Three women added to U.S. cycling team

Amber Neben who tested positive for drugs at the 2004 Athens Games and missed them; she was then diagnosed with skin cancer nine months ago. Fortunately for her the cancer was caught early and didn’t spread. She is now on the Olympic cycling team with Christine Thorburn in the road team and Mary McConneloug in the mountain bike.

“These three riders have consistently illustrated an ability to contend for medals or otherwise raise the level of our team’s performance in major international races,” said Pat McDonough, USA Cycling’s team leader for the Beijing Games. “Their addition to the Olympic team makes the 2008 squad one of the strongest in recent memory.”

The United States has a strong cycling team especially with the addition of BMX which has some medal favorites:

Taylor Phinney (men’s track), Sarah Hammer and Jennie Reed (women’s track), Levi Leipheimer and George Hincapie (men’s road), and Mike Day, Kyle Bennett, Donny Robinson and Jill Kintner all competing in the BMX.

Read more: Neben among three women added to U.S. Olympic cycling team

Neben and Christine Thorburn were added to the road team; Mary McConneloug was picked as the second selection to the mountain bike roster. Thorburn and McConneloug were Olympians in 2004, when Neben was trying to erase the sting of a six-month suspension that stemmed from her use of a tainted supplement.

But Thursday, after losing a stage of the Giro D’Italia by one second, Neben got the ultimate pick-me-up — her Olympic call.

“I am so excited,” Neben told The Associated Press by phone from Italy. “I really am so excited. It’s been really difficult waiting. In my heart and in my head, I just thought there was no way they couldn’t take me. But at the same time, until you actually know, you can’t really believe it. I have my faith and I trusted the Lord and it happened.”

Thursday’s moves complete USA Cycling’s 24-rider roster for the Beijing Games. Neben and Thorburn join Kristin Armstrong on the women’s road team, while McConneloug will ride alongside Georgia Gould in the women’s mountain bike race.

Thorburn was fourth in the time trial at the Athens Games, missing a bronze medal by a mere 20 seconds.

“Getting fourth in Athens has been a major motivator for me over the last four years,” Thorburn said Thursday after racing in Bend, Ore.

McConneloug was ninth in the mountain bike race four years ago.

“These three riders have consistently illustrated an ability to contend for medals or otherwise raise the level of our team’s performance in major international races,” said Pat McDonough, USA Cycling’s team leader for the Beijing Games. “Their addition to the Olympic team makes the 2008 squad one of the strongest in recent memory.”

Neben, Thorburn and Armstrong are all thought of as American medal contenders in Beijing, joining the likes of Taylor Phinney (men’s track), Sarah Hammer and Jennie Reed (women’s track), Levi Leipheimer and George Hincapie (men’s road), and BMXers Mike Day, Kyle Bennett, Donny Robinson and Jill Kintner.

None of them have a story quite like Neben’s, though.

She served a six-month suspension before the Athens Games and nearly made the team anyway. And when her 2007 season ended, she went to have what she thought was a harmless spot on her back checked by a doctor, only to learn that it was melanoma.

Fortunately, the cancer hadn’t spread, was caught very early and really didn’t disrupt her training for 2008.

“I’m an Olympian. I mean, wow, I’m an Olympian,” Neben said. “How many people can say they’re an Olympian? How many people dream of being in this position? I’m going to the Olympics. And it has been a long road, about perseverance and persistence and prayers and everything. It hasn’t been an easy road, but I’m at that point now, and it feels fantastic.”

Posted by Mike 10 years ago

filed under: Cycling, Mountain Bike, Women's Individual

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Comments

Hugh Browne - July 16, 2008 @ 9:55 pm

Wonderful, a bunch of us are going to Beijing, we can’t wait!
Join our group and share the Dream.

http://www.olympiconenessdream.com

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