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Olympic Cycling News Round-up, July 2, 2008

Edited by Greg Johnson

USA Cycling announces Olympic team

By Mark Zalewski, North American Editor

George Hincapie (High Road)
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
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Most of the spots on the USA Olympic Games team for Beijing, China were announced Tuesday by USA Cycling, including the entire men's road race team. George Hincapie (Team Columbia) will make his fifth Olympic start, the only American cyclist to do so. Joining him in the road race will be Levi Leipheimer (Astana), Jason McCartney (CSC) as well as Christian Vande Velde and David Zabriskie of Garmin-Chipotle.

Leipheimer, an Olympian at Athens, Greece in 2004, was the only automatic qualifier for the team due to his third place at the 2007 Tour de France. A USA Cycling statement said the other four picks were "discretionary nominations based on an athlete's capability to medal or otherwise enhance team performance and create a medal capable environment". No rider made the time trial standard so Leipheimer and Zabriskie were discretionary nominations for that discipline, with many strong results from each in recent years. This will be Zabriskie's first Olympics.

In the women's road race Kristen Armstrong (Lifeforce-Cervelo) was the only automatic qualifier in both the road race and time trial, thanks to her silver medal in the time trial at the 2007 UCI World Championships. Armstrong competed in the road race in Athens in 2004. Two more spots for the women are yet to be determined and will be discretionary nominations.

On the track, after the automatic qualifiers were determined at a track selection camp in June, three more names were added to the roster to round out the team. Adam Duvendeck and Giddeon Massie received discretionary nominations for the remaining two men's team sprint positions, while Michael Friedman earned a discretionary nomination for the Madison.

They will join automatic qualifiers Michael Blatchford, Bobby Lea and Taylor Phinney to the men's squad and Sarah Hammer and Jennie Reed to the women's team.

A few open spots exist for the track team still, the one spot for both the men's Keirin and women's points race spots will be announced at a later date. The innaugural BMX Olympic team was mostly decided at the trials race held in San Diego last June.

Men's Road
1 George Hincapie, 35 (Greenville, S.C.) Road Race
2 Levi Leipheimer, 34 (Santa Rosa, Calif.) Road Race, Time Trial
3 Jason McCartney, 34 (Coralville, Iowa) Road Race
4 Christian Vande Velde, 32 (Boulder, Colo.) Road Race
5 David Zabriskie, 29 (Salt Lake City, Utah) Road Race, Time Trial

Women's Road
1 Kristin Armstrong, 34 (Boise, Idaho) Road Race, Time Trial
2 T.B.A.
3 T.B.A.

Men's Track
1 Michael Blatchford, 22 (Cypress, Calif.) Team Sprint, Match Sprint
2 Adam Duvendeck, 26 (Santa Barbara, Calif.) Team Sprint
3 Michael Friedman, 25 (Pittsburgh, Pa.) Madison
4 Bobby Lea, 24 (Mertztown, Pa.) Points Race, Madison
5 Giddeon Massie, 26 (Zionhill, Pa.) Team Sprint
6 Taylor Phinney, 18 (Boulder, Colo.) Individual Pursuit

Women's Track
1 Sarah Hammer, 24 (Temecula, Calif.) Individual Pursuit
2 Jennie Reed, 30 (Kirkland, Wash.) Match Sprint

Men's Bicycle Motocross (BMX)
1 Kyle Bennett, 28 (Conroe, Texas)
2 Mike Day, 23 (Santa Clarita, Calif.)
3 Donny Robinson, 25 (Napa, Calif.)

Women's Bicycle Motocross (BMX)
1 Jill Kintner, 26 (Seattle, Wash.)

Gerrans: Australia has a fantastic team

By Paul Verkuylen

Simon Gerrans
Photo ©: Shane Goss
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Recently nominated Australian Olympic Games team member Simon Gerrans believes that the squad will be one of the favorites for the Olympic road race title. Gerrans was named in the squad for August's event in Beijing, China alongside Australian champion Matt Lloyd, ProTour champion Cadel Evans and 2007 Paris-Roubaix winner Stuart O'Grady.

"We have a fantastic team," said Gerrans, who will make his Olympic debut in August. "Cadel will be up there with the best climbers in the world, while Stuey is more than capable of finishing it off if it comes to a small bunch kick.

"With just five riders in each team, the tactics will be very interesting in regard to how you use up riders," he added. "I have never ridden a one day race in such a small team, so it will be really interesting."

The 28 year-old will depend on Australian Institute of Sport data gathered at last year's test event. Gerrans wasn't one of the Australians, like Evans, to take part in last year's Good Luck Beijing course preview.

"Although I haven't seen the course, the AIS has collected a lot of data on the course," he said. "We have had meetings and talked about the different elements and what to expect."

Before the team get to the start, three of the five riders are taking part in the Tour de France, with Evans widely touted as the favorite to win. Silence-Lotto's Lloyd and Michael Rogers (Columbia) are sitting out the Tour, with Rogers still recovering from illness.

