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

Mad dash for discretionary picks

On the women’s side, if no more women were to auto-qualify — and that’s a big “if,” given Amy Dombroski’s (Telenet-Fidea) consecutive 11th-place World Cup finishes — two of the three discretionary picks will almost certainly go to Dombroski and Georgia Gould (Luna).

While Gould, who came into the ’cross season fresh off her bronze-medal rides in the Olympic and world championship cross-country races, hasn’t raced in Europe this fall, history — and her 2012 results — has proven that she’ll likely be able to ride from the U.S. circuit onto the worlds team. Dombroski brings the valuable mix of being young, capable of a top-15, and employed by the highest-profile team in the sport.

From there, there will likely be a scramble for the last selection between Maureen Bruno-Roy (Bob’s Red Mill-Seven), who has already tackled multiple European stints in 2012; Meredith Miller (Cal Giant-Specialized), who returned over the weekend at CXLA from a fractured hand; Nicole Duke (Alchemy Bicycle Company), who is on the mend from early-season health issues; the young and upward-trending Crystal Anthony (Cyclocrossworld.com); and Spooky Cross winner Teal Stetson-Lee (Luna).

Multiple sources have told VeloNews that the selection between these riders is a coin toss at this point. Duke was the second-best American woman at worlds in 2012, but has struggled through the first half of the season before landing at Alchemy. Miller could ride herself back into the picture if she can prove herself in Bend and Zolder, though she’ll likely need to be one of the top three Americans in the latter to hold a realistic shot at Louisville.

And then there’s Bruno-Roy, who sits fourth for Americans in the UCI standings, at 29th, and is a two-time worlds team member. Bruno-Roy has proven herself capable of a top-20 ride on the World Cup, but is also one of the most well-liked athletes among the top U.S. women — a characteristic that Gullickson said generally contributes to discretionary selections, though he would not address any specific riders.

The short of the elite women’s qualifying picture is that the next six weeks should see an all-out scramble by Dombroski, Miller, Duke and the others to secure an invite to the Bluegrass State in February. Most of the contenders will head to Europe from Bend, making for an entertaining Kerstperiode for American fans.

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