What To Watch At The UCI Cycling World Championships
by Paul D. Bowker
The 2023 UCI Cycling World Championships will not only play a big role in determining selections for the Olympic and Paralympic Games Paris 2024, but the event also introduces a unique format that features riders in all cycling disciplines competing at the same place at the same time.
The championships, set for Aug. 3-13 in Glasgow, Scotland, feature competition in road racing, track racing, BMX racing and freestyle, mountain bike racing, and Para road and track racing.
“It’s just going to be a pretty historic event,” said U.S. cyclist Joe Christiansen, a former national team member as a sprinter who’ll compete as a pilot in the Para track tandem competition with Michael Stephens. “Every discipline. … It’s kind of cool for me. It’s like a collision of all these different walks of my life.”
“It’s going to be a really exciting world championship for the U.S.,” added mountain biker Savilia Blunk, who can secure a spot for the Olympic Games with a top-three finish in the elite women’s cross country race Aug. 12.
Top-three finishes in the mountain bike cross country races and road time trials carry automatic entries into the Olympic Games. Most other competitions carry weighted results that will play deep into the Olympic qualification process for Paris 2024.
More than 140 U.S. cyclists will compete in the world championships, some of them in two disciplines.
Here’s a look at the schedule breakdown:
- Para Track: Aug. 2-8
- Track: Aug. 3-9
- Mountain Bike Downhill: Aug. 3-5
- BMX Freestyle: Aug. 5-10
- Road: Aug. 5-13
- Mountain Bike Marathon: Aug. 6
- BMX Racing: Aug. 6-13
- Mountain Bike Cross Country: Aug. 8-12
- Trials: Aug. 9-12
- Para Road: Aug. 9-13
A detailed schedule and other event details can be found here
With the action about to start in Glasgow, here are some key Team USA storylines to follow:
Chloe Dygert, a two-time Olympic medalist and 10-time world champion, is certainly back on the fast track. She won national titles this year in both the road race and time trial. And she’ll compete in Glasgow in both the road and track disciplines. She is a two-time Olympian who won a bronze medal in women’s team pursuit in Tokyo and a silver in the team pursuit in Rio. At the track world championships in 2020, she set a world record in the individual pursuit and also won a gold medal in the team pursuit. She’ll be busy in Glasgow. Her competition begins Aug. 3 with the individual pursuit qualifying and final rounds on the track, followed by two days of the elite women’s team pursuit. Road competition is set for Aug. 10 and 13.
Paris 2024 is the big reward for a top-three finish in the mountain biking elite cross-country competition. A strong U.S. women’s team includes 2020 Olympian Kate Courtney, Savilia Blunk and Gwendalyn Gibson. Christopher Blevins, a 2020 Olympian, is in the men’s race. If the American women actually swept the podium, then only the top two would secure Olympic spots because nations are being limited to two entries per gender in cross-country racing for the Olympic Games Paris 2024. Another contender for the U.S. women, Haley Batten, withdrew due to her recovery from a concussion injury in June, and Kelsey Urban withdrew as well.
Jennifer Valente, a three-time Olympic medalist and five-time world champion, has ruled the world in the women’s omnium and team pursuit on the track. She has won four world championships in team pursuit and won her first Olympic gold medal in the omnium two years ago in Tokyo. She followed that up by winning the omnium at the 2022 world championships in October. As the only American woman set to race in the omnium in Glasgow, Valente will compete in the Madison, scratch race, elimination race and points race. She’ll also join Chloe Dygert, Olivia Cummins, Colleen Gulick, Shayna Powless and Lily Williams in the team pursuit.
Even after Corben Sharrah withdrew due to injury, the U.S. BMX racing team is still loaded with world champions. One of them, 2020 Olympian Felicia Stancil, won last year’s women’s world title. Alise Willoughby, a three-time Olympian, is seeking her third world championship. Sharrah, a two-time Olympian, won a men’s world title in 2017 and was initially named to the team but then withdrew. Eight U.S. riders will take part in the elite competition that will be held Aug. 12 and 13. Joining Stancil and Willoughby in the elite women’s races are 2020 Olympian Payton Ridenour, Daleny Vaughn and Lexis Colby. Kamren Larsen, Jeremy Smith and Joey Leto make up the men’s team.
