Colorado Springs, Colo. (March 10, 2011) --USA Cycling announced today the 26 athletes that will represent the U.S. at the 2011 Pan American Mountain Bike Championships, April 1-3, in Bogota, Colombia.
“The Continental Championships are a good chance for all of our riders to pick up valuable UCI points,” explained 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 Nations 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 (Durango, Colo.), Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski (Boulder, Colo./Subaru-TREK), Sam Schultz (Missoula, Mont./Subaru-TREK), and Adam Craig (Bend, Ore.). Wells is the top-ranked American in 10th while Horgan-Kobelski, Schultz, and Craig are 39th, 42nd, and 68th. Joining these four as discretionary selections to the team will be Michael Broderick (Chilmark, Mass./Kenda-Seven-NoTubes), Jeremiah Bishop (Harrisonburg, Va./Cannondale Factory Racing), and Troy Wells (Durango, Colo.).
After Willow Koerber (Durango, Colo./Trek World Racing) and Georgia Gould (Fort Collins, Colo./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. Leading the women will be two-time Olympian Mary McConneloug (Chilmark, Mass./Kenda-Seven-NoTubes) who was an automatic selection as the second American (after Koerber) in the UCI’s individual standings, in 6th place. Joining McConneloug will be auto selection Heather Irmiger (Boulder, Colo./Subaru-TREK), who is ranked 18th by the UCI, and discretionary nominee Katie Compton (Colorado Springs, Colo./Planet Bike-Stevens Bikes), who is ranked 41st by the UCI.
“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 went on. “I expect we will challenge for the win in both events.”
USA Cycling is also fielding a solid U23 squad for the event. Leading the U23 men will be Russell Finsterwald (Boulder, Colo./Univ. of Colo./Subaru-TREK) and Stephen Ettinger (Cashmere, wash./BMC MTB Development Team) who grabbed automatic nominations as the top two U23 males in the UCI standings. The pair will be joined on the start line by discretionary picks Jack Hinkens (Eden Prairie, Minn./BMC Mountain Bike Development Team) and Kerry Werner (Banner Elk, NC/Lees-McRae/BMC Mountain Bike Development Team). As winner of the Division I women’s cross country contest at the USA Cycling Collegiate Mountain Bike National Championships last year,Erica Zaveta (Erwinna, Pa./Lees-McRae/BMC Mountain Bike Development Team) will be the lone U23 woman to race for the U.S. in Bogota.
Chris Van Dine(Jim Thorpe, Pa.) will lead the U.S. 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 (Grayson, Ga.), Luciano Worl(Woodinville, Wa.), Michael Buell (Nederland, Colo.), Kyle Thomas (Issaquah, Wash.), and Dante Harmony (Sedona, Ariz.), as well as USA Cycling Professional Mountain Bike gravity Tour standouts Heikki Hall (Durango, Colo.), Mitch Ropelato (Ogden, Utah/SPS North America), and JD Swanguen (San Diego, Calif.).
In the elite women’s downhill competition, Katie Holden (Scotts Valley, Calif.) will look 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 (Sedona, Ariz.).
“I expect our gravity team to be one of, if not the, strongest team at the event,” Gullickson said.
Check back to www.usacycling.org for a report on all the action from Colombia.