Oksana Masters poses for a portrait during the Team USA Tokyo 2020 Olympics shoot on Nov. 21, 2019 in West Hollywood, Calif.
Inside the Numbers presented by DeVry is a series that gives fans a peek at the numbers behind what it takes to qualify for Team USA and other incredible facts about Team USA sports.
The top American Para-cyclists haven’t had many opportunities to race during what has unexpectedly turned into a Paralympic year.
They competed for the first time in more than a year at the U.S. Paralympics Cycling Open in Huntsville, Alabama, in April. A month later, they took part in their first international race of 2021 at the UCI Para-Cycling Road World Cup in Ostend, Belgium.
All of the uncertainty over the past year will only add more intrigue to the U.S. Paralympic Team Trials for Cycling, which will be held June 19 in Minneapolis. Stakes will be high when cyclists race along the city’s West River Parkway for a chance to qualify for this summer’s Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020.
The athletes selected to the U.S. Paralympic Team will be announced on June 20.
With the U.S. Paralympic Team Trials only a few days away, here’s a closer look at Para-cycling by the numbers.
Para-cycling was developed in the 1980s, and it made its Paralympic debut at the 1984 New York/Stoke Mandeville Games. Athletes who compete in the three road events — the road race, the individual time trial and the handcycling team relay — must deal with conditions that aren’t always ideal for racing. For example, cyclists had to ride through cold wind and rain at the UCI Para-Cycling Road World Cup in Ostend. Athletes will likely be paying attention to the weather forecast in Minneapolis.
Athletes started competing in track Para-cycling at the 1996 Atlanta Paralympics. There are five track events in Para-cycling — the tandem sprint, the team sprint, the 500-meter time trial, the individual pursuit and the scratch race. Shawn Morelli won the first gold medal for Team USA at the 2016 Rio Paralympics when she cruised past Australian Susan Powell to capture the women’s C4 3,000-meter individual pursuit with a time of 3:59.407.
Athletes have eight Para-cycling events to medal in between the road races and track events. Team USA has earned at least nine medals in every Paralympics since 1996, when athletes started competing in both road and track Para-cycling. Americans have won 22 gold medals during that span.
Classifications are set up in Para-cycling to ensure that athletes with limb impairments, spinal cord injuries and other physical impairments race against cyclists with similar abilities. Athletes compete in 12 classes that are recognized by the type of cycle they use — five classes for standard bicycles (C1-5) five classes for handcycling (H1-5) and two classes for tricycles (T1-2).