By Andrew Hood
The U.S. team comes with one of its strongest and competitive squads since 2003 for this year’s 2007 UCI road world championships, set for September 26-30 in Stuttgart, Germany.
The American team, which will be looking to improve on its two-medal haul from last year in Austria, brings defending world time trial champion Kristin Armstrong and such ProTour riders as George Hinicapie, Bobby Julich, Dave Zabriskie and Christian Vande Velde.
Eight elite men, including seven from ProTour teams, eight elite women and six U23 men were named to the U.S. national team as USA Cycling released the official world’s lineup Tuesday.
Armstrong will be back to defend her world time trial championship, and returning silver time trial medalist Zabriskie will be among the favorites to strike medals in the men’s race against the clock.
Included on the elite men’s squad are George Hincapie (Discovery Channel), David Zabriskie (Team CSC), Bobby Julich (Team CSC), Christian Vande Velde (Team CSC), Jason McCartney (Discovery Channel), John Devine (Discovery Channel), Tyler Farrar (Cofidis) and Danny Pate (Slipstream-Chipotle).
All eight will contest the 267km road race while Zabriskie, the defending silver medalist, and McCartney, a recent stage winner at the Vuelta a España, will compete in the time trial.
Representing the women’s team in the road race will be Kristin Armstrong (Team Lipton), Amber Neben (Flexpoint), Christine Thorburn (Webcor Builders), Mara Abbott (Webcor Builders), Tina Pic (Colavita-Sutter Home-Cooking Light), Lauren Franges (Team Lipton) and Katheryn Curi (Webcor Builders).
All seven women will contest the 172km road race as the U.S. secured the maximum number of start positions plus an entry for Pic, the current Pan American road race champion.
The U.S. will also have four time trial entries for the elite women’s category which are filled by defending world champion Armstrong, current Pan American champion Alison Powers (Colavita-Sutter Home-Cooking Light), Neben and Thorburn.
The five athletes representing the United States in the U23 road race will be Peter Stetina (Slipstream-Chipotle), Craig Lewis (Slipstream-Chipotle),Tejay Van Garderen (VMG Racing), Max Jenkins (California Giant) and Tom Peterson (Slipstream-Chipotle).
Van Garderen and U23 national time trial champion Nick Frey (HART) will contest the U23 time trial.
The 2007 UCI Road World Championships begin on Wednesday, September 26, with the U23 men’s and elite women’s time trial. Thursday will feature the elite men’s time trial. Saturday will see the U23 men and elite women contest the road race, while the elite men will contest the road race on Sunday, September 30.
George Hincapie (Greenville, S.C.) – road race
David Zabriskie (Salt Lake City, Utah) – road race, time trial
Bobby Julich (Glenwood Springs, Colo.) – road race
Christian Vande Velde (Boulder, Colo.) – road race
Jason McCartney (Coralville, Iowa) – road race, time trial
John Devine (Dixon, Ill.) – road race
Tyler Farrar (Wenatchee, Wash.) – road race
Danny Pate (Colorado Springs, Colo.) – road race
Kristin Armstrong (Boise, Idaho) – road race, time trial
Amber Neben (Irvine, Calif.) – road race, time trial
Christine Thorburn (Menlo Park, Calif.) – road race, time trial
Lauren Franges (Asheville, N.C.) – road race
Katheryn Curi (Mountain View, Calif.) – road race
Mara Abbott (Boulder, Colo.) – road race
Tina Pic (Dahlonega, Ga.) – road race
Alison Powers (Boulder, Colo.) – time trial
Peter Stetina (Boulder, Colo.) – road race
Tom Peterson (Boulder, Colo.) – road race
Craig Lewis (Spartanburg, S.C.) – road race
Max Jenkins (Berkeley, Calif.) – road race
Tejay Van Garderen (Fort Collins, Colo.) – road race, time trial
Nick Frey (Des Moines, Iowa) time trial
Spain bets on Valverde, Freire
Despite insistence from the UCI that Alejandro Valverde will not be allowed to race at the world championships, Spain continues to count on the beleaguered three-time world’s medal-winner.
