The Road to Worlds: The Orange & Black Prepare to Contest the Rainbow Jersey

Friday, September 19th || Kevin Field Reports On the Final Preparations

“It’s two days before the race and the riders are starting to have the appropriate amount of excitement and nerves. Everyone is feeling good – we completed 3 sessions of motor-pacing with each athlete, which helps create good sensations at high speeds and maintaining a high comfort level while at close proximity with other objects, two of the biggest keys to a successful team time trail. The riders were hitting between 49–53 MPH behind the car.

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There is no more real work to do now – we’ve figured it all out, and we have a plan. We have our credentials now – I think the photo the UCI found of me is from the 1995 Tour of Japan – when I had hair. SRAM sent us a last-minute shipment of race cassettes. We will run 11×23 10 speed rear cassettes with 54×42 rings up front. Team HQ in Minneapolis shipped us a homemade box filled with team logos and orange accent decals to make our team car look a little more pro and we got it all stickered up. Downtown Ponferadda has been slowly transforming since we arrived in preparation for the race, but with the big European teams starting to arrive, it is definitely starting to feel more real.”
– Kevin

Friday, September 19th || Three From Orange & Black Selected for National Road Race Teams

Lauren Hall, Leah Kirchmann, and Ryan Anderson graciously accepted the invitation to fly their county’s colors in the world’s biggest one day race, the UCI Road World Championship. Unlike the team time trial, which is the only event at Worlds that sees athletes competing in their team colors, the road race and time trial events provide a rare opportunity for athlete’s to compete for their respective nations.

Hall will represent Team USA in the women’s road race on September 27th. Winner of one of Europe’s biggest races earlier this year at Gent-Wevelgem in Belgium, she joins an elite six women roster including Mara Abbott, Megan Guarnier, Shelly Olds, Carmen Small, Evelyn Stevens, and Alison Powers. Kirchmann, the first woman in Canadian history to win all three national road titles concurrently, will represent her country in both the individual time trial and road race. Ryan Anderson, winner of the Top Canadian Rider prize at the ’13 and ’14 Tour of Alberta and Quebec’s WorldTour ranked Grand Prix Cycliste this year, will also compete for Team Canada in the elite men’s road race on the closing day of competition.

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Universal Sports airs coverage all week:

– On September 19, watch a behind-the-scenes special on the team with correspondent Steve Porino. 8:00PM ET Broadcast and Online
– On September 21, the Optum p/b KBS women compete in the Team Time Trial. 7:30AM ET Broadcast, 4:00AM ET Online
– On September 23, Kirchmann climbs aboard her time trial bike again for the Women’s Individual Time Trial. 9:00AM ET Broadcast, 8:30AM ET Online
– On September 27, Hall and Kirchmann will play rivals for a day in the Women’s Road Race. 9:30AM ET Broadcast, 8:00AM ET Online
And finally, Canadian Ryan Anderson will compete in the Men’s Road Race on Sept 28. 8:00AM ET Broadcast, 4:00AM ET Online
Wish all of our athletes luck as they compete in one of the world’s most prestigious weeks of racing!

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Thursday, September 18th || The Team Arrives in Ponferrada

The women’s team arrived in Ponferrada, Spain on Monday, September 8th to begin final preparations for the World Championship Team Time Trial. Their time in Ponferrada is the final leg of a month-long stint in Europe that featured the team’s first ever participation in a world cupthe GP of Plouay and Tour de l’Ardèche stage race and plenty of training, resting, and team building in the many forms that can take. Competing at the UCI World Championships is a chance for the team to be seen on one of the biggest stages on the planet. The competition is suitably fierce –  the women finished 8th out of 16 teams at last year’s TTT world championship in Florence, and aims to improve on that result in 2014. “We have made a result at Worlds a major focus of our training in 2014,” said Performance Director Kevin Field, “The team time trial is such a unique discipline – it requires all the competitors to be on the same level both physically and mentally to have any chance at success. We have worked all year on establishing this level, and we are expecting good things.”

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Ponferrada is a city in the Province of León, Castile and León. It sits on the Sil River, surrounded on all sides by lush mountain ranges. It has a population of 69,769. The region has a rich history dating back to pre-Roman times, and it eventually grew into the largest mining center of the expansive Roman Empire. One of the cities most beautiful sights is a Templar Castle dating back to the 12th century. Its rich natural resources have made it a very popular destination in Castile and León for literally thousands of years.

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After three days of rest after the travel into Spain, the team began ramping up its final training phase in the gorgeous Spanish countryside. This began with long motor-pacing sessions. “Motor-pacing helps get speed back in the legs after a heavy race like l’Ardèche, which had over 30,000 feet of climbing” said Field.

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After the motor-pacing, the team began three days of in-depth course recon. Riding key sections at race speed, and working on the ideal rider order and rhythm of rotation for the TTT. Any success will come from the team essentially morphing itself into one entity. A tight formation means huge aerodynamic gains, and developing simple one-word communication cues will help athletes make the split second decisions needed to be successful in such a demanding team event.

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Leah Kirchmann switch kit, from her Canadian time trial national champion colors in both her newly designed Borah Teamwear speed suit and hand-painted Diamondback time trial steed, back to the normal team kit – UCI rules prohibit national champions from wearing their champion kits in the TTT. This year Kirchmann became the first Canadian is history to sweep her nation’s road titles – road race, time trial, and criterium, meaning she will be spending a lot of time in red and white in 2014.

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In the most incongruous moment of the trip (so far), the team celebrated finishing the Tour de l’Ardèche by visiting France’s answer to American Tex-Mex cooking at the Buffalo Grill in Touluose.

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The women enjoyed a police escort for a training ride on Tuesday, September 16th. “The escort definitely starts to make everyone sense the magnitude of the race a bit more,” said Field. “It allows us to race the entire course at full speed, and not worry about any dangerous traffic situations, which are always an issue. We did two laps of the course, and we had the girls feather their speed in certain areas to understand the course a bit better.” The escorted ride will prove to be a crucial bit of training for the main event on Sunday.

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