Small’s appeal denied, US squad unchanged for Rio

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USA Cycling today announced that its selections for the women’s individual time trial at the 2016 Olympic Games were upheld by an independent arbitrator, after an appeal by national time trial champion Carmen Small.

The arbitrator concluded that USA Cycling’s Selection Committee followed the selection procedures, fairly applied the criteria and exercised its discretionary expertise appropriately without bias or bad faith, stating:

“Respondent did follow its Selection Procedures and fairly applied the criteria as written to each of the Claimant and Affected Parties, both in determining the four athletes, Kristin Armstrong, Amber Neben, Carmen Small and Evelyn Stevens, were each ‘Medal Capable’ and in ranking them to select the two members of the 2016 Women’s Individual Time Trial Event Olympic team.”

When Small was left off the four-rider roster last month, she was quick to file an appeal.

She had just won her second national time trial championship with a gap of more than a minute over the selected Kristin Armstrong, a two-time defending Olympic gold medalist, and nearly two minutes over Evelyn Stevens, the other rider selected for the individual time trial in Rio.

“This showing of my ability in my mind was not just worthy of my Olympic selection, but also the potential to be a gold medal favorite,” Small told ESPN at the time. “This time around, I feel that I am the best athlete for the selection.”

With the depth of talent among American riders, however, her recent achievements were not enough to earn her a spot for Rio.

“American cycling is fortunate to have a such a wealth of talent in women’s professional cycling that we often have more athletes capable of winning medals than we have positions to fill. Amber and Carmen are immensely gifted athletes, and we regret that we are only allowed two Olympic time trial positions given our deep talent pool,” commented Kevin Loughery on behalf of USA Cycling.

“We are pleased, however, that an independent arbitrator upheld the selections for the women’s Olympic Individual Time Trials made by our Selection Committee. Our Selection Committee chose the athletes based on our previously published selection criteria, and we thank them for taking on the difficult task of making these choices.”

“I feel like I’ve been hit by a truck….I’m calming my mind, body, and soul. I can’t say thank you enough to everyone who has supported me through the past couple of weeks,” Small commented on her Facebook page. “The outreach has been amazing and it does help me keep strong. I might not won the battle but I think our voices have been heard. Life is not fair but it’s how you react to it that makes the difference. Time to reset.”

Women's road race
Megan Guarnier on the road race podium at the 2015 UCI World Championships

The team will be led Megan Guarnier (Boels-Dolmans) who punched her ticket to Rio early by earning a bronze medal in the 2015 UCI World Championship road race.

Joining her on the road team are discretionary selections Armstrong (Twenty16), Mara Abbott (Wiggle-High5) and Evelyn Stevens (Boels-Dolmans). Stevens and Armstrong will also compete in the time trial.

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