On Saturday USA Cycling announced the six-man squad for the elite men’s road race at the 2017 UCI World Championships in Bergen, Norway. The riders are Brent Bookwalter, Joey Rosskopf and Tejay van Garderen (BMC Racing), Nate Brown and Alex Howes (Cannondale-Drapac), and Kiel Reijnen (Trek-Segafredo). Rosskopf, the 2017 U.S. national time trial champion, and van Garderen will also compete in the individual time trial.
“I always relish the chance to race with Team USA and I’m honored to be lining up with a great group of guys, many of whom I’ve gotten to know well over the years and always wish I could race with them more,” Bookwalter told VeloNews. “We may not have a flashy medal favorite but we will be fighting with that team USA spirit and I’m sure we will leave our mark on the race.”
The entire team is made up of riders from the WorldTour and represent all three American-based WorldTour teams (Cannondale-Drapac, Trek-Segafredo, and BMC Racing).
“I am excited about this team,” said USA Cycling VP of High Performance, Jim Miller. “We have six motivated and committed guys, and we aren’t traveling to Norway to sit in the peloton.”
There is definitely no lack of strength among the squad. Van Garderen won a stage of the Giro d’Italia back in May and is slated to finish 10th overall at the Vuelta a España. Brown wore the polka-dot jersey at the Tour de France and Howes recently won a stage of the Tour of Alberta.
Bergen presents a course suitable to the strengths of the squad with a tough climb midway through the circuit, but a flat run-in to the finish. Many expect the race to come down to a reduced bunch sprint. Howes, Bookwalter, and Reijnen are all known to pack a quick finish.
“I haven’t had a chance to ride the course in person, but from what I have read and heard from others it sounds like a reduced field sprint after a short climb,” Reijnen told VeloNews. “So if it were a Cat. 3 race I would be practicing my victory salute already. That being said this is the world championships and the course probably suits a 100 guys who are all chomping at the bit. Having a course like this doesn’t hurt my chances though that’s for sure.
“In the past few years we have had guys up there in the mix at the finish, in the top 20. Which, when you think of the caliber of racers present, isn’t something to scoff at. But we have also been there and done that. I would like to see the team play a more creative roll in the race, roll the dice and see what happens. I don’t call the shots though, I just pedal hard. We have a great group of guys that all are willing to die on a sword for each other so I’m sure we will make a dent in the race. Shake ‘n bake.”
Howes said on his selection, “I couldn’t be more excited about my call up for Worlds. Representing the U.S.A. is always an honor and a privilege. This year looks like a real race for the hard men. The climbing on the circuit might not look like much but with the race being 276km long and with the icy rain, the final will be an absolute brawl. Last time I raced over 260km in foul weather was 2016 Liege and I finished with the hitters. Right now the legs are good so I hope to be up there again.”
The elite women’s, U23 men’s and women’s, and junior men’s and women’s squads had been previously announced. Racing starts Sunday, September 17 with the team time trial. The elite time trials will be September 20 and 21 for men and women, respectively. The women’s road race will run Saturday, September 23, with the men closing out the week on Sunday.
Elite men’s team
Brent Bookwalter (Asheville, NC/BMC Racing Team)
Nate Brown (Covington, TN/Cannondale-Drapac Pro Cycling)
Alex Howes (Boulder, CO/Cannondale-Drapac Pro Cycling)
Kiel Reijnen (Bainbridge Island, WA/Trek-Segafredo)
Joey Rosskopf (Decatur, GA/BMC Racing Team)
Tejay Van Garderen (Aspen, CO/BMC Racing Team)