USA Cycling is roundly criticized by riled up fans on a yearly basis for not taking the World Championships seriously and sending the nation's strongest to the contest; and this year is no exception. With many of the top American riders winding down after a long season, and the domestic season ending with Miami, there are concerns that the US Team will have a hard time going the distance with the kind of strength it will take to contest the win. Additionally, many are up in arms about the selection of dual American/Italian citizen Guido Trenti, who normally rides in Mario Cipollini's zebrato strip. Trenti lives in Italy, doesn't speak any English, and the riled suggest that he will work for his trade master rather than supporting US team leader Fred Rodriguez in the sprint. So, as usual, there's no shortage of controversy and complaining.
With all the belly-aching, you'd think that the team the US is sending to the worlds this year is chopped liver, which couldn't be further from the truth. Leading the U.S. team will be Fred Rodriguez. Two-time USPRO Champion, (2000-2001) Rodriguez is an experienced denizen of the European scene, and depite some lows, is coming off one of his most successful seasons. A clever racer with a quick finish, Rodriguez finished second only to Super Mario in this year's Milan-San Remo and Ghent-Wevelgem in the early part of the season. A bout with bronchitis denied Rodriguez the opportunity to truly contest a third consecutive USPRO title, and illness sidelined him early at the tour this year; but with strong showings in the past few weeks, Rodriguez looks to have found some good late season form. Rodriguez will be making his sixth world championships appearance (as a junior in 1991, silver medal in team time trial; elite: 1993, 1995, 1999, 2000). He's strong finisher, who's been keeping an eye on the competition all season long, and there's no doubt he has it in him to factor in the finish against the strongest international field. Fast Freddy will be the US team's go-to guy if it does come down to a sprint, and will be an even bigger threat from a smaller break, should one stay clear with him in it.
Prime Alliance's Chris Horner, one of the top US pros on the domestic scene, joins Rodriguez. Horner, who raced for a few seasons with Francais de Jeux, is no stranger to European competition. Horner dominated the US spring season with overall victories and stage wins in the Sea Otter Classic and Redlands Bicycle Classic, along with a second consecutive victory in the Solano Bicycle Classic. Horner was plagued by mid season injuries, but has been working back up to speed in recent weeks. He may be at a disadvantage just for not having raced much in recent months, but it would be foolish to count a rider as strong as Horner out. This will be Horner's fifth world championship appearance and he was the top American (28th) at the 1997 road worlds in San Sebastian, Spain. A tactical strongman capable of winning on his own right, Horner will lend his powers to a team victory while looking for opportunities to break. A strong time triallist, Horner will also compete in the individual time trial.
Courtesy of www.cyclingteam.org
Backing up Rodriguez and Horner will be the controversial selection: American-Italian racer Guido Trenti. 29 year old Trenti brings strength and experience to the U.S. team. More usually seen in the Acqua e Sapone zebra kit as an integral part of the famed lead-out train for Mario Cipollini. Rodriguez has said that Trenti could be his strongest support in the final kilometers of the race, but with the Italians famous on the Worlds stage for loyalty to trade teams and disloyalty to national squads, many fans are wary of his selection. Trenti himself has said that "It's already a great feeling knowing that I will be at the worlds... Once I am there in the jersey, it's going to be a fulfillment of a life's dream for me and I will do my best." Rodriguez expressed confidence in his American-Italian teammate, saying that he has spoken to Trenti's teammates Bortolami and Cipollini, who have assured him that Trenti is there to race for the US effort. Says Rodriguez: "He has too much to lose to help Cipollini." The holder of a US racing license, and an experienced European pro for 6 years, Trenti is ineligible for the Italian team, and will look to prove to the US team that he is an asset this year and for the future. "I'm really proud to be chosen to represent the USA this year," Says Trenti.
Courtesy of www.uspsprocycling.com
Fresh off finishing his second Vuelta a Espana, Antonio Cruz recently finished 20th in Paris-Tours. With form coming into focus in the late season, Cruz brings two years of European experience to the U.S. team. This will be his third consecutive world championships appearance. A tough bike rider, Cruz suffered a nasty crash when he slipped on an oil patch on a steep descent early in the Vuelta a Espana, and netted himself a fine hematoma, and five stitches in his right knee, which he took straight up, thank you, no anesthesia; and then refused to quit the race. Cruz has said that "the worlds are very important and I think I will be fine in time for Zolder."
US Postal's Dylan Casey joins the team as well. Current US National Time Trial Champion, 31 year old Casey will ride the Time Trial along with Horner, and will provide strong, seasoned teamwork in the road race. A versatile rider and a veteran of the US and European road, an Olympian, and a former US Track Champion, Casey is well-raced in the late season after facing some bad luck earlier in the year, and will be motivated to do well with his contract with Postal expiring, and negotiations on the horizon.
Saturn's Tim Johnson, Jelly Belly's Mariano Friedick, Navigators' Ryan Guay, Mercury's Mike Sayers and LanbouwKrediet-Colago's Jeff Louder round out the squad. Belgium-based Louder brings good European experience to the table, Friedick is a strong sprinter and should do good service in a lead-out train, as should Mike Sayers who is an integral part of Mercury's winning formula. Ex-cyclo-cross Champion Tim Johnson is a good all day hardman. Ryan Guay is a strong all-rounder with a fast finish, and has done solid team service all year. He is a solid breakaway man, and could be useful in a leadout as well.
The U.S. women's team has experience and depth that is sure to be competitive. The women's road race is the headline attraction on Saturday, Oct. 12 while the individual time trial event was today.
Courtesy of www.saturncycling.com
Expectations are high for Saturn's Kimberly Bruckner. This will be her second consecutive world championships appearance. In 2001, Bruckner won both the road and time trial national title and the Tour de Suisse Feminine. This season, she's posted strong results with a stage-win at the Solano Bicycle Classic and finished second at Sea Otter. Joining Bruckner will be former mountain biker Amber Neben, also making her second consecutive world championships appearance. Neben rides for the Team T-Mobile team and has posted strong results this season. She won the Gracia Cez race in the Czech Republic and finished fourth overall at the Vuelta a Castilla y Leon. Neben was also second in this year's Housatonic Valley Classic.
Amber Neben and Kimberly Bruckner finished 15th and 16th in the Elite Women's Time Trial today. Not bad!
Providing strong support will be Dede Demet-Barry, a veteran rider who brings a wealth of experience to her eighth world championships. Also riding is Mari Holden, who won the gold medal in the 2000 Worlds individual time trial event in 2000 in Plouay, France, along with a silver medal in the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney in the individual time trial event and also took the USCF national road cycling championship in the individual time trial. In 1999, she won the National Road Race Title, and has had a string of strong results this year. An accomplished and seasoned pro, Holden rides with T-Mobile and will be making her seventh consecutive world championships appearance this year.
Tina Mayola-Pic and Laura Van Gilder round out the team. Both riders are coming into October fresh off excellent late season performances with podium appearances at the U.S. Criterium Nationals in Downer's Grove and the Manhattan Beach Grand Prix.
MEN'S ROAD TEAM
ELITE MEN'S TIME TRIAL
ELITE WOMEN'S ROAD
ELITE WOMEN'S TIME TRIAL