Yesterday, the United States named their team for 2015 Para-cycling Track World Championships. It includes Justin Widhalm, Jamie Whitmore, Jennifer Schuble, Clark Rachfal, Dave Swanson, Greta Neimanas, Chris Murphy, Shawn Morelli, Scott Martin, Todd Key, Steve Kelly, Aaron Keith, Allison Jones, Samantha Heinrich, Megan Fisher, and Joe Berenyi. At least year’s 2014 UCI Para-cycling Track World Championships, the United States finished fourth on the medal table. The competition gets underway on March 26 in Apeldoorn, Netherlands.
High performance director for U.S. Paralympic Cycling Ian Lawless is quoted by U.S. Paralympics as saying, “We exceeded our goals coming into last year’s world championships, earning nine medals and two golds. […] Coming in as the number one ranked team in the world puts us in a great position to build on last year’s performance and put more athletes on the top of the podium. I think we have a fantastic group to do it.”
The United States team has a great deal of depth on the national and international level along with some new blood. The team includes a number of cyclists who were part of the United States’s road cycling team from last year’s World Cup in Segovia including Rachfal and guide Swanson, C5 cyclist Neimanas, C2 cyclist Jones, C4 cyclist Morelli, C3 cyclist Whitmore, and MC1 cyclist Key.
A number of members on this team competed at last year’s 2014 USA Cycling Para-cycling Road National Championships, including Rachfal and guide Swanson, Morelli and Whitmore.
Berenyi is one of several 2012 Summer Paralympic medalists on the team. He won gold in London in the C3 individual pursuit event. Fisher won silver in London in the C4 individual pursuit event. Jones won bronze in the C1-3 individual pursuit event. The USA won bronze in the team pursuit event with Berenyi, Schuble and Sam Kavanagh who is not on the 2015 team. Team USA cyclists will be looking at this event as an important one on their road to Rio qualification.
Earlier this week, Great Britain also named their team. It includes Stephen Bate, Adam Duggleby, Jody Cundy, Neil Fachie, Pete Mitchell, Louis Rolfe, Jaco van Gass, Megan Giglia, Crystal Lane, Lora Turnham, Lauryn Therin, Sophie Thornhil, Helen Scott, and Sarah Storey.
Track cycling is a sport potentially under some pressure from the IPC who is concerned about the discipline’s viability. As a consequence, these championships and other events take on greater importance.