Twenty-six cyclists will represent the United States at the 2011 Pan American Mountain Bike Championships in Bogota, Colombia on April 1-3. USA Cycling announced the team on Thursday.
"The Continental Championships are a good chance for all of our riders to pick up valuable UCI points," said USA Cycling Mountain Bike and Cyclo-cross Program Director Marc Gullickson. "Especially the elite men's cross country squad, who will use this as an opportunity to boost our nation's ranking as we try to qualify the maximum three riders for the Olympic men's cross country race in London."
Four men earned automatic nomination to the elite men's cross country squad as the top Americans in the UCI's individual standings as of March 1: Todd Wells (Specialized), Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski Subaru-Trek), Sam Schultz (Subaru-Trek), and Adam Craig (Rabobank Giant). Wells is the top-ranked American in 10th while Horgan-Kobelski, Schultz, and Craig are 39th, 42nd, and 68th respectively. Michael Broderick (Kenda-Seven-NoTubes), Jeremiah Bishop (Cannondale Factory Racing), and Troy Wells will also be part of the team as discretionary selections.
After Willow Koerber (Trek World Racing) and Georgia Gould (Luna Pro Team) declined their automatic nominations due to conflicts with team training camps, the elite women's squad for Bogota was whittled down to a strong trio. Two-time Olympian Mary McConneloug (Kenda-Seven-NoTubes), who was an automatic selection as the second American (after Koerber) in the UCI's individual standings, will lead the team. Heather Irmiger (Subaru-Trek), who is ranked 18th by the UCI, and discretionary nominee Katie Compton (Planet Bike-Stevens Bikes), who is ranked 41st by the UCI, will join McConneloug on the women's squad.
"It's unfortunate that Willow and Georgia won't be able to make it, but we'll have strong teams regardless for both the men's and women's events," Gullickson said. "I expect we will challenge for the win in both events."
USA Cycling is also fielding a solid Under 23 squad for the event. Russell Finsterwald (Subaru-Trek) and Stephen Ettinger (BMC MTB Development Team), who grabbed automatic nominations as the top two Under 23 males in the UCI standings, will lead the team. Discretionary picks Jack Hinkens (BMC Mountain Bike Development Team) and Kerry Werner (Lees-McRae/BMC Mountain Bike Development Team) are also on the roster.
As winner of the Division I women's cross country contest at the USA Cycling Collegiate Mountain Bike National Championships last year, Erica Zaveta (BMC Mountain Bike Development Team) will be the lone Under 23 woman to race for the US in Bogota.
Chris Van Dine will lead the American gravity contingent. After finishing sixth in last year's Continental Championship downhill contest, Van Dine will be looking for a podium spot this time around. He'll be joined by Ethan Quehl, Luciano Worl, Michael Buell, Kyle Thomas and Dante Harmony, as well as USA Cycling Professional Mountain Bike gravity Tour standouts Heikki Hall, Mitch Ropelato (SPS North America), and JD Swanguen.
In the elite women's downhill competition, Katie Holden will try to defend her continental title from a year ago. The reigning Pan American champion will be joined by USA Cycling Mountain Bike National Championships silver medalist Jacqueline Harmony.
"I expect our gravity team to be one of, if not the, strongest team at the event," Gullickson said.