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"We're not the favourites, we're underdogs. We have a young team," Bookwalter said. "I'm excited, this is the first year we've had entirely new generation of riders. It will be good to have this new group."

Photo: Sirotti








25.09.2014 @ 08:22 Posted by Aleksandra Górska

The USA national team will line-up with the youngest squad since many years at the World Championship road race on Sunday which marks an important generational shift in American cycling, but they will approach the event with a role of underdogs due to their relatively small, six-man roster.


Only national champion Eric Marcotte and Brent Bookwalter are in their thirties, while the rest of the squad – Andrew Talansky, Tejay Van Garderen, Alex Howes and Kiel Reijnen all represent a slowly maturing generation of American stage racers.


Having four in-form riders which are theoretically able to excel on the hilly parcours in Ponferrada, Americans are in a good position to race very aggressively on Sunday. Second oldest cyclist in the squad – Brent Bookwalter insists, however, that due to their smaller roster they will enter the event as underdogs, lacking a bit of the manpower to match the strongest units like Belgians, Spaniards or Italians.


"We're not the favourites, we're underdogs. We have a young team," Bookwalter told Cyclingnews. "I'm excited, this is the first year we've had entirely this new generation of riders, we've been racing together a long time. It will be good to have this new group."


"There's certainly plenty of fresh blood on the squad," Reijnen agreed. "It's always hard to pick a well-rounded squad when you only have six slots to fill, but I think the six of us cover a wide range of riding styles. We have plenty of cards to play on Sunday. A one day race is always a bit of a guessing game but I'm confident that we will be able to make an impact no matter how the race turns out."


Even though undeniably talented riders like Talansky, Howes or Van Garderen didn’t have many occasions to prove their strength in long races with routes resembling Ardennes classics, Bookwalter played down suggestions that lack of such experience would be the most important factor.


"There are only a handful of races that are 260km, that have over 4000m of climbing," Bookwalter said. "It's going to be a really strong guy with good form, who has a diverse skill set that wins. It's probably not going to be a Cavendish or a great climber, it's going to be someone who's versatile and is in the form of their life, as is usually the case at Worlds.”


"Howes and Reijnen have a good acceleration for a few minutes deep into the race. They're not proven at 260km, but we'll go in optimistic and we'll get a little extra power from our camaraderie and our experience together."


He insisted, though, that as it usually happens a disposition of the day would be crucial on Sunday and only the strongest and most versatile athletes will have a chance in a battle for the rainbow jersey.


The oldest and least recognized rider of the USA line-up, Eric Marcotte, earned his spot automatically with the national title. Even though he has no experience in racing on European soil and his selection has been reportedly criticized, he is eager to work solidly for his team mates in order to bring them safe and fresh to the grande finale.


"I absolutely never expected to be selected for Worlds. I never even expected to race nationals, let alone win. I'm determined to make the most of it," Marcotte told Cyclingnews. "If there had been a 20km climb on the course, I would have refused my spot, but I feel like I can help."


"People might not know who I am, but I can do the work to take care of my teammates and help them stay fresh for when they need to work," Marcotte said. "It's a big distance, and it's going to test me, but that's good. I want to prove myself."



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