Trio of wins for Team USA at UCI Para-cycling Road World Championships

By Katie Branham | Aug. 01, 2015, 3:53 a.m. (ET)


Jill Walsh won the first rainbow jersey of her career at the 2015 UCI Para-cycling Road World Championships

NOTTWIL, Switzerland – Jamie Whitmore and Shawn Morelli defended their world titles in the road race, while Jill Walsh won her first world championship as Team USA had an outstanding day in the road races at the 2015 UCI Para-cycling Road World Championships.

Walsh (Syracuse, New York) won the first rainbow jersey of her career as she sprinted past Australia’s Paralympic gold medalist Carol Cooke to take the win in the women’s T2 road race. After racing close to one another throughout the four-lap race, Walsh pulled ahead to win by six seconds.

“I had a very good race, I did what I was supposed to do and it all worked out,” Walsh said. “I knew that the Australian rider is very strong, and I didn’t think I had a chance to win, so I thought I was fighting for second or third. But then I got to the third lap and I still felt pretty good and pretty fresh. With half a lap left, I strategically waited until I knew I could sprint to the finish, and I was amazed to take the win.”

A crash on the first lap couldn’t stop Whitmore (Mount Aukum, California) from successfully defendeing her C3 road race world title as she won by more than a minute over Denise Schindler of Germany.

“On the only technical section of the race, I lost my focus in the middle of the turn and went down,” Whitmore said. “I split open the same elbow that I had to get stitches in last month, my chain came off, and I had to get everything back together and get on the bike.

“It was one of the most exciting races I’ve done in the three years I’ve been racing in these Paralympic events. Everyone was attacking and there was no letting up, and that’s the kind of racing that I like. I don’t like sitting around and waiting to sprint at the end, I want everyone to give all the have for the whole race.”

Whitmore’s victory gives her six world titles on the roads and an undefeated record at the road world championships since 2013.

Morelli (Leavenworth, Kansas) established herself as the early leader of the women’s C4 road race and never relented. Morelli won over Susan Powell of Australia by more than four minutes to defend her world title. 

“Every time I get on my bike, I go in with the mindset that I can win. You have to believe that from the start, or it’s not going to happen,” Morelli said. “I knew I could defend my road race title this year, so I probably focused more on the time trial, and now it feels really good to win both titles.”

The men’s T2 race provided the most dramatic finish of the day. Giorgio Farroni of Italy was in second place, but he crashed with only 150-meters to go and could no longer ride his bike. As Ryan Boyle (Marietta, Georgia) entered the finish stadium, Farroni was on his feet pushing his bike towards the finish trying to grab third. Boyle was able to ride past Farroni on the final straight to take the bronze medal and record his second podium finish of the championships.

Allison Jones (Colorado Springs, Colorado) also reached the podium for Team USA as she won her second medal of the championships with a bronze medal in the women’s C2 road race.

Other notable performers included Megan Fisher (Missoula, Montana) who took fourth in the women’s C4 race; Aaron Keith (Woodinville, Washington) who finished sixth in the men’s C2 race and Samantha Heinrich (Spring Hill, Florida) who took fifth in the women’s C5 race.

After three days of competition, Team USA owns 15 medals (five gold, six silver, four bronze). The U.S. is tied with Italy for the number of gold medals, in second for the number of overall medals and in first in the medal rankings.

Competition concludes on Sunday, Aug. 2 with the handcylce road races. For complete results and more information, visit www.UCI.ch