It's been a long and busy spring for Jeremiah Bishop (Cannondale Factory Racing) as he travelled the globe chasing results in an attempt to qualify for the US Olympic Mountain Bike Team. Well, the chase is over after the La Bresse World Cup this past weekend in France, but the waiting game is not. Bishop, who was named to the US Olympic Long Mountain Bike Team in late 2011, will have to wait to find out if he is going to London until USA Cycling names the final US Olympic Team on June 15.
"I'm proud to have put in the top US performance there," said Bishop of his 27th place finish in La Bresse, France on Sunday. He was the best placed American in the elite men's cross country race.
Bishop shared his impressions of the course that many called "old school". "It was a great course, but being that it was narrow, I wasn't sure how far I'd be able to move up. I started in the mid-90s in the grid. The course was wet and there was a lot of running on the first lap, but I punched through. It was like the wolverine in the chicken house."
"I probably wouldn't have used the words 'old school'. I think it if was old school, the course would have been less technical. It was an extremely technical course, with a natural surface and lots of technical features. Maybe what people meant is that it had a significant elevation gain, with one big uphill and one big downhill." Like many ski resort-based races of the past.
The US will get to send two men and two women to the Olympic Games in London in 2012.
"None of us men met the mandatory selection criteria," said Bishop. "We all have our reasons that we think we fit the bill to go. It's going to be a tougher decision [for USA Cycling] this time around."
"We all have different scenarios, with things happening... like Todd Wells getting injured. I put together a great race and showed I'm on form to put together a great race for August."
Bishop finished second at the Olympic Test Event last year in late July and was happy to see his form coming around at the World Cups after the first few rounds didn't go as well as he'd hoped.
"It's motivating to have done such a good ride and get some serious action in that last World Cup. I was unable to prove my form in Nove Mesto [at the World Cup]. I was caught in huge pile up in Nove Mesto and ripped my derailleur cable so I had two gears only that whole time. I lost time monkeying with my derailleur and having to get on and off. I did manage to finish on the leader's lap though."
"The Olympic course is a special purpose-built course. I had second best lap time for three to four laps at the Olympic Test Event after Julien Absalon. I was up there with the other top riders, but the picks will come down to USA Cycling's discretion." Bishop was fourth at the Olympic Test Event.
Whether or not he makes the US Olympic Team, Bishop said it won't change his training and racing plan in the near term. He's intended all along to ramp up for May. He's got a few more races, including defending his title at the Trans-Sylvania Epic mountain bike stage race next week, and then he'll enjoy some time at home in Harrisonburg, Virginia, racing the Massanutten Hoo Ha! before switching his focus to the two North American World Cups in Mont-Sainte-Anne, Quebec and Windham, New York.
"I plan on taking a bit of a rest before Mont-Sainte-Anne and Windham. I want to hit those hard because they are home turf World Cups, and it's a great opportunity for Cannondale Factory Racing. We're ranked second in the world, and if I can contribute points like last weekend, maybe I can help with our ranking."
"I'm still training for the Olympics, and there are alternatives if I'm not on the team."
In the mean time, he's looking forward to a week of stage racing in Pennsylvania. "The cross country scene is fun, but it's a lot of travelling and sitting around. This will be a great block of training and exciting racing. I think Christian Tanguy and Sam Koerber will make it tough at the Trans-Sylvania."