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By VeloNews Interactive
The women’s domestic road racing scene will have a new addition this year in the form of a U.S. national team sponsored by Cannondale. The team will go by the name Cannondale USA and will be led by Olympic silver medalist Mari Holden.
Supported by grants from the United States Olympic Committee, the team will tackle an ambitious international schedule, focusing on World Cups and major stage races including La Grande Boucle Feminine (women’s Tour de France) and the HP Women’s Challenge.
Jeff Pierce, former director of sports marketing at GT and recently hired by USA Cycling as vice president of athletics, said the team aims to be competitive with the world’s top trade teams.
“Our goal is to become a dominant force in women’s international cycling,” Pierce said. “This is a comprehensive program that identifies athletes with world-class potential, develops their physiological abilities, skills and experience, and provides them with everything required to excel at an elite level.”
Joining Holden, who also has six national championships to her name, is former AutoTrader.com rider Kim Smith, who in 2001 posted five top-10 finishes in U.S. races. Also on the team will be former mountain-bike racer Amber Neben, top-10 HP finisher Lara Ruthven, Katrina Berger, Dotsie Cowden and Missy Thompson.
The 2002 Cannondale USA team will focus on road racing, but according to USA Cycling, has future plans to add track racing and mountain biking programs.
“With a comprehensive program in place, we can help these athletes be consistent winners year after year in Olympic, Pan Am and world championship competition,” said USA Cycling CEO Lisa Voight.
The team will kick off the season with a training camp in San Diego, February 1-10, before heading to Australia for the World Cup opener in Canberra.