the way she raced.
“Rio has been great, I had some good performances early on,” commented Jones. “Today’s fourth place is bitter but to me it was a success because I held in there to the end.”
Whitmore was not the only American to win her second medal in Rio today. Jill Walsh (Syracuse, New York) took part in the T1-2 women’s road race placing second overall in an event that was admittedly very challenging and exhausting for the first time Paralympian.
“That was hard,” said Walsh. “I could see the number one rider just pulling a little ahead from me… I thought I could make up some time but my legs were pretty spent by then.”
Walsh finishes these Games with two silver medals after having won silver in the T1-2 time trial on Wednesday.
The final medal of the day on the roads for the U.S. came courtesy of the relay team made up of Navy veteran Will Groulx (Portland, Oregon), Marine Corps veteran Oz Sanchez (San Diego, California) and Will Lachenauer (Reno, Nevada) whose combined effort resulted in silver in the H2-5 mixed team relay in a time of 33:21. Italy won the race in a time of 32:34.
The American trio put together a strong race and remained steady throughout which was critical for today’s race.
“We knew we would be stacking in at the number two spot in this race so the strategy was not to lose that spot,” noted Sanchez. “We went out as hard as we could and decided not to take a lot of risks - the race panned out like we expected it to.”
Ryan Boyle (Monroe, Connecticut) and Joe Berenyi (Oswego, Illinois) also completed their Rio Paralympic competition schedules today; Boyle just missed the podium in the T1-2 men’s road race, finishing fourth, while Berenyi finished 10th in the C1-3 men’s road race.
The U.S. team will have one more day to add to its medal count on the final day of the road cycling competition tomorrow.
Visit USParalympics.org/Rio2016 for more information on Team USA at the Paralympic Games, including athlete bios, team history and links to competition schedules. Follow the U.S. Paralympic team on social media on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.