Spain promises to bring Valverde, who’s been told by the UCI he won’t be allowed to race because of alleged links to the Operación Puerto doping scandal.
Valverde continues to deny he’s involved, and Spanish authorities have refused to open a formal inquiry against Valverde despite the UCI’s insistence that they have found new evidence against the Caisse d’Epargne rider.
Spanish cycling officials promise to force the issue in front of the Court of Arbitration for Sport in the coming days to try to guarantee Valverde’s presence at the world’s.
“We have a good team. We’ll see what happens with Alejandro in the next couple of days, but we have one of the strongest teams for the world’s, along with the Italians,” said Spain’s national coach, Paco Antequera.
“This isn’t good for anyone, especially not for Alejandro. Now we have him on the official list. We’ll see what happens after the Vuelta finishes on Sunday and we’ll see if we can count on him.”
The team will also count on three-time world champion Oscar Freire, who will be making his first world’s appearance since winning in Verona in 2004. Freire pulled out of the Vuelta after winning three stages in the first 10 days.
Rounding out the always-strong Spanish team will be Carlos Sastre, Carlos Barredo, Samuel Sánchez and Manuel Beltrán, all in the top 10 overall at the Vuelta. Xavier Florencio abandoned the Vuelta last year while Juan Antonio Flecha, Freire’s trusted sidekick at Rabobank, will also be set for Stuttgart.
Spain for world’s: Óscar Freire, Alejandro Valverde, Carlos Sastre, Xavier Florencio, Carlos Barredo, Samuel Sánchez, Manuel Beltrán and Juan Antonio Flecha
Italians spread their chances
The Italians will be playing with several options to win instead of throwing all their weight behind reigning world champion Paolo Bettini.
On Monday, national coach Franco Ballerini revealed his 11-man team, which also includes ambitious riders such as Filippo Pozzato, Danilo Di Luca and Davide Rebellin.
Bettini is coming into form after winning a stage at the Vuelta, just his second win on the 2007 season. Bettini is expected to abandon the Vuelta after Thursday’s stage, but admitted that the team will have more than one option to win.
“This year the team is completely different. We have a very strong team to try to win by playing some different cards,” Bettini said after Tuesday’s stage at the Vuelta. “I already won the world’s and the Olympics, but I only have one rider from my team this year (Tonti).
“This season has been a lot of problems for me. I couldn’t demonstrate what I wanted to in the rainbow jersey. I am normally there at the front. I have a lot of respect for Ballerini. We have a very strong team to try to win with a lot of riders with a little of style of poker.”
One major name missing is Daniele Bennati, winning of the first stage at the Vuelta this year.
Italy for world’s: Paolo Bettini, Danilo Di Luca, Davide Rebellin, Filippo Pozzato, Damiano Cunego, Alessandro Ballan, Alessandro Bertolini, Marzio Bruseghin, Andrea Tonti, Vincenzo Nibali and Giovanni Visconti.
France sans Moreau, but says oui for Longo
French national champion Christophe Moreau won’t be representing the tricolor in Stuttgart, but the eternal Jeannie Longo will.
Veteran Cedric Vasseur, who won the 10th stage of the Tour de France in this his final year of competition, was also left out of the French team. Longo, 48, will compete in the two women’s events, the time trial and the road race.
Sylvain Chavanel, Pierrick Fedrigo and Thomas Voeckler will be the bases of nine-member team, announced by coach Frederic Moncassin and technical director Patrick Cluzaud.
Romain Feillu, who won the Tour of Britain this year, and Sandy Casar, who was the only other Frenchman to win a stage in the Tour de France this year, were also selected.
“Christophe was keen at the start but he hasn’t raced a lot since,” said Cluzaud of Moreau, who dominated in the period June to mid-July but has been absent since then. “It was by mutual agreement that he wasn’t selected.”—Agence France Presse