Team selection for the upcoming UCI Track World Championships in Copenhagen, Denmark is not easy for any national federation. USA Cycling has a difficult task ahead of them as riders were only able to qualify eleven start positions this year. This is the lowest number of qualified spots in at least 7 years.
Start positions for the UCI Track World Championships are determined primarily by UCI points earned in sanctioned events. The majority of the points come from the UCI Track World Cup season; additionally riders can qualify start positions at Continental Championships and other UCI events. Taylor Phinney (Trek/Livestrong) is also awarded a start position in the Individual Pursuits, as the reigning World Champion, bringing the US total to twelve.
In 2009, with 16 start positions qualified, USA Cycling sent only 4 riders to the World Championships: Colby Pearce, Daniel Holloway, Phinney and Shelley (Olds) Evans. Phinney returned with a gold medal in the pursuit and silver in the kilometer, the rest of the riders came home empty handed.
The US Team will not be announced until March 5th; however one rider has confirmed he will be in Copenhagen. Phinney told us "I am riding the pursuit and the omnium... I am still trying to decide whether or not to do kilo again."
With two kilometer start positions qualified and Jimmy Watkins, the Pan American Champion injured, Giddeon Massie is a likely pick selection for the kilometer as well as the one open sprint position.
There is no strong favorite for the men's endurance positions. Cody O'Reilly (Bissell Pro Cyclign) earned the Scratch Race position in Beijing. The team did not earn a Points Race start for the first time in many years. With the Madison eliminated from the Olympics, it is conceivable that the US would forfeit this start position. Another interesting option might be Phinney and O'Reilly. Pearce and Holloway have shown good form at the Copenhagen Six, which could help them earn a trip back to the World Championships.
On the Women's side of the track - Sarah Hammer (Empower Coaching Systems) returned to World Cup competition earlier this year to ensure herself an opportunity to race at the World Championship in both the Individual and the Team Pursuit.
Having done just that, Hammer is a likely choice for both of those events. The Team Pursuit squad that included Hammer, Dotsie Bausch (Empower Coaching Systems) and Lauren Tamayo (Peanut Butter & Co/TWENTY12) are all training together at the UCI Center in Switzerland.
Evans has earned World Cup medals and is showing strong form in the women's Tour of New Zealand and would be a good selection for the mass start events.
While the US failed to qualify a large number of start positions, it appears as if there will be two riders with rainbows on their sleeves racing in Copenhagen. A good team selection could make this a very successful Championship bid for the American team.
USA Qualified Start Positions
Men's Kilometer: 2
Men's Sprint: 1
Men's Scratch: 1
Men's Madison: 1
Men's Omnium: 1
Women's Pursuit: 1
Women's Points Race: 1
Women's Scratch Race: 1
Women's Team Pursuit: 1