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Armstrong says Olympic road racing would benefit from bigger teams

American Kristin Armstrong is making only her second appearance at the Olympic Games, but she already has a few ideas about how to improve things — particularly when it comes to the women’s road race. Although road cycling is a team sport, the Olympic format makes it more of an individual event, says the 35-year-old from Boise, Idaho.

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By Fred Dreier

American Kristin Armstrong is making only her second appearance at the Olympic Games, but she already has a few ideas about how to improve things — particularly when it comes to the women’s road race.

Although road cycling is a team sport, the Olympic format makes it more of an individual event, says the 35-year-old from Boise, Idaho.

Sixty-seven women will take part in the road race, all competing for national teams. Under Olympic rules, no country may field a team with more than three riders, and many send only one. With such small numbers, team tactics don’t truly come into play, because riders don’t want to exert themselves too early in the race. And once teams are racing as individuals, the races become either a battle of attrition or a bunch sprint.

To avoid this, Armstrong said, she would increase the number of riders on each team.

“I understand that perhaps the depth isn’t there for every country, but cycling is a team sport, so each country should have equal representation, whether it’s four, three or just two riders,” she said. “We should all be equal.”

Armstrong also believes that each member of the winning team should receive a gold medal, not just the rider who crosses the finish line first. Since riders work together to help a teammate win, everyone should receive a medal.

“Just like any other team sport, if you win, everyone deserves a medal,” Armstrong said. “The Olympics is looking for individual effort if they’re only going to award one medal. [Road] cycling isn’t just an individual effort. It’s a team sport.”

Will Armstrong’s efforts help the U.S. team to victory on Sunday? Stay tuned to www.velonews.com to find out.