by Andy Lee - USA Cycling
(July 6, 2004)--USA Cycling announced today the team that will represent the United States in the discipline of road cycling at this summer's Olympic Games in Athens. After securing the maximum start positions in both men's and women's road cycling, USA Cycling will be sending a mix of accomplished veterans and talented newcomers to Athens.
Five men and three women will contest the road race, while two men and two women will also compete in the time trial.
Leading the men's roster is five-time Tour de France winner and 2000 Olympic Bronze Medalist, Lance Armstrong (Austin, Texas). Armstrong's well-documented career as a cancer survivor and cycling champion includes countless accomplishments and accolades but doesn't include Olympic Gold, a feat he'll try to achieve in his fourth Olympic Games.
Currently, Armstrong is engaged in a quest to become the first-ever six-time winner of the Tour de France, but will soon turn his focus towards Athens.
Joining Armstrong is 2000 Olympian and top European-based pro, Tyler Hamilton (Marblehead, Mass.). A steadily improving rider, Hamilton became a household name after finishing fourth overall in the Tour de France last year despite suffering a broken collarbone in the first stage. A stage win in the 2003 Tour, along with convincing wins in the 2003 Liege-Bastonge-Liege World Cup and back-to-back wins in the Tour de Romandie in 2003 and 2004 signify Hamilton's arrival as an Olympic medal contender.
Currently, Hamilton is considered one of Armstrong's biggest threats to unseat him of his Tour de France glory, but come August the two will form a strong one-two punch as teammates on the U.S. Team.
George Hincapie (Greenville, S.C.), often regarded as the faithful lieutenant of Armstrong on the U.S. Postal Team, returns to represent the U.S. in his fourth Olympic Games. Hincapie's addition to the squad came as a result of a fifth place overall finish at the Paris-Nice stage race earlier this year, a tough multi-day event in France.
Hincapie's presence and talents as a one-day specialist and dependable support rider along with his prowess as a formidable sprinter gives the U.S. team another card to play in a traditionally unpredictable race.
Joining the three Olympic veterans is first-time Olympian, Bobby Julich (Corpus Christi, Texas). Julich rose to stardom in 1998 when he finished third overall in the Tour de France, one year before the rise of Armstrong. After modest results over the next few years, Julich returned to the spotlight in 2004 after making a move to the Danish-based CSC Pro Cycling Team. The move proved ideal for Julich after placing third overall at Paris-Nice securing him a spot on the U.S. Olympic Team, and winning a stage at the Vuelta a Pais Basco, a major international stage race in Spain.
Julich's presence on the Olympic team completes a solid roster of proven pros with serious medal potential in Athens.
Rounding out the men's roster is Jason McCartney (Coralville, Iowa). McCartney burst onto the global scene earlier this season after winning a stage in the Tour de Georgia, an impressive result that came against a strong field of top international competitors.
McCartney's spot on the team came as a result of a win at the pressure-filled Team USA Selection Race last month. A solo breakaway in the race's final 20km sealed the deal for McCartney against a stacked field of the most talented domestic-based professional riders.
The three-woman team that will compete in Athens features all first-time Olympians. Despite her long career as one of the most successful riders in the peloton, Dede Barry (Boulder, Colo.) makes her first Olympic Team as the top-ranked American rider in the international rankings, ranked 15th in the world.
After missing out on the 2000 Olympic Team, Barry retired from professional cycling but later returned to competition with renewed focus towards 2004. Barry's aggressive style and strength as a tenacious all-around rider complements her presence as a tactically savvy and experienced veteran.
Joining Barry is her teammate on the T-Mobile Professional Cycling Team, Kristin Armstrong (Boise, Idaho). Armstrong earned a spot on the team after riding to a win in the USCF Elite National Championships last month. The first-time National Champion has steadily progressed through the ranks of professional cycling by achieving consistent results in some of the world's most prestigious events.
Completing the women's team is USCF Elite National Time Trial Champion, Christine Thorburn (Davenport, Iowa). Thorburn was a surprise victor at last month's nationals to upset a strong field and earn a spot on the Olympic Team. Like Armstrong, Thorburn has experienced steady progression throughout the last year that began with a spot on the U.S. National Team at the 2003 world championships. Since then, she has become a marked rider in the U.S. peloton.
Together, the three riders will combine to form an experienced and eager squad with medal potential. "This is definitely one of the strongest, if not the strongest, Olympic road teams ever assembled by the U.S.," commented USA Cycling CEO Gerard Bisceglia. "Guys like Lance, Tyler, George and Bobby are at the height of their careers and could very well be competing in their last Olympics. Their experience and talent, along with their hunger for Olympic success will hopefully translate into medals.
The women's squad is also on par with the rest of the world in terms of talent and experience. On paper it looks as though we can have a successful Olympics across the board when it comes to the road race and time trials."
From these nominations, two men and two women will also contest the time trial in Athens. The announcement as to which of these riders will compete in the time trial will be made at a later date. With the earlier announcement of the athletes that will represent the United States in Athens on the velodrome in the discipline of track cycling, today's naming of the road squad means that only the three nominations for the mountain bike team remain.
The U.S. will name the three mountain bike athletes (one woman and two men), on July 13 following the UCI Mountain Bike Marathon World Championships this weekend in Bad Goisern, Austria.
2004 U.S. Olympic Team Road Cycling Roster (Men)
Lance Armstrong (Austin, Texas)
Tyler Hamilton (Marblehead, Mass.)
George Hincapie (Greenville, S.C.)
Bobby Julich (Corpus Christi, Texas)
Jason McCartney (Coralville, Iowa)
2004 U.S. Olympic Team Road Cycling Roster (Women)
Kristin Armstrong (Boise, Idaho)
Dede Barry (Boulder, Colo.)
Christine Thorburn (Davenport, Iowa)
About USA Cycling Recognized by the U.S. Olympic Committee and the Union Cycliste Internationale, USA Cycling promotes American cycling through its 45,000 members and 2,000 annual events. USA Cycling associations include the BMX Association (BMX), National Off-Road Bicycle Association (mountain bike), U.S. Cycling Federation (road/track) and the U.S. Professional Racing Organization (professional men's road).