Paralympians shine in time trials on a chilly day at U.S. Paralympics Cycling Open presented by Toyota
by Bob Reinert
When Jill Walsh (Syracuse, N.Y.) rode in the time trials Saturday morning at the U.S. Paralympics Cycling Open presented by Toyota, in Huntsville, Alabama, temperatures were in the mid-40s and the wind was blowing around 12 miles per hour, but the two-time Paralympian just shrugged it off.
These conditions were nothing new for Walsh. After all, the three-time Paralympic medalist is from Syracuse, New York.
Walsh, a retired New York state trooper, simply hammered through it all, riding to victory in the women’s T2 class. She negotiated the 15-kilometer, one-lap course at Cummings Research Park in 30 minutes, 58.4 seconds. Para-cyclists competed in a total of 19 classes on Saturday, the second of three days of racing in America’s “Rocket City.”
“It’s nice to finally ride outside,” Walsh said. “The weather worked out perfectly for me.”
Walsh said she is looking forward to tomorrow’s road race, also at the research park.
“I hope I repeat the performance,” Walsh said. “Time trial is just you and the clock. Road race is more fun because you’re interacting with the other riders. The time goes by a lot faster on the road race for me.”
Team USA’s Samantha Bosco (Claremont, Calif.) crossed the finish line in 22:17.5 to win the women’s C4 time trial. After being badly injured in a training accident last June, forcing her to miss the Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020, she was pleased with the effort.
“It was amazing,” said Bosco, a two-time two bronze medalist at the Rio Paralympics in 2016. “Every time I get on the bike, I feel powerful and strong. I feel unstoppable. So, for me, getting back on the bike today really meant the world to me because it meant that I can overcome anything.
“I feel like I got through the jitters of the first race back, and so tomorrow will just be going back to having fun with it.”
A day after riding as part of the handcycle team that placed second in the relay, Paralympian Freddie De Los Santos (Hopewell Junction, N.Y.) won the men’s H5 race in 22:47.6.
“Great time today. I really enjoyed the course,” De Los Santos said. “Super windy, super brutal, but what can I tell you? To be here and ride your bike, it’s a blessing.
“This is my second race of the year. I felt really good out there. So, I just want to take whatever I learned from this race and see if I can’t improve for the next two weeks.”
Ryan Pinney (Phoenix, Ariz.) was a teammate of De Los Santos in the mixed team relay that won a bronze medal in Tokyo, and they teamed up again in last night’s relay. Pinney had another good showing today, winning a crowded men’s H3 event in 22:55.8.
“The H3 class is just an incredible, challenging class,” said Pinney, “Not just in the country but the world. We’ve got the largest class, probably, and all of the competitors are just pushing each other so hard.
“The course was the same as last year – super fast. Strong, strong winds. I felt like I was riding into a headwind every turn I made. But other than that, the sun came out. It was a little cool but beautiful, beautiful conditions.”
Fifteen Para-cyclists will be selected from this weekend’s racing by U.S. Paralympics Cycling for the first two world cup races, which take place next month in Belgium and Germany.
FULL RESULTS AND LIVE STREAM
A livestream of the U.S. Paralympics Cycling Open’s time trials on Saturday and Sunday’s road races is available to view here: https://www.teamusa.org/USParaCycling/Events/Watch-Live
Full results from the event can be found here: https://www.teamusa.org/USParaCycling/Events/Results-and-Rankings
Bob Reinert spent 17 years writing sports for The Boston Globe. He also served as a sports information director at Saint Anselm College and Phillips Exeter Academy. He is a contributor to USParaCycling.org on behalf ofRed Line Editorial, Inc.
Red Line Editorial