USA Cycling last week announced the roster for the junior and U23 riders who will represent the US during February's UCI Cyclo-Cross World Championships in Bogense, Denmark, but the decision not to fill the fifth allocated spot for the U23 women sparked some controversy on social media.
USA Cycling earned five spots for the U23 men, U23 women and junior men, choosing to send six riders for the U23 men and juniors [because Pan American champions for the U23 and junior categories get an automatic invitation that doesn't count against the allotted spots - ed.] but only sending four with the U23 women.
The U23 women's roster includes recently crowned US champion Clara Honsinger (Team S&M CX), junior women's champion Katie Clouse (Alpha Bicycle Co / Groove Subaru), Emma Swartz (Trek Cyclocross Collective) and Maddie Munro (Boulder Junior Cycling).
The issue quickly blew up on Twitter, with prominent US riders chiming in and questioning the decision. Ellen Noble, who finished second in the U23 world championships in January of 2017, pointed out that she finished sixth in her first junior nationals when she was 17, then was second at U23 worlds when she was 21, just seconds off the win.
"I don't think anyone would have considered me 'medal potential' based on those early years," Noble wrote. "I believe in supporting athletes at all points in their journey."
In a statement to CX Magazine, USA Cycling said "only three U23 women riders met the qualifications in the selection criteria for the World Championships team, and we selected one rider as a discretionary nomination based on her future medal capability.”
“The discretionary selections are only for athletes deemed to be current or future medal capable by our coaches and approved by the selection committee," USA Cycling said in its statement to CX Magazine. "Based on the fact that Maddie [Munro] will be a junior in the first junior Worlds for women and is performing as she is currently, we felt she was future medal capable. She’s the only one though from the athletes who petitioned.”
Explaining the selection for the U23 men and juniors, USA Cycling told CX Magazine: “For the U23 men and Junior men, the maximum start spots is five, and the Continental Champion receives an exclusive invitation to the World Championships. So, five riders were selected according to the criteria in each of those categories, plus we were able to send a sixth as each of the continental champions in both Junior men and U23 men were American riders.”
Among the other competitors USA Cycling is sending to Bogense are several 2018 national champions, crowned earlier this month at the USA Cycling National Championships in Louisville, Kentucky. Spencer Petrov (Cannondale p/b Cyclocrossworld.com), Alex Morton (Cannondale p/b Cyclocrossworld.com), as well as three 2018 Pan American Champions: Hosinger, Magnus Sheffield (Cannondale p/b Cyclocrossworld.com) and Gage Hecht (Alpha Bicycle Co / Groove Subaru), who was eligible for the U23 race at nationals but chose to race with the elites instead. Hecht finished third in that race.
"I am really excited about the level of talent and ability in these young riders that are representing USA Cycling at the 2019 UCI Cyclocross World Championships," said Jesse Anthony, cyclo-cross manager for USA Cycling, "I believe their massive investments this season will produce big performances in Bogense, and I couldn't be more proud of these young riders for the commitment they've shown to this sport."
Gage Hecht (Alpha Bicycle Co / Groove Subaru)
Spencer Petrov (Cannondale p/b Cyclocrossworld.com)
Brannan Fix (Alpha Bicycle Co / Groove Subaru)
Lance Haidet (Donnelly Pro Cyclocross)
Sam Noel (Cannondale p/b Cyclocrossworld.com )
Cooper Willsey (Cannondale p/b Cyclocrossworld.com)
Clara Honsinger (Team S&M Cyclocross)
Katie Clouse (Alpha Bicycle Co / Groove Subaru)
Emma Swartz (Trek Cyclocross Collective)
Maddie Munro (Boulder Junior Cycling)
Magnus Sheffield (Cannondale p/b Cyclocrossworld.com)
Alex Morton (Cannondale p/b Cyclocrossworld.com)
Nick Carter (KCCX Elite Cyclocross Team)
Andrew Strohmeyer (CTS Cycling Team)
Jared Scott (Boulder Junior Cycling)
Lucas Stierwalt (Lionhearts Junior Racing)
At 17, I finished 6th in my first Junior Natls.— Ellen Noble (@ellenlikesbikes) December 21, 2018
At 21, I was 2nd at the World Champs, just seconds off the win.
I don't think anyone would have considered me 'medal potential' based on those early years.
I believe in supporting athletes at all points in their journey.