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Athletics Update - 2020 Foundation Review

By: USA Cycling Foundation  November 04, 2020

It’s easy to forget about the great 2020 National Team results with everything that has happened in our world since February, so here is a quick reminder:

Connor Fields and Alise Willoughby led the BMX way in February with UCI World Cup wins in Shepparton, Australia. Felecia Stancil was second to Alise in the main event for a Silver medal, and our riders continue to dominate in Supercross events. Our BMX race and freestyle athletes have continued to train and prepare for Tokyo21 in the Chula Vista throughout the pandemic. Based on reports from the coaches and the on-going progress these athletes are making in their development, strength and conditioning and other specific markers, we believe we continue to have medal hopefuls in both the men and women, in both disciplines. Watch the World Cup Fields Video here.

The USA Cycling Women’s Endurance Track Team followed the BMX wins with yet another UCI World Championship in the team pursuit in Berlin, Germany, and Chloe Dygert won the Individual Pursuit Championship. This brings the Gold medal count for the pursuit team to four in the last five years, along with the Silver Medal won at the 2016 Rio Olympics. Dygert’s teammates have also had great success over the last Olympic quadrennial. Jennifer Valente continues to develop into an Olympic medal capable Omnium rider, winning 11 Gold medals over the last 4 years at UCI World Cups, Pan American Championships and UCI World Championships. These athletes are currently preparing for a limited UCI Track World Cup season which begins in March of 2021. The World’s Gallery can be found here.

The Elite Men and Women road competitors have had a great showing on the limited European schedule, and USA Cycling fielded teams for the UCI World Championship Road Race and Individual Time Trial. There were 2 top-10 finishes in the Women’s Time Trial in Amber Neben and Lauren Stephens, and Sepp Kuss was the highest placing rider in the Men’s Road Race at 53rd. Kuss has had 5 weeks of grand tour racing between the Tour de France and the Vuelta, (currently underway with only a few days to go), and it is apparent that a new General Classification rider is in the making. He appears to be currently one of the 5 best climbers in the world based on what we are seeing in these events. We continue to have emerging junior and U23 riders who are being hired by World Tour Teams, with 15 men who have/are participating in grand tours or other major one-day events this year, and the rising star in Kuss, who participated in our USA Cycling Mountain Bike athlete development program when he was attending CU Boulder. Will Barta’s amazing time trial performance in Stage 13 of the Vuelta is yet another example of how deep our talent runs in the men’s road cycling. Our women continue to be strong contenders for podium and race wins in any event they enter, and the final team selection for Tokyo21 will be interesting. Two of those long-team members have recently signed professional contracts for 2021: Megan Jastrab with Team Sunweb and Leah Thomas with Movistar.

On the Mountain Bike we are relatively strong on all fronts, with competitive elite women, several emerging elite men, and developing riders in both men and women at the U23 and Junior levels. USA Cycling fielded a small team of riders to UCI World Cups and the UCI World Championships in Austria during October. Chris Blevins won a Silver medal in the U23 World Championship cross-country event, there were 2 fourth-place finishes in Junior Men and U23 Women, and several other top-20 placements. Keegan Swenson had a 29th place result in what was his best result yet in the Elite Men since he graduated from U23. Olympic medal hopeful Kate Courtney crashed off the course and out of an abundance of caution, pulled out to ensure her health and safety. The course was one of the hardest, muddiest and most technical that anyone had likely ever raced in a World Cup or World Championship on the mountain bike. Maddi Munroe, who placed 8th in the Junior Women’s event in Austria, will race for the Trek Professional Cyclocross team moving forward, and remains a medal hopeful for the Fayetteville, Arkansas 2021 UCI CX World Championship in the U23 category. Read More on Chris Blevins Silver medal at Worlds here.