Four-time track world champion Sarah Hammer has been chosen as the sole representative for Team USA at the upcoming UCI Track World Championships to be held in Minsk, Belarus. Hammer’s recent run of form, having taken out the omnium at the Mexico World Cup, sees the 29-year-old as one of the hot favourites when the championships begin on 20 February.
In addition to the omnium, Hammer will compete in the scratch race and individual pursuit - while her London Games silver medal-winning team pursuit squad have not been selected.
Returning to competition without fellow Team USA athletes around her is not unfamiliar to Hammer who was the only rider from the United States to compete at the third round of the UCI Track World Cup in Mexico in mid January.
For a country that dominated the medal tally at the Olympics in London, the cycling contribution was relatively lean - despite Kristin Armstrong closing out her career with gold in the women’s time trial on the road.
Two silver medals were taken home following the London track campaign and Hammer was a significant contributor for both accomplishments. Hammer took silver in the omnium while she also lined up for the women’s team pursuit where Dotsie Bausch, Jennie Reed and Lauren Tamayo formed the team that was dominated by Team GB in the final. The men however, failed to stand atop the podium in a cycling event.
Post Olympic cycles are an interesting time for many federations with USA clearly looking to rebuild over the coming years towards Rio in 2016.
"After the London Games, our coaching staff and myself took the opportunity to take a step back, take a hard look at the changing landscape within the new 'Track Structure' put forth by the UCI, reviewed our current crop of athletes within our own pathways, as well as spent the necessary time to do a comprehensive competitive analysis of our competitors and the athletes within their programs," said USA Cycling vice president of athletics Jim Miller.
"We have several disciplines on the track that we have identified as potential medal opportunities for us. We have already begun to build and develop programs around those changes and the opportunities that exist. I am confident that we can again replicate, if not surpass, the success we and our track athletes enjoyed in London.
"Hammer is a four-time world track champion and became the first American woman to win three medals at a track world championships when she accomplished the feat in 2011. She won a bronze medal in the women's omnium at last year's world championships and followed that up with two silver medals at the London Olympic Games -- one in the omnium and one in the women's team pursuit.
"Sarah is an incredibly gifted, exceptional athlete with a massive work ethic," added Miller "She is a fierce competitor. Sarah has a grueling schedule planned for the 2013 UCI Track World Championships, but I imagine she will exceed even her own expectations."
Hammer will compete in the omnium, scratch race and individual pursuit at the upcoming world championships in Minsk.