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Road world championships: Team USA earns seven spots for women’s road race, six for men’s

A strong 2022 season sees Team USA with plenty of options for the women's and men's teams.

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Team USA can take a full complement of seven riders for the women’s road race and six for the men’s for the road worlds in Wollongong, Australia next month.

The UCI finally published its world championship quotas this week with nations earning spots in the various road races depending on their positioning in the world ranking on August 16.

With riders like Kristen Faulkner, Veronica Ewers, and Krista Doebel-Hickok consistently performing at a high level this season, the USA managed to secure a top-five placing in the women’s world rankings.

It means that Team USA will be allowed to bring seven riders, compared to six last year, the same number as cycling powerhouses Netherlands, Italy, France, and Belgium.

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Faulkner, Ewers, and Doebel-Hickok are likely selections for the seven-woman team, along with the likes of Coryn Labecki, and Leah Thomas. Labecki was the top finisher for the team in Leuven last year, taking 10th place in the uphill sprint.

The hilly course could be decided by a small bunch sprint or a breakaway group, depending on how it is raced. Countries will have to bring multi-faceted lineups to account for both eventualities.

This year’s women’s road race will have the added element of a race within a race as, for the first time, an under 23 title will be awarded to the first rider in that category to cross the line. Though there has been increased pressure on the UCI to create a U23 women’s category, the decision to encompass it within the elite women’s race has been heavily criticized.

The men’s lineup for Team USA will once again consist of six riders after it secured 14th place in the world rankings. The full quota of eight riders went to those nations ranked in the top 10 on August 16 with the likes of Belgium, France, Slovenia, and home country Australia making the cut.

America has a growing contingent of young riders at the top level of the sport and this season saw seven riders from the country go to the Tour de France. Selection for the six slots will be hotly contested.

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Neilson Powless scored Team USA’s best men’s performance in over 20 years when he finished fifth in Leuven. The U.S. does not have any out-and-out sprinters in the men’s field, but it does have riders that could help force a breakaway, including Powless.

Sepp Kuss, Matteo Jorgenson, Quinn Simmons, Brandon McNulty, Joe Dombrowski, and Kevin Vermaerke are likely to be on the long list.

Further north, Canada has earned four places in the men’s road race while the women will have five starters. Alison Jackson has been on good form throughout the 2022 season and will be a strong contender to lead the women’s team in Wollongong.

Michael Woods has been Canada’s strongest performer so far this season but a possible ride in Australia has been put in doubt after he crashed out of the Vuelta a España, suffering a concussion in the crash.

The final selection for Team USA is expected to be announced in the next week with the competition scheduled to start on September 18 with the individual time trials. Each nation will be allowed select at least two riders for the ITTs with extra slots available for the world champion and the continental champions.

Unlike at the Olympics, time trial starters do not have to be selected from the road race lineup and it’s possible for riders to travel just for the event. There is also the Mixed Team Relay, which will be run on the middle Wednesday of the competition.