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Tayler Wiles 'heart broken' after missing out on Olympic Games selection

SARGENTES DE LA LORA SPAIN MAY 20 Tayler Wiles of United States and Team Trek Segafredo during the 6th Vuelta a Burgos Feminas 2021 Stage 1 a 100km stage from Villadiego to Sargentes de la Lora 1013m VueltaBurgos BurgosFem UCIWWT on May 20 2021 in Sargentes de la Lora Spain Photo by Luc ClaessenGetty Images
Tayler Wiles of Trek-Segafredo (Image credit: Getty Images)

Tayler Wiles has taken to social media to share her deep disappointment at missing out on selection for Team USA in the Tokyo Olympic Games. The Trek-Segafredo rider, who is viewed by many as one of the most respected domestiques in the peloton, also called into question the selection process that was used to determine the four-rider road race team for women.

“I am incredibly heartbroken and disappointed to not be selected for the Olympic team. Realizing that a childhood dream I’ve worked toward for over 10 years will not be coming true is not an easy thing to process. In all honesty, I don’t agree with the decision or the process by which athletes are selected,” Wiles wrote on her Instagram page after the women’s team was announced on Thursday.

The US women’s team were allocated four spots for the Olympic road race in Tokyo with Chloé Dygert, Leah Thomas, Coryn Rivera and US national champion Ruth Winder all getting the nod. Amber Neben will race the individual time trial alongside Dygert, but Wiles was hoping to selected for the women’s road team after a strong and consistent spring campaign. 

“Road cycling is a team sport but unfortunately being a great teammate doesn’t necessarily equate to Olympic selection when the decisions are made not from watching races, but from reading results on paper. When you give everything you have to get your teammate on the top step of the podium, sometimes it's all you can do to turn the pedals over and get to the finish line. On paper that doesn’t shine. I have won races, however, because I race for one of the best women’s teams in the world, personal opportunities are harder to come by. Still, I am just as proud of every win I’ve helped my teammates achieve as I am of my own,” she wrote.

“I strongly believe I would have made our Olympic team better, stronger, more united, & more capable of medaling,” she added.

Wiles took aim at the selection process and those behind the decision not to send her to Tokyo. While Winder has had a standout season with a win in Brabantse Pijl, and several other high placings and impressive performances, it’s fair to say that the rest of the selection was less clear-cut from the outside.

Rivera, although a highly decorated rider with 72 US national titles over multiple disciplines, missed a large portion of the early season due to totally understandable personal reasons, while Dygert, who will race road and track, has not raced competitively on the road since her career-threatening crash in last year’s World Championships' time trial. Thomas had a strong 2020, winning a stage in Setmana Ciclista Valenciana and finishing third in Strade Bianche. She was fourth in Brabantse Pijl earlier this year.

Wiles added that her results spoke of a rider who has sacrificed her own chances for the collective good of her trade team, with Trek-Segafredo having enjoyed a successful first half of the year.

“At the Olympics, cycling is only allocated a maximum of 4 road spots, and teams have to qualify those spots through results. The sad fact is that even if you help to qualify those spots, it does not guarantee your selection. Cycling is one of the only team sports at the Olympics where countries do not get to field a full team. Imagine a soccer team only taking a partial team but having to play the same game. When it came time to field a team for Tokyo, a group of people sat down and decided my fate. They looked at the results and the stats and decided if I had done enough to be chosen. Is it fair? I don't think so. Does it hurt? More than words can say. Will it break me? Hell no.

“Cycling is a beautiful but brutal sport. It's one of the only team sports where the winner is the only person standing on the podium, the only one to receive a medal, and the only one who gets the recognition. You better believe that behind every woman standing on the podium in every race there are 5 other riders who gave their heart and soul to help her get there. 5 other riders who train just as hard & have sacrificed just as much as the person on top.”

The selection process for cycling disciplines begins with the Olympic Long Team, announced in June 2020. From there, the Olympic Selection Criteria for the road roster is reviewed and approved by the USA Cycling Selection Committee, with input from a USOPC Athletes’ Advisory Council Representative. There were 10 women listed on the Olympic Long Team for the US, which included Wiles.

USA Cycling noted on its web site, "Even without a global pandemic, qualifying for an Olympic Team is a tedious process. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, rankings and qualifying opportunities came to a halt worldwide. The selection criteria had to be revised due to the postponement of the Games, then amended again to reflect the ever-changing event schedule and dates. The revisions and schedule changes included extensive communication and further verifications from the UCI, USOPC, and IOC."

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Daniel Benson

 Daniel Benson is the Editor in Chief at both Cyclingnews.com and BikePerfect.com. Based in the UK, he has worked within cycling for almost 15 years, and he joined the Cyclingnews team in 2008 as the site's first UK-based Managing Editor. In that time, he has reported on over a dozen editions of the Tour de France, several World Championships, the Tour Down Under, Spring Classics, and the London 2012 Olympic Games. With the help of the excellent editorial team, he runs the coverage on Cyclingnews and has interviewed leading figures in the sport including UCI Presidents and Tour de France winners.