The Games of the XXXII Olympiad get underway a week from today in Tokyo. As they always are, this summer’s Olympic games will be a great opportunity to enjoy favorite sports and experience unfamiliar ones as well. With that in mind, now is the perfect time to get acquainted with the road cyclists who will be representing USA Cycling in Japan.
Road cycling is one of four cycling disciplines that are contested at the Olympics. The road contingent representing the red, white and blue is made up of seven athletes. Among them are two men and five women.
The four road cycling events all take place in the first week of the Tokyo games. The men’s road race takes place on the 24th, while the women’s road race is scheduled for the 25th. The women’s and men’s time trials are both being held on the 28th.
USA Cycling Men’s Athletes
Lawson Craddock – Road Race & Time Trial
Craddock is a 29-year-old Texan who has been riding in the WorldTour for the past eight seasons. The Houston-born athlete is the current National Individual Time Trial Champion of the United States. He won the title for the first time in his career on June 17th in Knoxville.
Craddock’s best season in recent years came in 2019. He capped that season off by finishing sixth in the ITT World Championships, just 13 seconds off the podium.
Brandon McNulty – Road Race & Time Trial
Still only 23, McNulty is the young gun on the men’s side of things for USA Cycling. The Arizonan is currently participating in his first Tour de France. McNulty’s best result of the season is a second place in a WorldTour time trial at the Basque Country.
If McNulty can shake off the Tour de France-induced fatigue, he has shown over the past two seasons that he can be competitive with the best in the time trial.
Best bet for a medal: McNulty in the time trial
USA Cycling Women’s Athletes
Chloé Dygert – Road Race & Time Trial
At just 24 years of age, Dygert has already established herself as the time trialist to beat in the women’s peloton. Dygert dominated the ITT at the 2019 World Championships, winning the gold medal by a margin of 1:32. The native of Indiana was on her way to defending her title in 2020 before a nasty crash took her out of the race. After a lengthy recovery process, Dygert made her return to racing a month ago. In the process, she won her first ITT National title.
Dygert is also a world record holder and an Olympic medalist on the track. She will be participating in the Team Pursuit event during the second week of the Tokyo games.
Amber Neben – Time Trial
At 46 years of age, Amber Neben is the most experienced athlete on this list. Neben is a two time ITT World Champion, winning the title in 2008 and 2016. In her previous Olympic participation, Neben finished seventh in the time trial at London 2012.
The Californian’s standout result on the season is a second place in the recent ITT National Championships.
Coryn Rivera – Road Race
Rivera is another rider making her Olympic debut in Tokyo. The 28-year-old has had a strong season thus far. On her most recent race day, she picked up a stage win at the Giro d’Italia Donne.
The win was the 20th in the road career of Rivera, a collection that includes some of the biggest races in the sport.
Leah Thomas – Road Race
Thomas has been very consistent throughout the 2021 season. The 32-year-old finished fourth at Brabantse Pijl back in April. Since then, she has also finished third at the ITT Nationals and 16th at the Giro Donne as well.
Thomas’ best results have come in the time trial, but she is also a very strong all-arounder who can be deployed in a number of different ways.
Ruth Winder – Road Race
The 28-year-old Winder is a very versatile rider who can sprint and climb well. Winder is one of two riders on this list with previous Olympic experience. She was part of the team pursuit squad for the United States in 2016. Winder enjoyed a spell in the maglia rosa at the Giro Donne earlier this month. She also picked up one of the biggest wins of her career at Brabantse Pijl in April.
Winder is set to retire at the end of the 2021 season.
Best bet for a medal: Dygert in the time trial
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Featured image courtesy of @usacycling.