At the start of competition for the 2005 UCI World Track Championships (March 24 - 27, 2005), the US national team is ready for the the competition that includes 78 riders that competed at the Athens Olympic Games last August. Naturally, the 10-member squad that will wear the stars and stripes are hoping for strong performances on home turf - here's a preview of how they size up against the competition in their respective events:
Erin Mirabella (La Habra, Calif.) Women's Points Race, Women's Individual Pursuit: Mirabella's bronze medal in the 2004 Olympic points race behind was easily the best moment of her career. The Southern California resident will also rely on a home field advantage that helped guide her to a points race win in December's UCI World Cup race at the ADT Event Center just three months ago. However, Slyusareva has won the last four world championship points race competitions (2001-2004) and will be a marked woman. The points race is the stronger of Mirabella's two endurance-based events, but the absence of Sarah Ulmer (NZl) and Katie Mactier (Aus), who went 1-2 respectively at both the 2004 world championships, could aid her in achieving a better result in the women's 3km individual pursuit.
Colby Pearce (Boulder, Colo.) Men's Points Race, Madison: Second at the World Cup in L.A. and third in the Manchester, Great Britain World Cup a month later, Pearce is coming off a successful international season that saw him hold the overall World Cup lead until surrendering it to 2004 Olympic gold medalist Mikhail Ignatiev (Rus) after forgoing the final round in Sydney. Challenging Pearce in the points race will be Ignatiev and endurance specialist Sergi Escobar (Spa). Pearce will also team with Marty Nothstein for the Madison, where the duo was fifth at the World Cup in Manchester this year. Belgium, Ukraine, France and Germany have all won World Cups and are strong teams, but the Madison is an event where anything can happen.
Jennie Reed (Kirkland, Wash.) Women's Keirin, Women's Sprint: The first world championship medalist since 1998 at last year's event in Melbourne, Australia, Reed enters this year's world championships with promising performances in the keirin under her belt. Dropping the 500 meter time trial from her repertoire, Reed is focusing on the head-to-head events that could often times be considered full-contact sports. The early favorite on paper is Anna Meares (Aus), the world record-holder in the 500m time trial and two-time medalist at last summer's Olympic Games. With Olympic champion Lori-Ann Muenzer (CAN), World Cup champion Tamilia Abassova (RUS), Meares, Frisoni and Natalia Tsylinskaya (BLR) all toeing the line, Reed will have her work cut out for her in the sprint.
Christian Stahl (Bethany, Conn.) Men's Keirin: A member of the team sprint squad in Athens and the reigning Pan-American champion in the one kilometer time trial, Stahl has shifted his focus away from those events with an eye on the keirin. The usual suspects of top sprinters - Theo Bos (Ned) Rene Wolff (Ger), Teun Mulder (Ned), Jose Antonio Villanueva (Esp), Arnaud Tournant (Fra), Shane Kelly (Aus), Mickael Bourgain (Fra) And Jamie Staff (GBr) - are all scheduled for the keirin in L.A. and will certainly push Stahl to his limits.
Giddeon Massie (Colorado Springs, Colo.) Men's Sprint, Men's Keirin: Like Stahl, Massie will have his work cut out for him in the top-heavy keirin, in cycling's best impersonation of NASCAR. Unfortunately for Massie, he will have to face a similar field in the sprint, as all of the top keirin riders are likely to double-up. Massie is the Pan-American champion in both the keirin and the sprint, but when the field expands to include the European talent, it's a whole new ball game.
Marty Nothstein (Orefield, Pa.) Madison: The most decorated U.S. track cyclist with an Olympic gold in the 2000 sprint and a silver in the 1996 games, the 2005 World's will be Nothstein's swansong. Turning his focus to road racing and limited track appearances at European six-day events and select keirin and madison competitions, Nothstein hopes to end his stellar career on a high note. Argentina is returning half of their world championship duo from a year ago, Juan Curuchet, and teams from the Czech Republic, Belgium, Ukraine, France and Germany will pose the biggest threats.
Bobby Lea (Mertztown, Pa.) Individual Pursuit: An eighth-place performance at the Sydney World Cup marks his best individual result of the season and the field in Los Angeles will feature key riders with a history of strong results stacking the cards against Lea. Defending world champion Sergi Escobar (Spa), Olympic silver medalist Robert Hayles (GBr) overall World Cup winner Levi Heimans (Ned) are the heavyweights here.
James Carney (Durango, Colo.) Men's Scratch: No stranger to success, the 1992 and 2000 U.S. Olympian opened the 2004/05 World Cup season with a win in the scratch race in Moscow and finished the World Cup series third overall. A tactically savvy rider with loads of experience, Carney could also find himself on the podium in an event that favors those who have just that. Carney's competition is pretty wide open, although defending champ Greg Henderson (NZl) will be on hand looking to repeat. Alex Rasmussen (Ned), Wim Stroetinga (Ned) and Jerome Neuville (Fra) took wins in the other three World Cups this year and represent the strongest challengers to Carney.
Rebecca Quinn (Quakertown, Pa.) Women's Scratch: Quinn has had a respectable World Cup season that included a silver medal performance at the Manchester World Cup with a fourth-place overall standing in the series. Katherine Bates (AUS) finished her World Cup season strong with a first and second-place finish respectively at the final two World Cups in Manchester and Sydney and looks to be the top contender in an otherwise wide-open race.
Rebecca Conzelman (Cincinnati, Ohio) Women's Sprint, 500m TT: Conzelman will be looking for a breakthrough ride at worlds against a strong women's sprint field. With not much strategy involved in the 500 meter time trial, that leaves the event open to the fastest of sprinters like Frisoni, Tsylinskaya, Pendleton, Muenzer and Yvonne Hijgenaar (Ned).