What To Watch At 2017 UCI Para-Cycling Track Worlds

By Stafford Braxton | March 01, 2017, 2:09 p.m. (ET)

Shawn Morelli will look to defend her world tile and world record in Los Angeles. 

The top international Para-cyclists will make their first major championship stop since the Paralympic Games Rio 2016, in Los Angeles for the 2017 UCI Para-cycling Track World Championships, held March 2-5. Team USA will be looking to capitalize on the high of their Rio success where the team saw 18 podium finishes – including four gold – across road and track cycling.

Last year, the squad took home four medals--three gold and one bronze--at world championships in Montichiari, Italy. Two-time world champion Joe Berenyi (Oswego, Illinois) will make strides to defend his titles after taking gold in the men’s C3 1,000-meter time trial and 3-kilometer individual pursuit. Army veteran Shawn Morelli (Leavenworth, Kansas) looks to defend her world title and world record in the women’s C4 3km pursuit.

With the largest team registered at the event, Team USA will compete against 66 athletes from 19 countries in pursuit of 28 gold medals.

Here’s a day-by-day breakout of the events and matchups to watch in L.A.:

Thursday, March 2
Women’s C2-3 500m Time Trial, Men’s C1-2-3 1km Time Trial, Women’s Tandem 3km Individual Pursuit, Men’s Tandem 4k Individual Pursuit

On the opening day of competition, Berenyi will take the track to defend his world title in the men’s C3 1km time trial final. Paralympian Jamie Whitmore (Mount Aukum, California) will strive to improve her place on the medal stand in the women’s C3 500m time trial, in which she finished with a bronze medal at last year’s world championships. Billy Lister (Cold Spring Harbor, New York) and Todd Key (Scottsdale, Arizona) will compete against a competitive field in the men’s C1 1km time trial in which they finished seventh and eighth in Montichiari. Shawn Cheshire (Camillus, New York) will compete with new pilot Robin Farina (Nevada City, California), in hopes of improving on last year’s sixth-place finish in the women’s tandem 3km individual pursuit.

Friday, March 3
Women’s C4-5 500m Time Trial, Men’s C4-5 1km Time Trial, Women’s C2-3 3km Individual Pursuit, Men’s C1-2-3 3km Individual Pursuit

Returning not only as the defending world champion, but also as the Rio 2016 Paralympic silver medalist, Berenyi is the one to beat for the men’s C3 3km individual pursuit title as he takes on the reigning Paralympic Champion, Australian David Nichols. After taking the silver medal in Rio, Whitmore is determined to redeem herself after finishing just off the podium in fourth place behind Australia’s Simone Kennedy in the women’s C3 km individual pursuit at the 2016 world championships. Additionally, be on the lookout for an energizing performance from Paralympian Chris Murphy (Alta Loma, California) in the men’s C5 1km time trial.

Saturday, March 4
Women’s C4-5 3km Individual Pursuit, Men’s C4-5 4km Individual Pursuit, Men’s & Women’s Tandem 1km Time Trial, Women’s C1-3/C4-5 10km Scratch Race

In one of the most anticipated races of the meet, Morelli enters the competition as the current Paralympic and world title holder in the women’s C4 3km individual pursuit after winning the gold medal in record-breaking style in Italy. She took Paralympic gold over Australia’s Susan Powell by more than three seconds. The current Paralympic title holder, Samantha Bosco (Spring Hill, Florida), looks to add 2017 world champion to her resume in the women’s C5 3km individual pursuit after finishing fifth in Montichiari.

Sunday, March 5
Men’s & Women’s C1-5 750m Team Sprint, Men’s C4-5 15km Scratch Race, Men’s C1-3 15km Scratch Race

Team USA will aim to redeem itself after narrowly missing out on a medal at last year’s world championships, finishing fourth in the C1-5 mixed team sprint. The trio of Berenyi, Jennifer Schuble (Birmingham, Alabama), and Murphy finished less than six-tenths of a second from the podium behind the bronze medal team of Spain. The team experienced the same outcome at Rio 2016, finishing fourth behind Spain by a mere 1.2 seconds.

Others to watch: Army veteran Justin Widhalm (Colorado Springs, Colorado) in the men’s C4 1km time trial, Marine Corps and Army veteran Jason Kimball (Charlotte, North Carolina) in the men’s C3 3km individual pursuit, and Aaron Keith (Woodinville, Washington) in the men’s C2 1km time trial. New additions to Team USA’s world championship roster include Jason Macom (Little Rock, Arkansas), Chester Triplett (Mooresville, North Carolina) and Steven Pedone (Tucson, Arizona).

For more information on this weekend’s world championships, visit the event website.