Colorado Springs, Colo. (February 20, 2008)—The 2007 road season was a remarkable one for American women.
From breakthrough performances to World Championship medals, they demonstrated not only their current strength in the international peloton, but also the promise of strength for years to come.
The 2008 women’s road season gets underway this week in Australia. And of the 11 Americans set to toe the line Down Under, several are contenders for an Olympic medal this summer while others will likely grow into contenders for the 2012 Games in London and beyond.
Cycling’s top ladies will kick off the Olympic year with the Geelong Tour, Feb. 21-22 and remain in Geelong to open the UCI Women’s Road World Cup on the 24th before contesting the Ladies Tour of New Zealand Feb. 27-Mar. 2.
Several Americans will be among the strongest women in the 100+ rider fields – like 2006 World Time Trial Champion Kristin Armstrong (Boise, Idaho), who debuts for her new Cervelo-Lifeforce Pro Cycling Team, and 2006 World Championship bronze medalist Christine Thorburn (Sunnyvale, Calif.). After sprinting to a win in stage four of last year’s Geelong Tour, reigning Pan American Champion Tina Mayolo-Pic (Buford, Ga.) is also likely to play an important role Down Under.
The seasoned American women will be joined by the future of women’s cycling in the U.S. – the current Women’s National Team. Although the up-and-coming riders on the National Team may not be household names, past members like Armstrong, Thorburn and Pic are proof that the National Team program is effective in producing world-class cyclists, world championship medalists and Olympic hopefuls.
The Women’s National Team will field five riders in Australia: Lauren Franges (Asheville, N.C.), Alison Powers (Boulder, Colo.), Carmen McNellis (Durango, Colo.), Katharine Carroll (Sausalito, Calif.) and Christina Ruiter (Bend, Ore.). The quintet will later be joined by recent Tour of California winner Brooke Miller (Los Altos, Calif.).
The squad is coming off a highly-successful 2007 campaign that saw several podium appearances and breakthrough performances, like Miller’s successful European debut that included a 14th-place World Cup effort, or Powers’ third-place finish in the Memorial Davide Fardelli Time Trial and seventh-place finish in Le Grand Tour du Montreal, or Carroll’s 70-kilometer solo breakaway that gave her a win at the Tour Cycliste Feminin International Ardeche just a month after being added to the team’s roster.
During their two weeks in Australia and New Zealand, the ladies will have more opportunities to bolster their race résumés. They’ll gain valuable experience racing against world-class riders like 2004 World Champion Judith Arndt (GER), two-time Giro d’Italia champion Edita Pucinskaite (LTU) and 2007 Tour de l’Aude winner Susanne Ljungskog (SWE) to name a few.
After contesting a time trial and two circuit races during the Geelong Tour, they’ll face the same talented field in round one of the UCI Women’s Road World Cup series. The World Cups play a key role in Olympic selection this year. Any rider who wins a World Cup and places in the top five in another automatically qualifies to represent the U.S. in Beijing this August.
The team will then conclude its first trip abroad for 2008 with 470 kilometers of racing over five days in the Ladies Tour of New Zealand.
Following the first two weeks of the international season, the Women’s National Team will take advantage of its second season in USA Cycling’s new European Residence Center. From the team’s headquarters, which opened in Lucca, Italy last year, USA Cycling hopes to continue fostering the success of American women by offering them consistent world-class racing opportunities in a comfortable European setting – elements needed to grow into Olympic and World Champions.
About USA Cycling
Recognized by the U.S. Olympic Committee and the Union Cycliste Internationale, USA Cycling promotes American cycling through its 60,000 members and 2,500 annual events. USA Cycling associations include the BMX Association (BMX), National Off-Road Bicycle Association (mountain bike), U.S. Cycling Federation (road/track), the National Collegiate Cycling Association and the U.S. Professional Racing Organization (professional men’s road). For more information, visit www.usacycling.org or contact USA Cycling Director of Communications, Andy Lee at 719-866-4867.