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

Who joins McDonald?

The top of the U23 category is clear — but that is it. Zach McDonald has proven the class of the field in the U.S. this fall, save for Yannick Eckmann (Cal Giant-Specialized), who will likely miss worlds after applying for dual German-U.S. citizenship this year.

Beyond McDonald, the espoirs group will likely comprise development riders like Cal Giant teammates Cody Kaiser and Tobin Ortenblad; first-year U23 Andrew Dillman (Bob’s Red Mill); mountain bike worlds team member Skyler Trujillo (Boo); Marian University sophomore Joshua Johnson; and former mountain bike nationals podium finisher Chase Dickens (American Classic).

“Over 10 years, it always seems we have a lot of range in the U23,” said Eurocross Camp director Geoff Proctor, who will take a number of the espoir and junior riders to Belgium in December. “We’re more wide open in the U23 historically for a number of reasons.”

Those reasons include school commitments and the physical differences between 18-year-olds and 22-year-olds, according to Proctor, who will take a full roster of U23 and junior men to the Zolder World Cup the day after Christmas. That day in Zolder will give a good look at who the four riders we’ll see with McDonald might be. At this point, it appears the two young men with the inside line are Ortenblad and Dillman. Beyond them, the selection is, as Proctor says, wide open.

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