2012 Olympic Cycling: 4 Names to Know for Team USA
Taylor Phinney headlines a strong U.S. cycling team for the 2012 Olympic Games, but he isn't the only name you need to know heading into the competitions.
The Americans will be missing four of their top male competitors, though, as Levi Leipheimer, George Hincapie, Christian Vande Velde and David Zabriskie all removed their names from consideration, according to the AP.
Here are the top U.S. cycling contenders from various disciplines heading into the 2012 Olympic Games in London this summer.
Sarah Hammer, Indoor
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Sarah Hammer is a former four-time World Track Cycling Champion, specializing in the three-kilometer individual pursuit. Unfortunately for her, that event was cut from the Olympics after the 2008 Summer Games in Beijing.
Hammer quickly shifted gears, as is her wont, and started a new path. She now competes in the omnium, which is a series of six events, according to Cycling Weekly:
* Flying Lap (250-meter time trial)
* Points Race (20km for women)
* Individual Pursuit (3k for women)
* Scratch Race (10k for women)
* Kilometer Time Trial (500 meters for women)
* Elimination Race
It didn't take Hammer long to start dominating this discipline, just like she used to dominate the individual pursuit. She won the gold medal at the World Cup in February—on the same track she'll be competing on this summer in London, according to USACycling.org.
You can follow Hammer on Twitter @SarahHammer.
Connor Fields, BMX
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Connor Fields is a 19-year-old phenom who has won three BMX World Cup races in a row leading up to the 2012 Summer Games in London.
The New York Times has him as their favorite to win the BMX Supercross event. According to their report, Fields battled back from a devastating knee injury two years ago to become the star he is today.
They also documented the fact that Fields says he rides a fine line between cocky and assured, a notion that head coach James Harrera doesn't disagree with, saying his first impression of the youngster was, “A cocky, young punk with skills to match. And he still races that way.”
Let's hope he stays on that razor's edge of a fine line in London and brings home the gold.
You can follow Fields on Twitter @cfields.
Kristin Armstrong, Road
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Kristin Armstrong—no relation to Lance—is one of the best cyclists in the world. She'll be competing in the women's time trials this summer, a 29-Kilometer individual event.
Armstrong won the gold medal in this event in 2008, overcoming arthritis in the process, according to the Los Angeles Times.
She then decided to take some time out from the sport she loves and had a baby, Lucas. That didn't last long, though, and one month after Lucas was born, Armstrong un-retired, according to ATwistedSpoke.com.
SI.com's Austin Murphy reports that Armstrong has won eight of the last eight events she's entered leading up to the 2012 Summer Games, and he calls her the favorite to win the gold again this year.
You can follow Armstrong on Twitter @k_armstrong.
Taylor Phinney, Road
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Taylor Phinney is one of America's brightest young cycling stars. He's also the son of Olympic medalists Davis Phinney and Connie Carpenter-Phinney.
According to an SI.com report, it's only been recently that Phinney has stepped out from under his parents' shadow. But that he has done, with a recent win at this year's Giro d'Italia time trial.
Phinney just turned 22, but this isn't his first time on the world's biggest stage. He finished in seventh place in the 2008 Summer Games in Beijing in the individual pursuit, and he'll look to improve upon that result this year in London.
According to a USA Today report, Phinney's chances might be better due to the simple fact that Shawn Johnson won't be competing on the women's gymnastics team. Apparently, Phinney and Johnson engaged in a, "small budding romance" that was, "like summer camp, like boarding school with all these cute girls, except this was the Olympics."
Phinney will be competing in both the time trial and in the road race, and his thoughts are on only one thing, according to the SI.com report: to stand on the podium when it's all said and done.
You can follow Phinney on Twitter @taylorphinney.