Corben Sharrah

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U.S. sweeps world titles in BMX

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A pair of Americans, Corben Sharrah and Alise Post, captured gold medals Saturday night at the UCI BMX World Championships, ending a world title drought for both the U.S. men and women.

Sharrah, who entered the day ranked No. 1 in the men’s division, won all of his qualifying motos and all of his elimination heat races en route to the final. The field in the final also included 2016 Olympic champion Connor Fields, but it was France’s Sylvain Andre who ended up giving Sharrah the biggest challenge. Sharrah crossed the line about four-hundredths of a second ahead of Andre to claim his first world title.

Post’s final race was even closer. Like Sharrah, she had won all of her qualifying motos and elimination heats leading up to the final. But in the final, she had to work hard to fend off Australia’s Caroline Buchanan. It was close enough to force a photo finish, with Post officially edging out Buchanan by just eight-thousands of a second. Post has now won four world championship medals, but this was her first gold medal.

Sharrah’s world title is the first for an American man since 2009. Post’s victory ended an even longer drought on the women’s side, one dating back 20 years.

Adding to the moment was the fact that the victories came on home soil for the Americans. This year’s world championships were contested in Rock Hill, South Carolina.

2017 BMX Championships: Men’s Elite
Gold: Corben Sharrah (USA) — 32.913
Silver: Sylvain Andre (FRA) — 32.951
Bronze Joris Daudet (FRA) — 33.891

7. Connor Fields (USA) — 36.528

2017 BMX Championships: Women’s Elite
Gold: Alise Post (USA) — 33.235
Silver: Caroline Buchanan (AUS) — 33.243
Bronze: Mariana Pajon (COL)  — 33.989

 

Kristin Armstrong, Taylor Phinney round out U.S. Olympic cycling team

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USA Cycling filled out its 21-member Olympic team Thursday, and making the cut was two-time Olympic gold medalist Kristin Armstrong. At 42 years old, she will become the oldest U.S. Olympic female cyclist of all time, according to sports-reference.com.

Armstrong was not a lock to make the team despite winning gold in the women’s time trial at the 2008 and 2012 Games. She will turn 43 on Aug. 11, one day after the women’s time trial in Rio. The women’s road race is Aug. 7. Armstrong placed 35th in the road race four years ago, and 25th eight years ago. Her Olympic debut came in the 2004 Athens Games, where she finished eighth in the road race.

“I feel that I’m still podium capable,” Armstrong told Cycling News last month. “I feel I’m still the most consistent time triallist in the U.S.”

Armstrong was a discretionary pick for the women’s road team along with Mara Abbott and Evelyn Stevens (2012 Olympian). Megan Guarnier had already clinched a berth with a bronze medal at the 2015 World Championships.

Highlighting the men’s road team is Taylor Phinney, who’s set to make his third Olympic appearance. It’s a well-deserved berth for the 25-year-old, who endured a long recovery from a severe crash in the 2014 USA Cycling National Road Championship. He suffered a compound fracture of his left tibia and fibula and was out of racing for more than a year. Phinney returned to competition in August 2015, and last month won this third time trial national championship.

Phinney placed fourth in both the time trial and road race at the London Games. He competed on the track in the Beijing Games, finishing seventh in individual pursuit.

In Rio, he’ll be joined on the men’s road team by 32-year-old Brent Bookwalter, who’ll make his Olympic debut. Top American cyclist Tejay van Garderen withdrew from Olympic consideration earlier this month due to Zika virus concerns.

The U.S. BMX team will be led by Nic Long and Alise Post, who both competed in the London Games and previously earned Rio berths with World Championship podium finishes. Corben Sharrah also previously had a spot after winning the U.S. Olympic Team Trials. Brooke Crain and Connor Fields, who will both make their second Olympic appearances, were the discretionary selections announced Thursday.

The U.S. mountain bike team will consist of Lea Davison (2012 Olympian), Howard Grotts and Chloe Woodruff. No U.S. mountain bikers earned automatic selections through previous competitions.

The U.S. track cycling team was announced in March and includes Matt Baranoski, Kelly Catlin, Chloe Dygert, Sarah Hammer (2008 and ’12 Olympian; two silver medals in London), Bobby Lea (2008 and ’12 Olympian), Jennifer Valente and Ruth Winder.

MORE: Nic Long, Alise Post make U.S. Olympic team after BMX Worlds medals