Chris Murphy competes at the 2022 UCI Para-cycling Track World Championships. (Photo: Casey Gibson)
MONTIGNY-LE-BRETTONEUX, FRANCE – It was a third night of racing decided by some of the closest margins of the competition thus far, and U.S. Paralympics Cycling athletes took away three silvers and a bronze medal to bump the team’s total to eight at the 2022 UCI Para-cycling Track World Championships in France. The team was led by Samantha Bosco (Claremont, California), Aaron Keith (Woodinville, Washington) and Chris Murphy (Rancho Cucamonga, California), who each won silver, and Clara Brown (Falmouth, Maine), who pulled off an exciting bronze in the individual pursuit.
The podiums were the second silvers of the competition for both Bosco and Keith, and both are expected to pick up another podium in their respective Omnium competition, the ceremonies for which are set for Sunday. Omnium scores are based on an athlete’s points across four races throughout the weekend.
All three of Team USA’s silvers tonight were decided by fractions of a second. In the 3-kilometer Individual Pursuit MC1, Keith missed the gold medal by just .054 seconds. After advancing first overall out of the qualifying heats, Keith was able to hold off Spaniard Ricardo Ten Argiles in the gold medal final until the final straightaway, where Ten Argiles found milliseconds to overtake Keith.
“Getting second by .02 is a little bit disappointing, but riding as well as I did, I can’t expect too much more from myself,” Keith said. “I’m pleased with how I raced, it’s a little bittersweet with losing the rainbow jersey in the pursuit, but I’m excited to keep training and working over the next two years as we get ready for Paris in 2024.”
Keith’s two medals tie the most he’s won at a world championships in 12 career appearances over both road and track disciplines, and are the most he’s won in a track worlds. Keith matched that number at the 2019 road world championships, where he won gold and bronze.
The nine-time world championships medalist, who’s competing in his 12th worlds between road and track, is also likely to win silver in the MC1 Omnium competition.
That podium would cement this competition as Keith’s most successful career world championships.
“I’m pretty stoked that this is the best I’ve done,” Keith said. “To come to a track like this and experience it, to understand the way the curves of the track are, the gearing and equipment and all the things that will factor into training and preparing.”
Following Keith, in the 1-kilometer Time Trial MC5, Murphy put together a strong qualifying heat to advance first overall into the gold medal final. His finals time of 1:04.579 was just .287 seconds off the pace set by winner Blaine Hunt of Great Britain.
Murphy, a two-time Paralympian, recently switched coaches to Jennie Reed, an Olympic medalist who traveled with the team as one of its coaches to the competition this weekend. Murphy said the improvement he has shown working under Reed is evident in his performance in Montigny-Le-Brettoneux.
“I’m really proud of myself,” he said. “I gave it everything I had today. It’s always amazing to win a medal, I never take it for granted. I feel like I put myself in a good position today and I feel like I’m on track to get to my goals as we move towards Paris.”
Murphy will compete tomorrow alongside Keith and Justin Widhalm (Bridgeport, Nebraska) in the team sprint. Widhalm, in his eighth track world championships appearance, finished fourth in his 1-kilometer Individual Pursuit MC4.
Bosco rounded out the trio of silvers with a dramatic finish to the 10-kilometer Scratch WC4. After attacking and leading for much of the early stages of the race, Bosco was caught by the pack, but was able to find speed in the final laps and nearly retain the lead. In the third tight finish of the night for Team USA, Bosco was edged by milliseconds.
“Today was harder than the last two days,” she said. “I woke up and didn’t feel as on top of my game as I had the last two days. I tried to go into the scratch race conserving as much energy as I could, but also using my matches effectively.”
Bosco, who has two rainbow jerseys on the road this season and is expected to win the silver in the Omnium WC4, said she was only more motivated by her performance at track worlds.
“I don’t like silver, I don’t like second place, and I’m going to use that motivation as fuel and come back even stronger,” she said. “I’m hungry. I would’ve love to get more rainbows to finish off the season, but I’m super happy with my performance this season, and to finish off the season this way gives me more motivation to train harder.”
Brown, who also nabbed two medals including a rainbow jersey at road world championships, found her stride in the final laps of the 3-kilometer Individual Pursuit WC3 and pulled off a comeback victory in the bronze medal final over Aniek Van Der Aarssen of the Netherlands.
The 2020 Paralympian, who also secured bronze in the scratch race yesterday, is expected to be on the podium again tomorrow for bronze in the WC3 Omnium competition. The medal will represent Brown’s second time on the Omnium podium – she won gold in the event at the 2020 track world championships.
Brown, Bosco and Keith are the only Team USA athletes to earn medals at both track and road world championships in 2022.
Making their international debuts in the 1-kilometer Time Trial WB, the tandem duo of Hannah Chadwick (El Cerrito, California) and Mary-Kate Wintz (Cincinnati, Ohio) teamed for sixth place. After qualifying through the preliminary heats to earn a spot in the finals, the pair posted a time of 1:10.933 to solidify their top-six performance.
Chadwick and Wintz are one of Team USA’s most promising emerging women’s tandem teams. They began training together in 2019 but were unable to work together during the COVID-19 pandemic, which put their dreams on hold for two years. In January 2022, they moved into the Colorado Springs Olympic & Paralympic Training Center – Wintz from Ohio and Chadwick from California – and have made dramatic improvements since. They will return to the track for tomorrow’s WB sprint races.
Last night’s bronze medalist in the 15-kilometer Scratch MC4 competition, John Terrell (Converse, Texas) nabbed a fourth consecutive top-10 finish to round out his first career track world championships. Terrell’s 10th-place result in the 1-kilometer Time Trial MC4 accompanies his bronze medal as well as fourth and fifth-place finishes in the 200-meter flying start and the 4-kilometer individual pursuit, respectively. Terrell will be on the podium once again tomorrow for the MC4 Omnium bronze.
Team USA’s Bryan Larsen (Placerville, California) concluded his world championships debut with a 15th-place finish in the 1-kilometer Time Trial MC5. Larsen, a relative newcomer to the para-cycling world, made his presence felt on the international stage. He set a personal best in all of his races, including shaving 10 seconds off his individual pursuit time, and recorded a massive fifth-place finish in the 15-kilometer Scratch MC5 competition.
Larsen said his worlds debut was a learning experience. Prior to arriving in France, he had only been able to watch footage of most of his competition at the international level.
“To set personal bests in every competition I did is a huge win, and they weren’t just little steps, they were big steps,” Larsen said. “But still to sit there, and the medals are far away, but they’re not that far away is motivating.
I learned a lot this week about my competition. I would say it both matched and exceeded my expectations as far as the pace that people are setting. When it was fast, it was really fast. It was a little more cat-and-mouse than I expected it to be. It’s easy to find wins, and it’s also lights a fire to know that the competition is so high.”
Racing concludes tomorrow, with Team USA set to compete in the WB sprint races and the team sprint. All sessions of the 2022 para-cycling track world championships are streamed live here. Follow U.S. Paralympics Cycling on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for updates from Montigny-le-Brettoneux.
For media requests and photo inquiries, please contact Kristen Gowdy at Kristen.Gowdy@usopc.org.