Monday, August 10, 2009

United States to be allowed nine riders for Worlds road race

The United States will send the maximum quota of nine riders for next month's World Championship road race after the International Cycling Union (UCI) released its latest World rankings on Monday. The UCI calculated the standings after the Tour of Poland's conclusion on Saturday. The United States dropped one place, but maintained its position as one of the top 10 nations this season.

The bulk of the United States' total of 389 UCI points came from a relatively small selection of riders from two ProTour teams.

Lance Armstrong provided the biggest contribution to the total for the US. The 37-year-old's third place finish at the Tour de France brought his season tally to 150 points. Armstrong's Astana teammate Levi Leipheimer collected 79 points at May's Giro d'Italia.

Garmin-Slipstream's Christian Vande Velde has 78 points and sprinter Tyler Farrar's consistent performances throughout the season netted him 73 points.

Sending the full nine-rider team marks a return to the top for the United States, which qualified in the second tier of nations for last year's championships in Varese, Italy. Steven Cozza (Garmin-Slipstream) was the best placed rider of six riders on the 2008 team. He finished 23rd, 1:40 behind World Champion Alessandro Ballan of Italy.

The increased number of riders will be an advantage for the United States this year on a tough World Championship course in Mendrisio, Switzerland. The men's race will cover 262 kilometres over 19 laps and includes almost 14,000 feet (4,655 meters) of climbing.

Armstrong was the last American to win the World Championships. He won the 1992 race in Oslo, Norway, and joined Greg LeMond as the only other American winner of the elite World Championship road title. LeMond won two titles, one in 1983 and again in 1989.

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