Derek Bouchard-Hall Blog

The Olympics are here!
Post: Oct 12, 2016 by Kevin Loughery under category "default"
The Olympics are here!
 
The Olympic Games have a very special place in my heart.  I competed in the 2000 Olympics in Sydney Australia and it was one of the highlights of my sporting career.  I also admire what the Olympics stand for – global unity, love of sport, and human achievement. There really isn’t anything else quite like the Olympics.
 
I can still remember that feeling of arriving at the Olympic Village in Sydney.  While so much of my racing life up until that point was conducted in relative anonymity, the Olympics was an incredible show that felt like the whole world was watching.  Every town I ever lived in wanted to interview me as the hometown hero.  Walking around the village felt like being at a circus of extreme physiology – skinny bike racers next to 300 lb. weightlifters and 7 foot basketball players next to 4 foot gymnasts.  You can typically guess the sport someone competes in by their body type.  I also recall the honor and stress of representing your country – it feels like you carry the hopes and dreams of millions.  Energizing and intimidating!
 
As for the current crop of American cyclists representing the United States, I think we have one of the strongest overall teams we’ve had in decades.
 
On the road, Megan Guarnier has had a dream season with wins at the Volkswagen Pro Road National Championships, the AMGEN Tour of California, the Philadelphia Cycling Classic and the Giro Rosa. She’s the No. 1-ranked women’s rider in the world, and is joined by Hour Record holder Evelyn Stevens, Olympic legend Kristin Armstrong and one of the world’s best climbers, Mara Abbott, in the road race. Additionally, Armstrong will try for her third-straight Olympic time trial gold medal, while Stevens will also challenge the event.
 
Taylor Phinney’s comeback from a terrible leg injury in 2014 to earn his third consecutive Olympic Team selection (he first raced track in 2008) is a remarkable story and an inspiring achievement in and of itself.  But with his talent and ability to peak when it matters most I wouldn’t rule him out for a medal.  Like Phinney, BMC teammate Brent Bookwalter will also race the road race and time trial in his first Olympic appearance.
 
Road competes Aug. 6-10.
 
Our World Champion women’s pursuit team of Kelly Catlin, Chloe Dygert, Sarah Hammer, Jennifer Valente and Ruth Winder made a major statement in London at Worlds, and they look to put the finishing touches on a historic year as they go for the first-ever women’s track gold medal at an Olympics. Three-time Olympian Sarah Hammer anchors that team and also will go for gold in the women’s omnium.
 
On the men’s side, Matt Baranoski has a shot at the medal stand in the keirin after taking bronze twice in the event during this year’s World Cup series. Bobby Lea also returns to the Olympics with his sights set on the men’s omnium.
 
Track competition runs from Aug. 11-16.
 
In 2008, the U.S. claimed three out of a possible six medals in Beijing—the first year of Olympic BMX competition. Four of the five 2016 BnMX Olympians—Brooke Crain, Connor Fields, Nic Long and Alise Post—have Olympic experience, and all four, along with 2016 U.S. Olympic Team Trials Champion Corben Sharrah, are capable bringing medals home for the United States.
 
BMX will be Aug. 17-19.
 
2012 Olympian Lea Davison is fresh off of her World Championship silver medal and is primed to earn the third American women’s mountain bike medal since the sport joined the Olympic lineup in 1996. Combining for five national titles since last year, up-and-coming talents Howard Grotts and Chloe Woodruff will make their first Olympic appearances.
 
Mountain bike closes out Olympic cycling competition Aug. 20-21.
 
We have 21 exceptional athletes and people in Rio de Janeiro to compete for 13 days. I could not be more proud of the team we have going, and I know that each one of them will represent our country with distinction.
 
Join me in supporting our team by watching on channels of the NBC Sports Group and www.nbcolympics.com, following us on Instagram and Twitter at @usacycling and keeping up with our news, and events at www.usacycling.org/olympics.
 
Enjoy the Games and ride often!
 
Derek