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

Murky juniors race

The most difficult category to predict six weeks out from the worlds selection is the junior men. Logan Owen and Curtis White have automatically qualified based on their World Cup results. It’s hard to imagine a scenario in which Owen doesn’t take the top honors in the USGP qualifiers and one of the two doesn’t win nationals. Owen has won seven straight junior titles and rode away from the field at the Derby City Cup last month.

From there, three discretionary selections remain. Names like Maxx Chance and Spencer Downing (Clif Bar Development), Nathaniel Morse (Hot Tubes) and Peter Goguen (CF-Trek) stand out. But with roadies and mountain bikers dabbling in the discipline and lesser-known riders staying regional until nationals, even Proctor is unsure at this point who the top prospects are for selection.

“Any of these guys are capable,” he said. “I’m pretty encouraged by the future… they all deserve a fair shake.”

Like the U23 men, Zolder — and then nationals — could play a major role in the selection. A top-30 isn’t necessarily going to punch any tickets, but the results sheet, and even more importantly, the way in which the prospects handle themselves on European assignment, will go a long way towards Louisville.

For the junior men — and for every one of the remaining 13 slots across the categories — the U.S. team is very far from solidifying.

As Gullickson says, “Don’t put a strike through anyone’s name at this point.”

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