Five Athletes To Watch At The Track Cycling Open

By Brianna Tammaro | Feb. 03, 2016, 9:30 a.m. (ET)

Jamie Whitmore won three medals in the women's C3 class at the 2015 UCI Para-cycling Track World Championships, including gold in the time trial.

Cyclists will take to the track for the 2016 U.S. Paralympics Track Cycling Open, Feb. 5-7, at the VELO Sports Center in hopes of representing Team USA at the biggest competitions of the year. The event will select the U.S. team for the 2016 UCI Para-cycling Track World Championships and have bearing on qualification for the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games. There will be no shortage of talent this week as two reigning world champions highlight a field of talented riders on the top-ranked team in the world. Before action gets underway, find out which athletes could compete for coveted spots for the biggest competitions of the year:

Joe Berenyi | MC3
Berenyi (Oswego, Illinois) won three medals—including two gold—at the 2015 UCI Para-cycling Track World Championships, winning the men’s C3 3-kilometer individual pursuit and time trial race. He first made his name known on the track at the London 2012 Paralympic Games when he set a world record en route to his first Paralympic gold in the men's individual cycling C3 pursuit. He also added to his collection in London with bronze in the team sprint and a silver medal in the individual time trial. Team USA’s Male Paralympic Athlete of the Year will be a favorite in the men’s C3 class heading into the track cycling open in his signature events.

Shawn Morelli | WC4
A United States Army veteran, Morelli (Leavenworth, Kansas) made her track cycling debut at the 2014 U.S. Paralympics Track Cycling National Championships where she won national titles in the women’s C4 pursuit and time trial. In 2015, she defended her national titles and won her first world medal on the track at the UCI Para-cycling Track World Championships with a bronze medal in the women’s C4 individual pursuit. The Rio hopeful also took home a bronze medal at the Toronto 2015 Parapan American Games in the individual pursuit. At her first track cycling open in 2014, Morelli finished at the top of the podium in all of her women’s C4 individual events. 

Chris Murphy | MC5
Murphy (Alta Loma, California) was a force at the 2014 and 2015 U.S. Paralympics Cycling Track National Championships, winning national titles in all of his individual races. He was also named to the U.S. team for the 2015 UCI Para-cycling Track World Championships in Apeldoorn, Netherlands and 2015 Parapan Am Games where he finished just off the podium with two fourth place finishes. Murphy was also one of the notable performers at the 2014 track cycling open with a dominate race in the 4km pursuit final to finish in a time of 4:52.2.

Aaron Scheidies and pilot Benjamin Collins
| MTandem

Though Scheidies (Seattle, Washington) and pilot Collins (Chicago, Illinois) are new to the track, they have both established themselves as ones to watch in the men’s tandem class. The pair won road national titles at the 2015 Volkswagen U.S. Pro-Cycling Championship in Chattanooga, Tennessee in both the road race and time trial. Former paratriathletes, they’ll hope to carry over their success on the road at the track cycling open with aims at eventually qualifying for their first Paralympic Games later this summer.

Jamie Whitmore | WC3
Whitmore (Mount Aukum, California) joins Berenyi on the track as Team USA’s other world champion, defending her world title after winning gold in the women’s C3 time trial. After also winning gold in the individual pursuit in 2014, Whitmore stepped on the podium again in 2015 with two silver medal performances in the pursuit and scratch race, emerging as one of the top U.S. performers in Apeldoorn, Netherlands. At the Parapan Am Games, she also had a fifth place finish in the time trial and finished sixth in the individual pursuit.

For results and more information on the 2016 U.S. Paralympics Track Cycling Open, visit the event website.