Para-Cyclists Head Into “Ideally Suited” Chattanooga Courses For U.S. Championships
by Bob Reinert
Travis Gaertner competes in the UCI Para-cycling World Cup time trial in Ostend, Belgium. (Photo: Casey Gibson)
When top U.S. Para-cyclists converge on Chattanooga, Tennessee, this weekend for the 2022 USA Cycling Para-cycling Road National Championships, at stake are spots on Team USA for the world cup finals and world championships, both in Quebec early next month.
Americans started strong this year with a number of podium finishes in the first two world cup events in Europe. They hope to continue that trend in Chattanooga before returning to international competition.
“It’s an ideal event from which to select rosters for the world cup final in Quebec as well as for the world championships,” said Ian Lawless, director of U.S. Paralympics Cycling. “The courses closely mimic the hills in Baie Comeau, where the riders will race for world championships, so it’s an awesome opportunity for high-performance staff to see how well athletes are prepared for the upcoming international events.”
The time trials, handcycle relays and road races will all take place in Chattanooga’s Enterprise South Nature Park. The time trials and relay races will be held Saturday and the road races on Sunday. U.S. Paralympics Cycling will provide coverage throughout the weekend on its website and social media channels.
According to Lawless, the park provides an outstanding venue.
“Enterprise South Nature Park is beautiful and challenging,” Lawless said. “We utilized this park for the road race national championships in 2015, and 2022 is the first time we will use the park for all three disciplines.
“The park is ideally suited to Para-cycling, with beautiful, smooth roads and challenging terrain, which is similar to the terrain they will encounter at the world championships. The park is almost completely shaded under a beautiful canopy of trees, which should help our athletes manage the heat.”
Riders to watch, and their classifications, include:
Allison Jones, WC2: Look for Jones, who came out of retirement this year, to make a run at qualifying for the upcoming international competitions, her first in more than four years. The eight-time Paralympian, who has earned eight Paralympic medals, missed the first two world cups because of COVID-19.
Oksana Masters, WH5: Masters, who just received three ESPY nominations, has won 17 Paralympic medals over five games in Para-cycling, Nordic skiing and rowing. She’s back on the bike this summer after a busy last year that saw her win two cycling gold medals in Tokyo followed by seven medals in Nordic skiing in Beijing.
Clara Brown, WC3: Brown, who earned multiple medals at the season’s first two world cups, hopes for a pair of national titles. She’s competing for the overall world cup title in her classification. She would like a world title on the road to go with the 2020 world champion’s rainbow jersey she won on the track in 2020.
Samantha Bosco, WC4: Undefeated thus far in 2022, Bosco returned after injury forced her to miss Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020. The overall world cup leader in her classification, she’s favored to win a pair of national titles. She should also compete for two world championships.
Alicia Dana, WH3: With one world cup win under her belt this season, Dana is favored to contend for three national championships. If she’s successful, she’ll be a force to reckon with in Quebec. She has 10 medals — two of them gold — over six previous world championships.
John Terrell, MC4: Terrell leads the world cup overall in his classification. During his two-month 2022 European racing tour in four countries, he ascended five podiums. He won a gold medal and a silver medal at two world cup events this year. Terrell could win a pair of national championships and move on to Quebec.
Travis Gaertner, MH4: Gaertner, a two-time Paralympic wheelchair basketball gold medalist for Canada, won a road race bronze medal at the 2019 world championships. He just missed the podium at this summer’s world cup in Elzach, Germany, placing fourth in the road race. But he has a chance at three national titles in Chattanooga.
Brandon Lyons, MH3: With 2022 world cup medalist Ryan Pinney injured, the men’s H3 national titles are wide open. Lyons will be the favorite in the classification.
Dennis Connors, MT2: Connors hopes to make his second world championships on the trike and should be the favorite this weekend. He’s also a national champion Para climber.
Aaron Keith, MC1: Keith was the 2019 world time trial champion and a Paralympic silver medalist in Tokyo. He’s heavily favored in Chattanooga. In 10 world championships on the road and track, he’s won five medals, including two road race gold medals.
Chester Triplett, MB: Triplett, the defending national champion in the men’s tandem class, owns a bronze medal in that event from the 2017 world championships. He’s riding to reach his fourth world championships.
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 of Red Line Editorial, Inc.