MANIAGO, Italy – In a grand finale with Team USA securing the gold medal in the team relay en route to its third medal of the day, U.S. athletes closed the 2018 UCI Para-cycling Road World Championships in Maniago, Italy with 15 total medals, including nine gold, four silver and two bronze to finish second overall on the medal leaderboard.
In a thrilling finish in front of thousands of fans in Maniago, the handcycle relay of Will Groulx (Portland, Oregon), David Randall (Ontario, Ohio) and Oz Sanchez (San Diego, California) became the world champions. With the close race coming down to Team USA and the host Italians, Sanchez – despite having a broken brake – beat out Italy’s Alex Zanardi at the finish line. Today’s gold marked the third medal of the world championships for Groulx and Sanchez, while Randall earned his first medal of the event.
Two-time Paralympic champion Shawn Morelli (Saegertown, Pennsylvania) successfully swept her two events, winning the WC4 road race today to go along with her WC4 time trial crown. Breaking away from second-place finisher Hannah Macdougall from Australia with roughly 500 meters left in the race, Morelli crossed the finish line first to bring her career road world titles to seven.
Two-time Paralympic medalist Jamie Whitmore (Somerset, California) secured a podium finish today as she finished third in the WC3 road race. Whitmore additionally took home the bronze in the WC3 time trial.
Team USA improved from its performance at the 2017 world championships, where the team won 11 medals, including three gold. To finish the 2018 season, U.S. athletes will compete in the third UCI Para-cycling Road World Cup in Baie-Comeau, Quebec, from Aug. 15-19.
ADDITIONAL TOP-10 FINISHES ON SUNDAY
5th: Samantha Bosco (Upland, Calif.) – WC5
8th: Todd Key (Scottsdale, Ariz.) – MC1
9th: Billy Lister (Cold Spring Harbor, N.Y.) – MC1
OVERALL MEDAL COUNT
Team USA: 15
Will Groulx: 2 gold (MH2 road race, handcycle relay); 1 silver (time trial)
Oz Sanchez: 2 gold (MH5 time trial, handcycle relay); 1 silver (road race)
Ryan Boyle: 2 gold (MT2 time trial, road race)
Shawn Morelli: 2 gold (WC4 time trial, WC4 road race)
Jill Walsh: 2 gold (WT2 time trial, road race)
David Randall: 1 gold (handcycle relay)
Alicia Dana: 2 silver (WH3 time trial, road race)
Jamie Whitmore: 2 bronze (WC3 time trial, WC3 road race)
On her strategy heading into the road race…
“My strategy was to be patient and play it smart. Once Hannah (Macdougall from Australia) and I got in the break together, we agreed to work together to keep the gap. We held that until about the last three kilometers of the race, and then we went back and forth to see who was going to be able to pull it out in the end. It came down to patience. I had a plan of where I wanted to make my move and how I wanted to make it, and I just had to be patient and wait for that moment.”
How it feels to leave Italy with two gold medals…
“It feels pretty good. I’ve had a lot of medical problems this season, so my training has been hit and miss, so I was glad I was able to hold on today and during the time trial.”
On the dramatic ending in the team relay…
“That was pretty epic. We were playing cat-and-mouse. I was trying to get him to go around me – I didn’t have a brake, so I couldn’t pull anything sharp – so I just waited until the last half kilometer and ramped it up. I hit the corner too fast, but I said, ‘I’m either going to wreck into the barricade or I’m going to win,’ and I was able to save it. I just went full throttle in the last 200 meters.”
On the atmosphere and fans in Italy…
“This is one of the best venues – if not the best venue – that we have in our series. It’s a beautiful thing for the town to back it so much. The mayor is here…you don’t see this very often with total town support.”
Full results from the 2018 UCI Para-cycling Road World Championships can be found here. Follow U.S. Paralympics on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook for updates from the event.