Olympic hopefuls boost American team
The American women's team Exergy Twenty12 has this week announced two more Olympic hopefuls for its roster, US sprinter Theresa Cliff-Ryan and dual Swiss champion Pascale Schnider.
Schnider, who will relocate full-time to the USA next season, currently holds national titles in the road race, time trial and omnium, and is targeting those events at the London Olympic Games in 2012. She will focus on the UCI Track World Cup and World Championships to help qualify spots with the Swiss National Team.
Cliff-Ryan comes to the squad after two seasons with the Colavita team where she rode alongside two-time world champion Giorgia Bronzini. The team folded suddenly last month, and while a number of the riders and staff will move to a new team under the Kelly Benefit Strategies organisation, Cliff-Ryan had already inked a deal to join Exergy prior to the team's demise.
"I chose Exergy because they are very committed to getting athletes to their goals. They have an Olympics focus. I wanted to match my personal goals to a team with the same goals," Cliff-Ryan told Cyclingnews.
While the team may not have as strong of a European focus, Cliff-Ryan said she doesn't see the move as a step down, but a step toward her goal of making Team USA for the Olympic Games in London.
"Yes, this year, Exergy is a domestic only program but they are working with USA cycling to get me rides in international events where I can gain valuable UCI points. I will also be riding alongside riders like Kristin Armstrong... need I say more!"
The women's allocations for the Olympics will not be decided until May 31, 2012, and with only 67 places on offer in the road race and 25 in the time trial, Cliff-Ryan and the other American women will face stiff competition to earn the maximum four places per country for the mass-start event.
Cliff-Ryan has scored a bronze medal in the Pan American Championships this year, adding to her extensive palmares on the domestic scene. As one of the country's top sprinters, Cliff-Ryan will be one of the USA's best hopes for a medal in London.
"The Olympics have been a goal of mine since I was 10, unfortunately my first sport [inline skating] is a non-Olympic sport. Anyone that knows me knows this has always been my focus. I have been working towards this goal since I was a kid, especially since I started cycling in 2006. First and foremost, I need points, I need to be prepared for each and every race, but also stay focused on the Olympics. I cannot peak too early."
Cliff-Ryan is currently in Australia with her husband Gary Ryan where she will prepare for a strong early season campaign in the U.S and Europe.