Carmen Small (Specialized Lululemon) is looking forward to racing the 2015 UCI Road World Championships on home soil next year when it's held in Richmond, Virginia.
This week, the 34-year-old has been scouting out the time trial and road courses. "It's huge to have the Worlds be in the US," said Small to Cyclingnews. "Having Worlds on your home turf adds to the excitement. I came from volleyball, and it was the same thing. When you played on your home court, you just played better. Yeah, Richmond isn't my hometown, but it's my home country."
Small commented on how much time she spends over in Europe racing, but next September, it's the Europeans who will have to make the trip to the US for Worlds. "I don't think the Europeans know what it means for us to have to do that - they take it for granted because we do it so much. It's hard being over there where people don't speak English. I enjoy Europe and I wouldn't keep going back if I didn't, but I also think it's good the Europeans will have to come over to America."
This week, Small has been attending a camp put on jointly by USA Cycling and the 2015 Richmond Worlds organizers in Virginia. "It's a little different than a regular training camp in the sense that we're not actually training. We have a goal, but it's not until next year. We had a police escort take our entourage around the time trial course one morning. It made us feel really important."
Small, who had to sit out this year's individual time trial Worlds in Spain due to illness just days after winning - with her team - the team time trial, is especially looking forward to the individual time trial at Worlds next year. "It's going to be an interesting course - I'm excited about it," she said.
"Looking at the course on paper, you might think some of it is boring, but there are quite technical turns with ups and downs. This course is like one of the recent power courses, and it's a lot like the one in Spain this year although it's always different. They do a good job of selecting unique Worlds course."
Small noted that the urban course, which will get raced for two laps, will be good for spectators. Parts of the course struck her as noticeably technical and she especially noted a significant uphill 800m before the finish. "It's not just an out and back," she said. "You do go out and back on Monument Avenue, but you also do another part on the other side of the river."
Small's previous best ITT world championship finish was a bronze medal in Florence, Italy last year. She has twice been a member of the gold medal team time trial winning squad. She's optimstic about the Team USA's prospects for success in Richmond.
"I think the chances for the US women to get a medal are very high for 2015. I can't speak for the men - I don't have time to follow the men's racing - I don't pay close enough attention," she said. "But on the women's side, we have a real chance of getting multiple medals in multiple disciplines. Evie [Stephens] and I both medalled in the last two years in the TT.
"Historically, we haven't done that great in the road race, but I would like to see what will happen. It would be great to do well - we have some fast ladies right now. It's a strong US team with a lot of depth. I'd love for us to come out with a win or even just a medal."
Small said she is ok with any role the team would assign her for the road race. "I've always been a worker in the road races because the courses are so climby. I haven't actually raced for myself in the road race. I don't care either way though - I'm happy sprinting for a result or being a worker. Whatever they want me to do, I'll do.
"I'm one of the older athletes and I've got experience, so I can read a race and be a leader on the road. I can do whatever they need me to do."
Small plans to spend some time this winter on the track, including racing some team pursuit events before she decides her road schedule for 2015. She expects to return to Europe for some road racing with the US National Team.