U.S. handcycle relay team wins silver to open UCI Para-cycling Road World Championships

By Katie Branham | July 29, 2015, 11:59 a.m. (ET)

(L-R) Will Lachenauer, Oz Sanchez and Will Groulx on the podium on the first day of the UCI Para-cycling road World Championships
NOTTWIL, Switzerland – Team USA opened the 2015 UCI Para-cycling Road World Championships with a second place finish in the handcycle relay on a rainy Wednesday evening in Switzerland.

The team of Will Lachenauer (Reno, Nevada), Will Groulx (Portland, Oregon) and Oz Sanchez (San Diego, California) finished just over a minute behind the reigning world champions from Italy.

The route to the podium was not an easy one. With steady rain and temperatures in the upper 50s, the athletes had to take extra measures to stay warm in between the three laps of the course that each athlete covered.

“The conditions were really tough today, so we were just doing everything we could to stay as dry and warm as possible so we could stay ready to race, but everyone had to race in the same conditions,” Groulx said.

The team also had to overcome a misdirected turn in the first trip through the exchange zone, but was quickly able to cover the gap. After opening laps by Lachenauer and Groulx, the U.S. team was sitting in third, but a strong start by Sanchez pulled the team securely into second place. Sanchez’s definitive move paid off  as he clocked the fastest lap of the field, and the Americans held their position for the remainder of the race.

“We’re not usually fighting for second, usually we’re fighting for first, but after the mix-up on the first exchange, that set us back a little, but we rolled with it,” Sanchez said. “I’ve seen crazier comebacks before, so I was just watching the guys in front of me and trying to put time on the guys behind us.”

The home team finished in third, with the Swiss crossing the line 21 seconds after the Americans.

The race was followed by the opening ceremony, where Sanchez, a Marine Corps veteran, served as the flag bearer for Team USA. 

“I was humbled and surprised that I was elected by my teammates,” Sanchez said. “I’m a very proud countryman and patriotic, so I’m honored.”

Competition resumes tomorrow with the cycle, trike and tandem time trials and runs through Sunday, Aug. 2. For complete results and more information, visit www.UCI.ch