With a gold, a silver and a bronze medal at Athens in 2004, America enjoyed its finest showing ever in the road events in a non-boycotted Olympics. The 2008 men's and women's road teams appear even stronger than in Athens. Bruce Hildenbrand talked with USA's men's road team manager Jim Ochowicz to get his uptake on the team, the competition, the course and the environment.
The Olympics are unique in that most professional races allow teams of up to nine riders which gives a director a lot of options when it comes to strategy and tactics. But at the Games the squads are relatively small with a maximum of five riders in the men's road race.
"You can do a lot more with nine riders than you can do with five over the same distance. In the World Championships a team like Italy typically spends a lot of time controlling the race. It is not so easy at the Olympic Games with only five riders per team. You can't put all five guys on the front so you are limited with your head count in terms of how you use them and strategically it becomes a little bit more challenging," noted US manager Ochowicz.
George Hincapie is making his fifth appearance in the Olympic Games dating all the way back to 1992 in Barcelona. "George is a natural selection. He has been there. He has done it all. He has been on four previous Olympic teams. He has a good sense of how that five-man roster works. And for him, when to use his power and when not to," noted Ochowicz.
"George's performances have always been consistent and he is always a threat to win particularly at the end in a small group or even going away maybe alone because the guy can time trial. George is certainly a wild card so we will let him have a lot of flexibility. And if it comes down to the last lap and he is there he is the best sprinter we got," added the founder and director of America's first professional team, 7-Eleven.
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