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July 1/08 2:09 am - USA Cycling Announces Team for Beijing Olympics


Posted by Editoress on 07/1/08
 

Courtesy USA Cycling

USA Cycling announced today 21 of its 24 nominees to the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team, including all 16 men’s athletes across the disciplines of road cycling, track cycling, mountain biking and bicycle motocross (BMX). Additionally, USA Cycling formally announced five automatic women’s nominees across the four Olympic disciplines of cycling.

Of the 21 athletes named on Tuesday, 12 earned automatic nominations under USA Cycling’s Olympic selection procedures, while nine additional athletes were nominated to the Olympic Team by a nine-person selection committee according to USA Cycling’s Principles of Discretion.

Road Cycling
In the discipline of road cycling, a total of five men were nominated to the Olympic Team, while one automatic nomination to the women’s squad was announced.

On the men’s side, only one athlete earned an automatic nomination, while USA Cycling made four discretionary picks.

Levi Leipheimer (Santa Rosa, Calif.) was the only automatic qualifier as a result of a top-three finish in a UCI Grand Tour between July 1, 2007 and July 1, 2008. Leipheimer placed third overall at the 2007 Tour de France when he finished just 31 seconds off the pace of teammate Alberto Contador of Spain and eight seconds back from runner-up Cadel Evans of Australia. An Olympian in 2004, Leipheimer will represent the United States in his second Olympic Games.

Discretionary selections to the men’s road squad include George Hincapie (Greenville, S.C.), Jason McCartney (Coralville, Iowa), Christian Vande Velde (Boulder, Colo.) and David Zabriskie (Salt Lake City, Utah). All discretionary nominations were made by USA Cycling based on an athlete’s capability to medal or otherwise enhance team performance and create a medal capable environment.

Nominated to his fifth Olympic Team, Hincapie becomes the only five-time Olympic cyclist in U.S. history. McCartney and Vande Velde will each compete in their second Olympic Games. McCartney was a member of the 2004 squad on the road, while Vande Velde was a member of the track squad in 2000. Zabriskie will be making his first Olympic appearance.

Hincapie, Leipheimer, McCartney, Vande Velde and Zabriskie will all compete in the mass start road race.

Since no men’s road athletes met the automatic criteria to compete in the individual time trial, Leipheimer and Zabriskie received discretionary nominations to fill the United States’ two start positions in the race against the clock. Two of the United States’ most decorated time trialists in recent history, Leipheimer and Zabriskie have consistently medaled in world-class races over the course of the last several years. Most notably, Leipheimer won stage 19 of the 2007 Tour de France and stage 5 of the 2008 Tour of California. He also finished on the podium in two other UCI ProTour events – the prologue of the 2007 Dauphine Libere and stage 8 of the 2007 Tour of Germany. A silver medalist in the time trial at the 2006 UCI Road World Championships, Zabriskie also won two Grand Tour time trials – stage 1 of the 2005 Tour de France and stage 8 of the 2005 Giro d’ Italia. He has also appeared on the podium in three additional Grand Tour time trials since 2005 and has captured two consecutive USA Cycling Professional Time Trial titles (2006-07). Most recently, Zabriskie finished third in stage 3 of the 2007 Dauphine Libere and second in stage 5 of the 2008 Tirreno-Adriatico.

Kristin Armstrong (Boise, Idaho), by virtue of her silver medal in the time trial at the 2007 world championships last September, earned the sole automatic nomination to the women’s road team. The 2008 Games will be Armstrong’s second Olympic appearance after competing in the road race in Athens. Armstrong is automatically qualified to contest both the road race and time trial in Beijing.

Track Cycling
In the discipline of track cycling, a total of six men and two women were nominated to the Olympic Team.

Receiving automatic nominations were Michael Blatchford (Cypress, Calif.), Bobby Lea (Mertztown, Pa.) and Taylor Phinney (Boulder, Colo.) to the men’s squad and Sarah Hammer (Temecula, Calif.) and Jennie Reed (Kirkland, Wash.) to the women’s team.

Blatchford qualified for the team sprint event in Beijing at USA Cycling’s Team Selection Camp in mid-June when he recorded an automatic time standard of 17.973 seconds in the 250-meter time trial. Blatchford also received a discretionary nomination to compete in the match sprint based on his recent head-to-head performances against other members of USA Cycling’s Track Talent Pool. In addition to posting the fastest time in the selection camp, Blatchford also turned in the fastest time and was the only American sprinter to advance from the qualifying round in the match sprint at the 2008 UCI Track World Championships last March.

Lea qualified in similar fashion as the fastest endurance rider to meet a pair of time standards in a 3,000-meter mass start test at USA Cycling’s selection camp last month. Lea’s marks of 29.525 seconds at the 500-meter mark and 3:17.648 at the finish translated into an automatic nomination to contest both the points race and Madison in Beijing.