Rogers was struck down with Epstein Bar virus earlier in the year, which resulted him sit out the majority of the early season. A strong 11th overall in the Critérium du Dauphiné Libéré recently may have been the catalyst for the Australian Olympic Committee to select the three time world time trial champion.

"I won't really be thinking of the Olympics during the Tour," said Gerrans. "Once we are on the Champs Élysées that's when I can start thinking about it. It's just a matter of making sure that I don't get sick and recover well after the Tour."

The Australian team nominated for the Olympic road race consists of: Cadel Evans, Stuart O'Grady, Simon Gerrans, Matthew Lloyd and Michael Rogers. The team will be finalised on July 4 after the outcome of any appeals lodged against non-nomination are closed.

Canada names Willock for women's team

Erinne Willock (Webcor)
Photo ©: Jon Devich
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Canada's governing cycling body, the Canadian Cycling Association, has announced Erinne Willock as its nominee for the women's road racing team for the upcoming Olympic Games to be held in Beijing, China this August. The 26 year-old joins Alex Wrubleski and Leigh Hobson as the North American nation's women's representitives for the upcoming games.

"I am very excited and proud to be representing Canada at the Olympics," said Willock. "I have been working towards achieving this dream for many years. Canada has an incredibly strong women's team and it is exciting to be a part of it. We've really stepped it up this year and showed we can compete with the best."

Wrubleski and Hobson had been announced as the first two nominees two weeks ago, however an appeal over the third spot prevented it from being confirmed. That appeal has since been dropped allowing Willock, a strong climber, to be confirmed as the third nomination.

Willock has been a national team member since 2000 and raced for Canada at the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne, Australia in 2006. She placed 10th in the time trial and 11th in the road race there and at last year's UCI World Championships in Stuttgart, Germany she placed 16th.

Willock's father Martin competed in the team trial at the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles, United States of America. Her uncle Bernie won bronze in the team trial at the 1979 Pan Am Games and was also the 1980 road race national champion.

Jongewaard "very disappointed" with non-selection

Chris Jongewaard has admitted to being "very disappointed" to learn that he won't be going to Beijing, China for this August's Olympic Games after being left off the Australian Olympic roster.

"The Olympics is the biggest sporting event in my eyes," Jongewaard told The Australia. "I have been working my arse off...since 2004."

Jongewaard, one of Australia's top mountain bikers, has been left off the country's team for the Beijing event over behavioural issues, Cycling Australia announced Friday. Despite being the country's highest ranked men's rider, Jongewaard was not considered for the Olympic Games because he is facing charges over a hit-and-run incident last year.

In February of 2007, Jongewaard had been celebrating the birthday of his friend and training partner Matthew Rex when he hit Rex with his car. Rex sustained head injuries and was temporarily placed in a coma, but has since recovered.

"The committee believes it cannot in good faith nominate Chris Jongewaard," the Cycling Australia statement read. "We acknowledge he met the performance criteria but nomination for selection in the Australian team for the Olympic Games is based on more than results."

Jongewaard's case received additional media attention in Australia following the case of Nick D'Arcy, who was thrown off the Australian Olympic swimming squad within days of making the team. D'Arcy was charged with assault after allegedly striking former swimmer Simon Cowley at a Sydney bar on the evening he qualified for the swimming team.

A Court of Arbitration for Sport appeal by the swimmer found that while he had brought the sport into disrepute, Australian Olympic Committee president John Coates didn't have the authority alone to remove D'Arcy. The AOC board then took a vote which saw the swimmer striped of his position, a decision upheld by a second CAS hearing.

The mountain bike spots were awarded to Daniel McConnell and Dellys Starr. Jongewaard had until July 1 to file an appeal with final selections to be determined on July 4.

Riccò in Italy's Olympic road team?

Riccardo Riccò of Team Saunier Duval-Scott thinking of the Olympic Games
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
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Riccardo Riccò could face non-selection for the Olympic Road Race this August even though he recently stated his desire to represent the Italian team. The 24 year-old needs to show his strengths before mid-July, when Directeur Sportif Franco Ballerini will make the final team selection.

Team Saunier Duval-Scott's Riccò stated earlier in the year that he was not interested in the Olympic Games. He indicated that his goals were the Giro d'Italia (he won two stages and finished second overall) and the World Championships in September. However, last week, he said he will race the Tour de France and stated his newfound desire to travel to Beijing.

Saunier Duval has since nominated Riccò to captain the nine-man Tour de France team.

The selection into the five-man Italian National team depends on Ballerini. "I admire Riccò, but remember you don't nominate yourself for the national team," warned Ballerini, the directeur sportif of the 2004 Olympic team that won gold with Paolo Bettini, according to La Gazzetta dello Sport.

Defending champion Bettini, two-time World Champion, is secured of his place an Olympic captain. Damiano Cunego, Davide Rebellin and Franco Pellizotti are likely to fill out the team in what is acknowledged to be a difficult course. Marzio Bruseghin could take the fifth spot in addition to being the soul Italian representative in the time trial. (GB)

Chavanel to skip Olympics

Sylvain Chavanel will skip the Olympics
Photo ©: Fabrice Lambert
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Newly crowned French time trial champion Sylvain Chavanel (Cofidis) has decided not to attend the Olympic Games in Beijing, China, citing his desire to focus on the Tour de France as the main reason for his decision. Pollution, heat and a difficult parcours have also inspired the 29 year-old to skip the Games.

