Golden Start as Bosco, Brim and Pinney Take Titles on Opening Day of Road Cycling in Santiago
by Heidi Ledermann
SANTIAGO, CHILE - Team USA kicked off the first day of Para-cycling road events at the Parapan American Games Santiago 2023 with an impressive start, capturing seven medals in the individual time trial.
The morning started strong with gold and silver medal performances in the women’s C1-5 time trial from Paralympic medalists Samantha Bosco (Claremont, California) and Jamie Whitmore (Somerset, California), respectively.
With this win under her belt, Bosco noted she was excited for how this event will prepare her for the upcoming Paralympic Games in Paris next summer.
“I think every competition prepares me one way or another, whether it’s overcoming challenges that lead up to a race or in the race itself,” said Bosco. “This trip is just giving me a preview of what to expect at the Games and to know where I’m at, what I can work on, and get a feel of the atmosphere and embrace the process.”
As for the immediate future, Bosco is one of three Team USA athletes – along with Whitmore and Joe Berenyi (Aurora, Illinois) – who plan to compete in both track and road cycling events this week. While her title was hard fought, Bosco said that she is “trying to fuel properly, get a good recovery and make every workout count and the time here count” in preparation of what is likely to be a grueling week of racing still ahead.
The last time Whitmore competed in a Parapan American Games event was 2015 in Toronto where she missed the podium by six seconds, fueling her to come back with a mission which she accomplished as noted by the medal around her neck.
“Things can always go wrong,” said Whitmore. “It’s learning to be able to manage stress and what you can control.”
This statement rang especially true today, as Whitmore’s ride to the event started with a fried car battery and continued with a highway roadside pitstop, as her bike was dangling off the roof of the car while driving.
“We went from wondering if we were even going to make it to the event on time to getting here and having everything be okay,” said Whitmore. “The warm-up went smoothly, and I feel like I had a great race.”
In another 1-2 finish for Team USA, Ryan Pinney (Phoenix, Arizona) and Brandon Lyons (Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania) earned gold and silver medals, respectively, in the men’s H1-5 individual time trial.
Lyons acknowledged that chasing teammate Pinney provided the extra motivation he needed to gain a podium position.
“After that first lap, being only five seconds down from first really gave me the motivation to catch my teammate Ryan,” said Lyons. “To see us both on the podium was awesome. With the road race coming up, we are hoping to get myself, Ryan, and Freddie a full Team USA sweep on the podium.”
Commenting on sharing the podium with his teammate, Pinney said. “All the competitors, especially Brandon and my other teammates, push me to get better and better. If we help each other out, we’re just going to progress, and it’s not just a pleasure for me to be on the podium but to see that I’m somewhat pushing him to get better as well.”
“I am always so proud to hear the United States national anthem,” said Rollman. “I love that I got to hear it twice in this event today – once for the men and women. That just shows the excellence that we go out and try to achieve on the racecourse, and I love being on the podium with my teammates. It’s always an extreme moment of pride when we get to celebrate that together.”
Brim noted that the feeling of team camaraderie went beyond just Team USA.
“Yesterday, we had an amazing introduction to the course where every single one of us – all 50 handcyclists – rode the course together, and it was essentially like all of us being one big team together just getting to set the tone of the course,” said Brim. “It was the welcome back that I needed to racing, and it felt absolutely incredible and really set the tone for today.”
Finishing the day just as strong as it started, Dennis Connors (Beaverton, Oregon) snagged one more silver medal for Team USA in the mixed T1-2 individual time trial.
“I’m feeling ecstatic about my race,” said Connors. “I tell everybody I can finish on empty, and I definitely finished on empty today.”
Connors mentioned that he had to dig much deeper than usual, as this was no normal race for this time of year. The thermometer rose well above 80 degrees Fahrenheit as the last class hit the course, leading competitors like Connors to push through the warmest temperatures of the day. However, Connors said that he had been anticipating the warm, summer weather, and factoring that into his training plans back at home.
“It’s really difficult for me to deal with the heat,” explained Connors. “I have a condition from my brain injuries that makes it really hard for me to cool off, so that was part of my preparation at home where it was cold and rainy in Oregon. I would turn the fans off and keep some layers on to start focusing on the heating and cooling protocols during the race.”
The day’s competition featured mixed-class individual time trial events, and the competitors’ times were factored for the various classifications.
“It’s always different when you have to play the factor system in a race,” said Whitmore, “but at the same time, it’s nice because it gives validity to a deeper field.”
Connors was pleasantly surprised with his medal performance, as he knew the factor system would create a higher level of competition in his race. “I wasn’t even sure if the podium was a potential with the factored timing today,” said Connors, “and then to pull out second place, even with the factors in my category, was really difficult. It was the best time trial I have ever done in my life.”
Brim mentioned that the factored system created a special opportunity for her and teammate Rollman to be able to work together and push each other. “Jenna and I have raced together for about a year and a half now,” said Brim, “and we’re in different classifications, so typically, we don’t get to race together, so this race is one where we are like, alright, now it’s about teamwork.”
Competition resumes on Thursday, Nov. 23 with the first day of track cycling events. All sessions will be streamed live on the Pan Am sports channel. Follow U.S. Paralympics Cycling on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for updates and results throughout the competition, which runs through Nov. 26.
For media requests and photo inquiries, please contact Heidi Ledermann at Heidi.Ledermann@usopc.org.
Team USA Medals – Nov. 19:
Samantha Bosco – women’s C1-5 individual time trial
Ryan Pinney – men’s H1-5 individual time trial
Kate Brim – women’s H1-5 individual time trial
Jamie Whitmore – women’s C1-5 individual time trial
Brandon Lyons – men’s H1-5 individual time trial
Dennis Connors – mixed T1-2 individual time trial
Jenna Rollman – women’s H1-5 individual time trial
Other Team USA Results:
Joe Berenyi – 9th, men’s C1-5 individual time trial
Elizabeth Mis – 6th, women’s C1-5 individual time trial
Freddie De Los Santos – 6th, men’s H1-5 individual time trial