Team USA has not won an elite men's world road race championship since Lance Armstrong in 1993, and is looking to turn things around in Florence, Italy on Sunday. Team manager Mike Sayers, formerly a directeur for BMC and now with USA Cycling, has named Tejay van Garderen and Chris Horner as co-leaders for the race.
While van Garderen has been in Italy since coming back to Europe after winning the USA Pro Challenge in Colorado, Horner only arrived in Florence on Friday with a lengthy flight from Oregon and nine hours of jetlag in his legs, but Sayers says he respected Horner's decision to take his post-Vuelta weeks at home.
"It's hard to say how it will affect him, but Chris has a lot of experience and knows himself well," Sayers told Cyclingnews. "I don't second guess him. People have second-guessed his decisions [to fly back and forth from Europe] for years, but he always comes through in the clutch. He's never let me down yet.
"He decided to take those two weeks at home, and we were supportive of that decision."
Horner will have plenty of time to shake the jetlag out of his legs: the race heads off from Lucca at 10:10am (1:10am Oregon time), but there is 106.6km before the peloton enters the critical finishing circuit, which they tackle ten times.
Sayers, who also directs Team USA's U23 squad, said he was the only pro team director who was in the caravan for the U23 race, and that there were some things he noticed that could help his riders - but he wasn't giving anything away. With Spain as the team with the most strength and depth, the Italians as the most motivated, and Switzerland as the squad most united behind Fabian Cancellara, it won't be up to the USA to make the race.
"We only have seven guys, and that makes it more difficult. The race will be plenty hard, especially if it rains as they are predicting. The team will have to work to keep the leaders safe and in position on the circuit."
After a few years in the past decade of world championship courses that were not as selective as what has been designed in Florence, Sayers likes the level of difficulty.
"It is a beautiful race. Rain or shine, it will be beautiful. The rider who wins will be a deserving champion - just as we saw last year with Philippe Gilbert, we will see the same this year."
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