With her win in the Tour of Chongming Island World Cup on Sunday, Shelley Olds became the second American to fulfill the criteria to receive an automatic nomination for the women’s road team at the London Olympics. Olds (AA Drink-Leontien.nl) won a bunch sprint to take round five of the World Cup in China.
“It’s a big result,” said Olds. “I’m not sure if it gets me to the Olympics, but I think a World Cup win was one of the automatic qualifiers. I’m hopeful that I’ll be in London; I find out at the end of May. It’s very, very, good news today, so I’m trying not to get excited (about the Olympics). Today, I’m just happy to feel good again in cycling and share this win with my team, who put this together.”
Olds missed six weeks after breaking her wrist in the second round of the World Cup, at the Trofeo Alfredo Binda, on March 25. She returned to racing late last week in China and said that before the injury, her primary goal for the season had been the Olympics. Olds’ win resuscitated her chances for London.
After her victory, Olds sits fifth in the World Cup standings, with 75 points. American Evelyn Stevens (Specialized-lululemon) won the fourth round at La Flèche Wallonne in April and sits sixth, tied with Olds on points.
Olds and Stevens each meet the fourth criterion to automatically qualify for London based on the USA Cycling Athlete Selection Procedures for the women’s road team. But the federation is only required to nominate one rider named on the long list for London who wins a 2012 World Cup event and is placed in the top 10 of the World Cup standings on May 31. Sunday’s fifth round was the final World Cup race before the end of May.
Because Olds and Stevens are tied on World Cup points, the selection committee must go to a tie-breaker, which is the riders’ rankings in the UCI Women’s Individual World Ranking on May 31.
From the Athlete Selection Procedures:
Any Long Team athlete that wins a 2012 UCI World Cup event provided said athlete is ranked in the top-ten (10) of the UCI Women’s Individual World Cup rankings as of May 31, 2012 may be nominated to the 2012 Women’s Olympic Games team. If more than one (1) athlete meets this criterion, the athlete with the highest UCI Women’s Individual World Cup rankings as of May 31, 2012 may be nominated to the 2012 Women’s Olympic Games team. In the event that more than one (1) athlete meets this criterion, and said athletes are tied with points on the UCI Women’s Individual World Cup rankings as of May 31, 2012, the highest ranked athlete on the UCI Women’s Individual World Rankings list as of May 31, 2012 will earn the nomination.
On Sunday, Stevens sat 17th in the overall rankings, with 272 points. Olds was 115th, with 32 points. Thirteen events remain on the UCI calendar before May 31:
Grand Prix of Maykop (RUS)
Tour of Zhoushan Island I (CHN)
Tour of Adygeya (RUS)
Tour of Zhoushan Island II (CHN)
Chrono Gatineau (CAN)
Copa Fundadeporte (VEN)
Clasico Fundadeporte (VEN)
GP Comune di Cornaredo (ITA)
Grand Prix cycliste de Gatineau (CAN)
Tour de Free State (RSA)
The Exergy Tour (USA)
Parkhotel Valkenburg Hills Classic (NED)
7-Dorpenomloop Aalburg (NED)
Stevens and Olds now essentially find themselves locked in a race for UCI points.
A sprinter who can climb, Olds would be a threat for the win on London’s Box Hill road race circuit, which will likely result in a bunch kick. Stevens is the national time trial champion and could show in the road race with a long-range attack or contend for a TT medal in London.
Regardless of which rider garners the automatic selection, Olds and Stevens are on the inside track for discretionary selection to the London Games. Up to four riders will comprise the final road race squad, with one rider also taking part in the time trial. The USA Cycling selection committee will nominate riders for the places not decided by automatic selection.
Beijing Olympic time trial gold medalist Kristin Armstrong (Exergy Twenty12) finished second in the third round of the World Cup at the Tour of Flanders and is the next American in the World Cup ranking, in 12th. After a string of top-10 results in Europe this spring, Megan Guarnier (Tibco-To the Top) is 30th, and sits 28th in the UCI standings. Amber Neben (Specialized) won two stages at the women’s Tour of El Salvador, as well as the Pan-American time trial championships, and is seventh in the world rankings.
USA Cycling will announce the U.S. women’s road team on June 15. The women’s road race and time trial in London are set for Sunday July 29 and Wednesday August 1, respectively.