As the World Cup season heads into its final event, there are a lot of things riding on the competition in Beijing. Sixteen riders from North America are in China, some are looking for experience, some chasing a record, other to qualify start position at the World Championships for the United States or Canada. Six riders from the US and ten from Canada will ensure that North America is represented in virtually every event.
Rapidly becoming one of the most versatile track riders in America, Cari Higgins will be the sole American woman racing in Beijing. Cari flew into the previous World Cup in Cali under-rested, and had a bad experience. She is looking to turn things around in Beijing in the Scratch Race, Points Race and Keirin as she continues her shift from a focus on sprint events to endurance races with a new, refreshed attitude.
Taking a brief break from his work as a professional fire fighter, American Jimmy Watkins has turned his track racing focus entirely to international competition. Jimmy passed on defending his US title last fall for an opportunity to race against some of the best sprinters in the world at the Columbian Grand Prix, and hopes this experience will come in handy as he races the Keirin and Sprint competition in Beijing. The reigning Pan American Champion and National Record holder is looking to bring his sub-10 second 200m speed to Beijing.
The current US National Champion in the Kilometer and Sprints, Giddeon Massie will also be racing in Beijing. Massie's goal for the World Cup is a top 5 finish in the Kilo and qualifying a start position for worlds. After spending the past few months racing World Cups, Revolutions, Australian State Championships, Grand Prix events and Christmas Carnivals, he is at the top of his form and should do well.
From the US National endurance team we have the duo of Cody O'Reilly and Colby Pearce. With two world cup events under his belt, O'Reilly heads into Beijing with a solid goal of qualifying the US start positions for the upcoming world championships. He's spent the past few weeks at the US Track Camp, working with Pearce on their Madison technique and feels that will help in Beijing. O'Reilly will also be riding the Scratch Race, which he feels is the best event for him as he lacks Points Race experience at the international level. With a long list of good Points Race results on his resume, Pearce will take on that challenge.
The only American riding for a trade team is Jame Carney, who will be riding for Team Salamander. This continues his multi-decade assault on international track cycling. After having health issues in Cali, Carney returned to his second home down under for some Carnival racing and training. He's well poised for a good result in that Points or Scratch race.
All three members of the gold medal winning Canadian Team Pursuit squad left Los Angeles after posting some very fast times and headed to Beijing. Tara Whitten, Laura Brown and Stephanie Roorda will be joined by Julia Bradley on the trip as they seek to improve upon their Canadian Record of 3:27 which was set in Cali.
In addition to the Team Pursuit, Whitten will be racing the Pursuit, Scratch and Points Race. After earning a Silver Medal in the Points Race and Pursuit in Cali, she rides into Beijing with some added confidence. Her experience in the Women's Omnium at the 2009 World Championship should help her endure the busy schedule.
On the sprint side of the Canadian Women's team, Monique Sullivan will compete in the Sprints, Keirin and 500m TT events. She's split her winter training between Calgary and Los Angeles and is feeling fit and fast. Looking back on Cali, Monique regrets not trusting her speed, which led to tactical mistakes. She's looking to ride intuitively and aggressively in Beijing.
Zachary Bell will be looking to end his season-long medal drought as he races the Points Race and Scratch Race. Zach won two World Cup medals last year in preparation for his silver medal performance at the World Championships. In Cali, a tactical error cost him a bronze medal. He will surely be looking to ride smarter and move onto the podium.
After a trip to the finals in Cali, the sprint trio of Travis Smith, Joseph Veloce and Stephance Cossette will be racing again. Qualifying third, but going a fraction slower in the finals and earning a fourth place finish in the Team Sprint competition, the team is looking to guarantee a start position for the World Championships. A first year Senior, Allan Leparskas, will be joining the team as an alternate.
Canadian National Team:
Tara Whitten (Team Pursuit, Pursuit, Points Race Scratch Race)
Laura Brown (Team Pursuit)
Steph Roorda (Team Pursuit)
Julia Bradley (Team Pursuit)
Monique Sullivan (Sprint, Keirin, 500m)
Zach Bell (Points Race, Scratch Race)
Travis Smith (Team Sprint, Keirin)
Stephane Cossette (Sprint Events)
Joseph Veloce (Sprint Events)
Allan Leparskas (Sprint Events)
US National Team:
Cari Higgins (Points Race, Scratch Race, Keirin)
Giddeon Massie (Sprint, Keirin)
Cody O'Reilly (Scratch Race, Madison)
Colby Pearce (Points Race, Madison)
Jimmy Watkins (Sprint, Kilometer)
Jame Carney (Points Race, Scratch Race)