"Frankly, I prefer the World Championships," he told AFP. "I was the Olympic Games in Athens, and I had a great adventure. But in cycling, the Olympics is a bit less important, in the eyes of the public it is better to be world champion."

Chavanel's team manager Eric Boyer disagreed, and said he hoped Chavanel would not regret his decision later. The national technical director Patrick Cluzaud, interviewed Thursday at Semur-en-Auxois, has seemed to take note of the Chavanel choosing.

"I'm not going to push to make sure he goes to Beijing," Cluzaud told AFP. "If Sylvain wants to come, it is his decision to make, but if he wants to back out... There are so many riders who dream..."

The French team can name five riders for the road race and one of the five to contest the time trial in Beijing.

Longo to seventh Olympic Games

Jeannie Longo
Photo ©: Fabrice Lambert
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Frenchwoman Jeannie Longo has been selected for the French team to contest the Olympic Games in Beijing, China from August 8 - 24. It will be the seventh Olympic Games for the 49 year-old, who continued to amaze at the weekend when she claimed yet another French road and time trial title.

Women's cycling appeared for the first time on the Olympic program in 1984, which was also Longo's first appearance. In 1996 Longo, who has contested every Olympics since the women's introduction in 1984, won gold in the road race at Atlanta, Georgia in the United States of America in 1996.

Longo is the most successful women's cyclist of all time. During her career she has won 13 world titles, as well as four Olympic Games medals; with silver medals in the 1992 Barcelona, Spain road race and 1996 time trial, a bronze in the Sydney, Australia Olympic Games time trail in 2000 joining her gold from Atlanta.

Longo has also claimed an impressive 10 UCI World Track Championship medals, including four golds. Nine of those medals were for the three kilometre pursuit, with one coming in the points race at the 1989 event in Lyon, France.

Three of four US Olympic mountain bikers chosen

Todd Wells (USA).
Photo ©: Rob Jones
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USA Cycling named three-quarters of its Olympic team on Tuesday including Todd Wells, Adam Craig and Georgia Gould. One woman's spot remains to be filled.

Wells was the only men's automatic nomination by virtue of earning the highest cumulative placing in his best three UCI Mountain Bike World Cup events of 2008. His finishes included sixth in Vallnord, Andorra, 11th in Houffalize, Belgium, and 13th in Fort William, Scotland. His placing in Andorra was the best of any American male at the World Cup this year.

Craig joins Wells after being selected as a discretionary choice. Craig was the only other American to finish in the top-ten at a World Cup this season, with an eighth in Offenburg, Germany. He logged four total top 20 World Cup finishes including also Houffalize, Andorra and Fort William.

On the women's side, Gould was the only automatic nominee after she earned the highest cumulative placing in her three best 2008 UCI Mountain Bike World Cup performances. Gould logged dual fifth-place finishes in Houffalize and Madrid. She also finished 11th at Fort William.

USA Cycling Director of Athletics and Team Leader for the Beijing squad, Pat McDonough, called the American team "one of the strongest we've had in recent history" and said the squad had medal-winning potential.

The remaining selection to the women's team will be announced by July 15. Mary McConneloug is considered by many to be the favorite candidate by virtue of her standing as the second best American in the World Cup standings thus far in 2008. McConneloug was the sole woman representing the US at the 2004 Olympic Games.

Four Canadian Olympians selected

Marie-Helene Premont (Canada)
Photo ©: Rob Jones
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The Canadian Cycling Association (CCA) announced its team of two men and two women for the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing in August: Marie-Hélène Prémont, Catharine Pendrel, Geoff Kabush and Seamus McGrath. The women and men will race August 22 and 23 respectively.

In mid-June, Prémont finished fourth at the World Championships in Val di Sole, Italy. Showing her consistency on the international scene, she also medalled at all five World Cup events this season so far. In 2004, she won silver at the Olympics in Athens.

"There's more attention on me than four years ago," said Prémont according to the Canadian Cycling Association's website. "But I'm prepared and I will go there to do the best I can. That's the approach I had in Athens and I hope it'll work again this time too. But this year I know what the Olympic Games are about and I think I’ll be more relaxed and more confident."

Her Olympic team-mate Pendrel finished sixth at the World Championships. Pendrel raced last year's Test Event in Beijing and liked the course. "It's physically demanding, there's absolutely no rest on it," she said.

The North American country will field two men with proven international records. Although battling a recent cold at the World Championships, Kabush placed as high as third in a World Cup round earlier this season while McGrath claimed ninth at the Olympics four years ago.

Sean O'Donnel, the CCA's High Performance Manager, believes the team has plenty of potential. "We go into Beijing with a strong chance of earning at least one medal in both the men's and women's event. It's a very experienced team and a very strong team and that bodes well for Canada."

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