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Analysis: U.S. worlds team takes shape ahead of key qualifying period

Just six weeks remain before USA Cycling announces its roster for the 2013 elite cyclocross world championships in Louisville, Kentucky, but much is to be decided for the host nation’s squad of 21 riders.

While national champions Katie Compton (Trek Cyclocross Collective) and Jeremy Powers (Rapha-Focus) are among the riders to have automatically qualified for the team, if the January 14 roster announcement were to be issued today, as many as 13 discretionary selections could find themselves booking flights to the Bluegrass State.

Many of the top contenders will descend on Belgium during the week of December 10. There, they’ll tackle the Kerstperiode races, a slate of seven events over 10 days, bookended by a pair of Bpost Bank Trofee races, the Grand Prix Rouwmoer in Essen on December 22 and the Grand Prix Sven Nys in Baal on January 1. And with the World Cups in Namur and Zolder just three days apart, this will be the most important time for riders to show themselves ready to ride the Kerst bounce to the worlds.

But today, with the fourth round of the World Cup, in Roubaix, France, in the books, where do the four U.S. teams stand?

The team, as of today

If the January 14 deadline were today, eight riders would automatically qualify for the worlds team, based on USA Cycling’s criteria. USA Cycling will determine the worlds team based on a set of criteria for automatic qualification that it published earlier this year. Those criteria form a hierarchy, with the top standard for Americans a top-five World Cup finish between October 21, 2012 and January 6, 2013 (no Americans meet the first criterion, a podium at 2012 worlds). The third criterion, a national championship win, could draw in additional auto-qualifiers in early January, if a rider that has not qualified otherwise takes a win in Madison, Wisconsin.

Powers and Compton would each qualify on three criteria, with Compton getting the nod for having won three rounds of the World Cup this season (she also leads the overall), while Powers meets the fourth criterion as the top-ranked American in the elite men’s standings released November 27. The sixth criterion awards a berth to the top points holder from the North American C1 events — Compton and Powers should each take that honor as well when the Trek U.S. Gran Prix closes out in Bend this weekend.

Joining them would be elite men Ryan Trebon and Tim Johnson (Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld.com), the second- and third-ranked U.S. men in the UCI standings, respectively; Kaitlin Antonneau (Cannondale), who finished ninth in the elite women’s World Cup opener; Zach McDonald (Rapha), who finished fourth for U23 men at the Tabor World Cup; and junior men Logan Owen (Redline) and Curtis White (Hot Tubes).

USA Cycling’s cyclocross program director, Marc Gullickson, expects to fill every one of the United States’ 21 worlds spots, which means that, if the qualifying period ended today, there would be three available slots each for the elite men’s and women’s and junior men’s categories, and four for the U23 men’s group. That’s a lot of room on the bubble for discretionary selections. The USA Cycling selection committee will make those selections between the application deadline of January 4 and the roster announcement.

Automatic qualifiers, if the season ended December 3
Katie Compton (Criteria #2, #4, #5)
Kaitlin Antonneau (Criteria #4)
Jeremy Powers (Criteria #4, #5, #6)
Ryan Trebon (Criteria #4)
Tim Johnson (Criteria #4)
Zach McDonald (Criteria #2, #5)
Logan Owen (Criteria #2, #5)
Curtis White (Criteria #4)

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