Hannah Roberts won a silver medal when BMX freestyle made its Olympic debut two years ago in Tokyo. The four-time world champion leads a charge of three U.S. Olympians and 10 elite freestylers in Glasgow. Roberts is the top woman in the UCI rankings. Justin Dowell, a 2020 Olympian, is looking for his second world title after winning it in 2018 and placing second last year. Nick Bruce returned to action in May after injuring his shoulder in the Olympic Games. Joining Roberts in the women’s competition are Angie Marino, Chelsea Wolfe and Bethany Hedrick. Brian Fox, Daniel Sandoval, Jacob Thiem and Bryce Tryon will also compete in the men’s class.
American cyclists Matteo Jorgenson, Neilson Powless and Lawson Craddock will compete in the men’s road race following racing in this summer’s Tour de France. Powless had a sixth-place finish in Stage 9. Craddock, a two-time national champion who placed sixth in the time trial at the 2019 world championships, had a fourth-place finish in Stage 15. Jorgenson pulled out of the Tour in one of the late stages due to a hamstring injury. The trio will join Sean Quinn, Magnus Sheffield and Quinn Simmons in the men’s road race. Brandon McNulty and Sheffield will race in the time trial.
Paralympians Samantha Bosco, Oksana Masters and Clara Brown are all back to defend their world championships in the road events in Glasgow. Bosco, a 2016 Paralympian, has been unbeatable on the road in the last year at world cups and in the world championships in both the road race and time trial WC4. Masters, a 17-time Paralympic medalist in multiple sports, also won double gold medals in WH5 last year at the world championships in Canada. Brown, a 2020 Paralympian, is the defending champion in the time trial WC3. Joining them on the women’s team are Paralympic medalists Alicia Dana, Allison Jones, Shawn Morelli and Jamie Whitmore, along with Jenna Rollman and Elizabeth Mis. Eight handcyclists are on the men’s team: Paralympic medalists Freddie De Los Santos, Travis Gaertner and Ryan Pinney, along with Brandon Lyons, Cody Wills, Owen Daniels, Barry Wilcox and Zachary Stinson. Also on the team is tricyclist Dennis Connors and four bicyclists: 10-time world medalist Aaron Keith, John Terrell, C.J. Howard and Noah Middlestaedt.
Lauren Stephens, a 2020 Olympian, is among seven U.S. women expected to compete in the road race. Joining her will be Chloe Dygert, Heidi Franz, Megan Jastrab, Coryn Labecki, Skylar Schneider and possibly Veronica Ewers. Ewers was injured in a crash July 28 in the Tour de France Femmes. Dygert, Kristen Faulkner and Amber Neben will race in the time trial.
Mandy Marquardt leads a strong U.S. team in women’s team sprint on the track. She’ll join Pan American bronze medalists Keely Ainslie, Kayla Hankins and McKenna McKee for the team sprint competition Aug. 3. Marquardt, a national record-holder in multiple events and who was diagnosed with diabetes 16 years ago, will also race in the individual sprint and Keirin.
Three-time Paralympic champion Shawn Morelli, two-time Paralympic medalist Samantha Bosco, 10-time world medalist Aaron Keith and 2022 world medalist John Terrell all qualified to compete in both Para track and road at the world championships. They were among 12 named to the U.S. track world team. Two-time Paralympian Chris Murphy enters his final world championships as an eighth-time world titlist. Also bringing plenty of Paralympic experience to Glasgow is four-time Paralympic medalist Joe Berenyi, a nine-time world champion who is competing on the world stage for the first time since the Paralympic Games in Tokyo. Also on the team are Bryan Larsen, Katie Walker, and tandem teams Michael Stephens and Joe Christiansen, and Hannah Chadwick and Skyler Samuelson.
Gavin Hoover, a 2020 Olympian, will take on the omnium on the men’s side. He finished seventh in the event at the 2020 world championships. All five U.S. riders are listed for the men’s team pursuit: Hoover, Grant Koontz, Colby Lange, Anders Johnson and David Domonoske. Johnson and Domonoske will also race in the individual pursuit, Koontz is in the scratch race and Lange will compete in the Madison and points race.
Luca Shaw and Dakotah Norton are ranked 14th and 15th, respectively, in the UCI men’s downhill mountain bike rankings entering the downhill competition in Glasgow. They are among a U.S. downhill team of nine, with the men having seven starters. Joining Shaw and Norton are Austin Dooley, Christopher Grice, Dylan Maples, Neko Mulally and Dante Silva. Abby Hogie and Anna Newkirk are in the elite women’s downhill.