In the women's road race in Salzburg, Amber Neben led the U.S. contingent with a 12th-place effort. Neben made the final selection of 15 riders, but was outnumbered by several other nations including the Netherlands, whose Marianne Vos won the 15-rider sprint for the world title.
"You're kind of limited in what you can do because you have to protect yourself and race at the same time," explained Neben, whose result was the best finish for an American woman since Dede Barry placed 11th in 2003. "I just tried to follow the stuff that looked dangerous or had the Germans in it. If you had some team-mates in there, you can take a little bit more of a risk."
"In the finish I was just looking for an opportunity," said Neben of her last-ditch effort. "I saw a chance going over the railroad tracks and had a brief split with the other Dutch girl [Chantal Beltman]. It wasn't going to be. Then I was looking, looking, looking and slid back to look again and all of the sudden there was one kilometre to go and I was too far back."
"It's the closest I've been in a road race at world's," she said. "I had my sights set on the rainbow stripes, but I think if you don't, then why are you even racing? Any time you race the world's and make the selection at the end and you have a chance to win, you can't ask for anything else."
"We started back in 2002 with this group and we've come so far," Neben said of her team-mates. "I'm just really impressed with American cycling. Kristin and Christine winning two medals in the time trial is awesome and now we were just in a position to try and win the road race at world's. The U.S. is in good standing. We'll get there."
In the 110-mile U23 road race, John Devine was the top U.S. finisher in 18th place. Tactically, the U.S. team was at a numerical disadvantage from the beginning with only three riders taking the start. It was the best finish for an American U23 road rider at the world championships since Danny Pate placed 13th in 2001 in Lisbon, Portugal.
"Our goal was a top-25 finish," explained Devine after placing 12th in the field sprint just a handful of seconds back from the winning break of six. "That's basically what our tactics were."
A top-25 finish has assured the U.S. the maximum five starters in 2007. Thomas Peterson finished 41st and Craig Lewis placed 86th for the United States, finishing in the pack with Devine.
"The first lap was hard," described Devine. "I think everybody was pretty nervous about the hills and because of the twisty and technical descent, positioning was everything."
"We really wanted a top-25," repeated Devine. "We wanted five starts for next year. "If we tried to go in any breaks early and often, we easily could have blown ourselves and ended up with nothing."
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