Phinney punched his ticket to Beijing back in January when he eclipsed a time standard at the third round of the 2007-08 UCI Track World Cup Classics series at the ADT Event Center in Los Angeles. His mark of 4:25.684 in the qualifying round of the 4,000-meter individual pursuit on Jan. 18 earned him an automatic nomination for that event in Beijing.

Hammer and Reed each earned automatic nominations as medalists at the world championships. Hammer captured a silver medal in the 3000-meter individual pursuit, while Reed claimed a bronze medal in the match sprint. Their respective performances in Manchester automatically qualified them to contest those events in Beijing.

Adam Duvendeck (Santa Barbara, Calif.) and Giddeon Massie (Zionhill, Pa.) received discretionary nominations for the remaining two men’s team sprint positions, while Michael Friedman (Pittsburgh, Pa.) earned a discretionary nomination for the Madison.

Teammates in the team sprint at the 2004 Athens Games, Massie and Duvendeck placed second and third respectively in a standing 250-meter time trial at USA Cycling’s selection camp. Most recently, the trio of Blatchford, Duvendeck and Massie teamed up to set a national record in the team sprint at the world championships.

Friedman recently clocked the second-fastest time behind Lea in the 3,000-meter mass start test at USA Cycling’s selection camp, posting times of 30.359 seconds and 3:20.192 over 500 and 3,000 meters respectively.

Of the eight track athletes nominated, three will be making their second appearance in the Olympic Games. Reed contested the match sprint in 2004, while Massie and Duvendeck were also team sprint teammates in Athens.

Bicycle Motocross (BMX)
As the discipline of BMX racing gets set to make its Olympic debut this summer, the U.S. will field a four-person squad which consists of three men and one woman.

Automatic qualifiers on the men’s side include Kyle Bennett (Conroe, Texas) and Mike Day (Santa Clarita, Calif.).

Bennett earned his automatic nomination as the top-ranked athlete in USA Cycling’s 2008 BMX Rankings, while Day won the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team Trials on June 14 to earn his.

Bennett and Day will be joined by Donny Robinson (Napa, Calif.). Robinson earned a discretionary selection to the men’s BMX squad based on his consistent history of recording top results at the international level. Among Robinson’s performances that factored into his selection were first-place finishes at the 2007 UCI BMX Supercross World Cup in Beijing last August, which also served as the official Olympic Test Event, and the third round of the 2008 series in Copenhagen in May. Robinson is currently the number-one ranked men’s BMX athlete in the world and leads the overall 2008 UCI BMX Supercross World Cup standings. Most recently, he finished second to Day at the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team Trials.

The sole women’s BMX spot will be filled by Jill Kintner (Seattle, Wash.). Kintner earned an automatic nomination as the top-ranked athlete in USA Cycling’s 2008 BMX Rankings.

Mountain Bike
For the discipline of mountain biking, Todd Wells (Durango, Colo.) earned the only men’s automatic nomination, while Adam Craig (Bend, Ore.) was selected as a discretionary nomination to the two-man squad.

Wells automatically qualified by earning the highest cumulative placing in his best three 2008 UCI Mountain Bike World Cup events. Wells finished sixth at the World Cup in Vallnord, Andorra on May 31 to complement an 11th-place effort in the season opener in Houffalize, Belgium on April 20. He then finished 13th at the most recent contest in Fort William, Scotland on June 7. Wells’ sixth place finish in Andorra was the best result by a men’s American mountain bike athlete in World Cup competition this year.

As the discretionary selection, Craig was the only other American to record a top-ten finish in a World Cup race this season, placing eighth at the second round in Offenburg, Germany. Additionally, Craig was the only other U.S. rider to place in the top 20 of four World Cups this year, adding a 15th-place finish in Houffalize, and a pair of 16th-place efforts in Andorra and Fort William.

The U.S. women’s mountain bike squad in Beijing will be filled by automatic nominee Georgia Gould (Ketchum, Idaho) and a yet-to-be-announced discretionary selection. Gould earned her automatic nomination as the athlete with the highest cumulative placing in her three best 2008 UCI Mountain Bike World Cup performances. Gould had a pair of fifth-place finishes in the season’s first and third World Cups respectively in Madrid and Houffalize. Her next best finish was an 11th-place effort at the most recent World Cup in Fort William.

“The cycling team that will represent the United States in August is shaping up to be one of the strongest ones we’ve had in recent history,” said USA Cycling Director of Athletics and Team Leader for the Beijing squad, Pat McDonough. “Based on the enormous strides taken by our athletic programs since the last Games and a consistent record of medal-winning performances at various world championships and World Cups by our athletes, I’m confident American cyclists can claim medal potential across all four Olympic disciplines of competitive cycling in Beijing.”

The remaining three discretionary nominations to the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team, which includes two women’s road athletes and one women’s mountain biker, will be announced by July 15.

All nominations are subject to the approval of the United States Olympic Committee.

 


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