U.S. Riders Head To Tour Of America’s Dairyland For Road Worlds Selection Event
by Paul D. Bowker
C.J. Howard competes at the 2023 UCI Para-Cycling Road World Cup in Huntsville, Alabama. (Photo: Casey Gibson)
The top American Para road cyclists are headed to Wisconsin this week, and they’re not there for the cheese.
Ahead of the Tour of America’s Dairyland (ToAD), an 11-day criterium race series through the southeastern part of the state, the city of Janesville will host a selection time trial on Wednesday to determine which U.S. Para road cyclists will compete at the UCI Cycling World Championships that will take place Aug. 3-13 in Glasgow, Scotland.
Jamie Whitmore, a two-time Paralympic medalist and 21-time world championships medalist, and Dennis Connors, a former U.S. Marine who won five medals in three world cup events this year, will be among those trying to win one of 18 available spots on the U.S. team.
Defending world champions Samantha Bosco, Clara Brown and Oksana Masters have already clinched spots on the 21-member team. Brown, a 2020 Paralympian who won a world title last year in the time trial WC3, plans to race in Janesville.
“While we’re certainly taking a big team to Glasgow for the world championship for the road, it’s not a given that anyone will make that team,” said Ian Lawless, director of U.S. Paralympics Cycling. “I think it’ll be a pretty competitive event this week.”
Following the time trial, the ToAD, which began in 2009 and has grown to be the longest competitive road cycling series in the United States, begins Thursday in Janesville with a series of races that will include events for able-bodied pro divisions and Para classes.
“We’re really lucky to have the support of the ToAD event,” Lawless said. “The community out in Janesville and in Rock County … have really embraced having this unique sporting event. For us, that’s the ideal partnership when we have a community that understands what we’re trying to do and really supports our sport and our athletes. That’s pretty important.”
The world championships team for Para track cycling will be determined July 5-9 at the USA Cycling Para-cycling Track National Championships in Carson, California.
Thirteen of the 18 available spots on the U.S. road world team will be determined by results in Janesville, and how athletes rank against national standards. Once those athletes are chosen, another five will make the team through discretionary selections.
Among those chasing after world team berths are Alicia Dana, who won gold and bronze medals in WH3 at the world cup final in Huntsville, Alabama; Allison Jones, an eight-time Paralympic medalist over eight Paralympics in cycling and alpine skiing who has come out of retirement; Brandon Lyons, who won two world cup medals in MH3; and Owen Daniels, who won a gold medal in MH3 at the Ostend, Belgium, world cup.
“Brandon Lyons is a rider to watch in the men’s H3 class, along with Owen Daniels in the same class,” Lawless said. “Those two have been riding really strongly all year.”
Connors is coming off a gold medal win in the MT2 time trial in Huntsville, one of three world cup wins he had this year.
Whitmore won four bronze medals in WC3 and has won Paralympic medals in both road and track. Bosco, a 2016 Paralympian who hasn’t lost a world cup race in the last two years, and four-time Paralympic medalist Shawn Morelli lead the U.S. in WC4. Morelli still needs to make the world team with strong performances in Janesville.
“We have some classes, particularly on our women’s side with our women’s H3, our women’s C3 and our women’s C4, where we potentially have two strong riders in all of those classes, all with medal potential,” Lawless said.
Dana and Jenna Rollman finished one-two in the WH3 time trial at the world cup final, and Dana won a bronze medal in the road race.
Another handcyclist, Cody Wills, won silver and bronze medals in MH2 at the world cup final.
U.S. riders are coming off a historic world cup final in which they won 22 medals, six more than any other nation. The competition, held over Memorial Day weekend in Huntsville, marked the first time a Para-cycling road world cup was hosted by the U.S.
Lawless is hoping that momentum carries over to Janesville this week and then to Glasgow in August.
“I think our athletes are also just feeling strong and feeling really positive about the sport and their involvement in the sport because everything went so well in Huntsville, from the event side and from the organization side and because the team was so successful there,” Lawless said. “I think everyone’s kind of riding that wave right now.
“That’s why I feel not only will we see some really great racing in Janesville, we’ll just see some great community support. Hopefully, that means fast times, as well.”