New Zealand and the USA announced strong teams that will compete at the UCI Para Cycling Road World Championships, set to take place in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, from 31 August-3 September.
The three-member New Zealand team includes a mix of experience and youth, with Rio 2016 Paralympians Stephen Hills and Fraser Sharp being joined by new rising star Sarah Ellington.
Paralympics New Zealand (PNZ) High Performance Director Malcolm Humm said: “I am thrilled to see Rio 2016 Paralympians Stephen [Hills] and Fraser [Sharp] selected to compete at the UCI Para Cycling Road World Championships.
“This event will provide them with the opportunity to bench mark themselves against the best in the world after some time out following the Rio 2016 Paralympics.
“It is [also] great to welcome Sarah (Ellington) to the team, a Para cyclist who is very new to the sport. The race experience Sarah gains from this event will be invaluable as she starts her journey towards Tokyo 2020.”
Whilst the team of three set their sights on South Africa, 15 further Para cyclists based throughout New Zealand were selected as part of two new squads named ‘High Performance’ and ‘Paralympic Potential.’
PNZ High Performance Para Sport Athlete Development Manager Melissa Wilson said: “As a result of an extensive review of the Para Cycling Programme following Rio 2016 we are really excited about implementing a revised squad structure.
“We believe the Para cyclists we have named have the potential to deliver medals as we look towards Tokyo 2020 and beyond. The squads allow Para athletes and their coaches to understand where they are within the Para cycling development pathway and what competitions they should be targeting.”
A total of 22 cyclists, including one tandem pilot, will represent the USA at the Para Cycling Road Worlds. The team, which is comprised of 12 males and 10 females, includes 16 Paralympians and three returning road world champions.
“We’re incredibly thrilled about the 22 deserving athletes on the Road World Championships team,” said US Paralympics Cycling High Performance Director Ian Lawless. “The combination of veteran athletes and newcomers creates a very promising team that will represent the United States well at this year’s event.”
Two-time Paralympic medalists Shawn Morelli and Jamie Whitmore will return to defend their world titles in the road race and time trial, whilst fellow two-time Paralympic medalist Jill Walsh will look to repeat as the world champion in the road race. Five other female Paralympians decorate the team, including Samantha Bosco, Alicia Dana, Allison Jones, Shawn Cheshire and Jennifer Schuble.
Six-time Paralympic medallist Will Groulx and two-time Paralympians Joe Berenyi and Matthew Updike will also compete in Pietermaritzburg. Additional Paralympians on the team include Ryan Boyle, Tom Davis, Billy Lister, Steven Peace and Freddie de los Santos.
At the same time, David Berling and Monica Sereda will make the Worlds team for the first time.
Full story on the US team can be found online.
More information about the New Zealand team is available online.