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Cycling: Trial by fire awaits cycling team

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posted on Jun, 22 2004 @ 10:51 AM

REDLANDS, Calif. - Duplicating the setup of the Olympic road courses was easy. Now the trick for USA Cycling is figuring out how an inexperienced roster will handle the burden of performing on sport's elite stage.

The 18-rider U.S. cycling team won't be finalized until July 12, yet it's expected that only five of the riders likely to represent the U.S. in Athens will have any past Olympic experience.

Most of the team will be first-time Olympians like Kristin Armstrong, the Boise cyclist who won a U.S. national championship Saturday and a trip to Athens.

"I don't know what the pressure will be like since it'll be my first one, too," U.S. women's road coach Jim Miller said. "I remember what it was like the first time I went to a world championships, and at the Olympics it'll probably be double. But it's a good team."

All three of the winners at the road trials, which ended Saturday, are not only Olympic-bound for the first time, but each also pulled off fairly surprising victories.

Armstrong and women's time trial winner Christine Thorburn both broke into the elite cycling scene just two years ago. Men's road race winner Jason McCartney once abandoned cycling altogether, saying he was too burned out and beaten down to continue in the sport.



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