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42 cross country and downhill riders named to team headed to Austria
USA Cycling selected 42 athletes who will represent the United States at the 2012 UCI Mountain Bike World Championships in Saalfelden-Leogang, Austria from August 31 to September 9. Cross country, downhill and four cross riders were named.
After representing the United States at the Olympic Games in London, Todd Wells (Specialized Racing) and Sam Schultz (Subaru-Trek) will lead the elite men's cross country squad in Austria. The two are automatic qualifiers by way of their Olympic team nominations. They'll be joined by another automatic nominee, Colin Cares (Kenda-Felt), who is first in the overall US Pro XCT rankings. Also toeing the line will be discretionary picks Stephen Ettinger (BMC Mountain Bike Racing Team), Mitchell Hoke (Team Clif Bar), and Michael Broderick (Kenda-Seven-NoTubes).
Georgia Gould (Luna Pro Team) and Lea Davison (Specialized Racing) will be two more 2012 Olympians to fight for rainbow stripes in Austria. They are joined on the women's cross country team by automatic qualifiers Monique Pua Mata (Sho-air-Specialized) and Heather Irmiger (Subaru-Trek). Mary McConneloug (Kenda-Seven-NoTubes) and Erin Huck (Tokyo Joe's) will round out the women's squad as discretionary nominations.
The US will also field U23 and junior men's and women's squads in the cross country races.
World Cup stand-out Howard Grotts (Specialized Racing) will lead the U23 men. He'll be joined by automatic qualifiers Russell Finsterwald (Subaru-Trek) and Kerry Werner (BMC Mountain Bike Development Team), and by discretionary qualifier Skyler Trujillo (Niner Stans Ergon).
A duo of U23 women will don the red, white and blue. Both automatic qualifiers, Lauren Catlin (Durango Devo) and Deidre York (The Gear Movement-Epic Pro Cycle) will line up to fight for a world title.
In the junior competition, Keegan Swenson (Cannondale Factory Racing), Connor Bell- (Rocktown Racing), and Lucas Newcomb (Whole Athlete-Specialized) are automatic qualifiers for the men's squad while Casey Williams (Whole Athlete-Specialized) will represent the US as a discretionary pick.
Kate Courtney (Whole Athlete-Specialized), Grace Alexander (BMC Mountainbike Development Team), and Shayna Powless (BMC Mountainbike Development Team) all automatically qualified to race in the junior women's event.
All cross country racers will be signed up to race the new eliminator, which will be a world championship event for the first time in Saalfelden.
Leading the men's downhill contingent will be reigning national champion and four-time World Cup winner in 2012, Aaron Gwin (Trek World Racing). He'll be joined on the downhill squad by two other automatic qualifiers who earned their spots by virtue of their World Cup rankings - Luke Strobel and Mitch Ropelato (Monster Energy/Specialized). Rounding out the men's downhill group will be discretionary picks Eliot Jackson, Neko Mulally (Trek World Racing), Logan Binggeli (KHS), and Duncan Riffle (Dirt Norco Race Team).
Having won the dual slalom national championship title this year, Mulally will also compete in the four cross competition at Worlds as an automatic selection. He'll be joined in the four-by-four competition by discretionary pick Blake Carney, who placed second to Mulally at nationals.
In the women's downhill competition, powerhouse riders Jill Kintner (Team Norco International) and Jacqueline Harmony (IXS-510 Smith Optics) earned automatic nominations to the US team. Kintner was fourth in the first World Cup and is ranked 11th overall while Harmony is the reigning national champ and overall US Pro GRT leader. The ladies will be joined by discretionary nominees, Jaime Rees (The Bike Hub) and Lauren Daney (DRD Intense), who were third and fourth respectively in this year's national championships.
In the elite women's four cross, the lone competitor for the US will be Melissa Buhl, who automatically qualified for her start spot by virtue of her dual slalom win at the 2012 US Gravity National Championships.
USA Cycling will also send a junior men's squad to Austria to contest the downhill competition. That squad will be led by automatic qualifiers Richard Rude Jr. (Yeti Fox Shox Factory Race Team), Kevin Littlefield, and Austin Hackett Klaube. They'll be joined by discretionary picks Austin Warren (DRD X-Fusion Intense), Alexander Willie (Intense Cycles), and Cole Picchiattino.
US Team for the 2012 UCI Mountain Bike World Championships
Elite men cross country
Elite women cross country
Monique Pua Mata
U23 men cross country
U23 women cross country
Junior men cross country
Junior women cross country
Elite men downhill
Elite women downhill
Junior men downhill
Richard Rude Jr.
Austin Hackett Klaube
Elite men four cross
Elite women four cross