Shawn Morelli Claims Para-cycling World Cup Gold for Team USA
Para-cycling World Champion Shawn Morelli represented Team USA this week at the UCI Para-cycling World Cup in Ostend, Belgium. In the Para-Cycling WC4 category, Morelli competed in both the time trial and road race events, which took place on the same technical 8.3-kilometer circuit in downtown Ostend. The time trial consisted of 2 laps on the course, requiring complete focus to navigate the tight turns followed by quick straights. As an athlete visually impaired on the left side, Morelli struggled with the numerous left turns. Morelli pushed on, commenting “It was a difficult race for me with all of the technical sections, but I gave it everything I had.” Morelli managed to lock down the silver medal in the Women’s C4 time trial event.
The road course covered 7 laps of the same route, and with extensive course knowledge from the time trial, Morelli knew positioning would be crucial across the multiple technical sections. Morelli concentrated on her pace through the straights, aiming to lead in the more technical areas. By lap 4 of the race, Morelli had ridden clear of her WC4 challengers thanks to excellent fitness and a clear strategy, and was then able to draw on the previous day’s time trial performance to push herself through the remaining laps. The effort paid off for Morelli, as she held her advantage through the finish, claiming the gold medal for Team USA and her UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling teammates back in the states.
“It was a very productive trip to Belgium for Team USA,” U.S. Paralympics Cycling high performance director Ian Lawless said to the Team USA media team. “We earned many medals from our regular podium performers, but it was great to see some breakout performances from a few new athletes vying for a spot on the Team USA roster in Rio.” Next up for Morelli is the USA Cycling National Road Championships in Winston-Salem, North Carolina on May 25th, where Morelli will join the rest of her UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling teammates who race on the 27thand 28th.