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USA's under 23 hopefuls assemble

Tales from the (under-23) peloton, March 1, 2005

The USA's under 23 road and mountain bike teams got together in Chula Vista, California recently for a team presentation and some fitness testing. Mitch Friedman was there to meet the riders and take the pics.

With a break in the bad weather that has drenched California the last couple of weeks it was nice to have a clear day for USA Cycling's under 23 team presentation at the United States Olympic Training Center.

The presentation brought together riders from both the road and mountain bike teams. The two disciplines may have separate riders, but the squads will train together in Europe and the mountain bike specialists will get in some road racing both in the US and on the other side of the Atlantic.

The under-23 mountain bike program is in its second year; last year each of the riders involved in the program managed a podium finish among elite class riders. Matt Cramer, USA Cycling's head of mountain bike development told Cyclingnews that the mountain bike team is run along very similar lines to the road squad, spotting talented riders as juniors and seeking to bring them up into the under 23 program. The mountain bikers will also ride the road for just over a month in Belgium with the road team as well as doing some road races as a composite team mixed up with the road guys. Matt feels that road experience will be hugely useful for mountain bike riders as well as providing excellent fitness conditioning.

Riders at the camp were also subjected to fitness and physiology testing, and I spent some time with road team rider Michael Wolf as he went through physiology tests to determine lactate threshold and VO2Max after a two-hour training ride that morning. Wolf rode with the under-23 team last year in Europe and in the states and he hopes to do well at the Tour de Georgia this year.

Head of testing Michael Shannon conducted the testing with intern Jenny Hansen assisting and despite the attention Wolf said afterwards he didn't feel good during the test. Maybe the two-hour training ride was a mistake, but then fitness testing's not supposed to be fun!

Noel Dajonckheere, the Belgium-based manager of the under-23 road team, says that this year most of the team is returning for the second year and he is looking forward to 2005 with the team. The team will once again be based in Belgium where there are lots of races that cater to under-23 riders - the team expects to get in between 150 and 160 race days. Over the year 20 different riders will be involved in the program and riders will fit trips to the Belgium in with their educational and other commitments.

The program is now in its fifth year and each year has become stronger, more successful and better supported by the sponsors. Everyone involved agreed that the team now gets a lot of respect, as the European riders know that the USA team is there to learn and do well.

US Under 23 team riders at the training camp

Mountain bikers: Sam Schultz, John Devine, Nick Wait

Road team: Steven Cozza, John Murphy, Brad Armstrong, Matt Crane, Kevin Bouchard-Hall, Darby Thomas, Alex Welsh, Luke Pennington, Brad Viera, Zach Bolian, Adam Switters, Kerry Chamberlin, Chris Deluise, Michael Wolf

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