Analyzing the US women’s team for the road world championships

The USA will have a full team of seven for the road worlds, including Veronica Ewers, Kristen Faulkner, and Coryn Rivera.

Photo: Kristof Ramon - Pool/Getty Images

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The Team USA women have not won an elite road race title in over 40 years and have taken just one medal in the last 26.

A team of seven women will try to change that in Australia this September: Veronica Ewers, Kristen Faulkner, Coryn Labecki, Krista Doebel-Hickok, Emma Langley, Leah Thomas, and Skylar Schneider.

With multiple options and some big engines in the group, it is a strong group that should have riders for almost every eventuality. It is one of only five teams with the maximum of seven riders, alongside the likes of cycling powerhouses the Netherlands and Italy.

Also read: Powless, Faulkner, McNulty, Ewers headline strong USA squad at road worlds

Can the USA break onto the podium again? VeloNews analyses the U.S. team for the road world championships in Wollongong.

Veronica Ewers (EF Education-TIBCO-SVB)

Veronica Ewers chasing to ninth overall at the Tour de France Femmes
Veronica Ewers chasing to ninth overall at the Tour de France Femmes (Photo: Dario Belingheri/Getty Images)

Potential role: Co-leader
Age: 27
Worlds pedigree: None

Ewers has seen a swift rise through the ranks after riding her first professional race last fall. She claimed her first pro win in May at the Festival Elsy Jacobs and has continued that upward trajectory going into the heart of the season. Last month, Ewers battled with the best to finish ninth overall at the Tour de France Femmes.

Wollongong will be Ewers’ first appearance at a world championships and her first time in the stars and stripes. She would probably prefer a slightly harder route, but the undulating course will still suit her characteristics. Ewers has shown time and again this season that she’s not afraid to animate races and the Wollongong route provides plenty of opportunities to hit out and try to drop the peloton.

Kristen Faulkner (BikeExchange-Jayco)

Potential role: Co-leader
Age: 29
Worlds pedigree: Raced in 2021

Like Ewers, Faulkner is relatively new to the sport but she has shown over the last two seasons that she can compete with the best in the bunch. She has enjoyed a strong season with third at Itzulia Women in May and second at the Tour de Suisse in June, along with a stage victory. Two more stage wins came at the Giro d’Italia Donne, where she finished 11th overall.

Her season was derailed somewhat when she caught COVID-19 after the Giro, leaving her out of form for the Tour de France Femmes. She will begin her build towards the worlds in Plouay this weekend. If she can get into top shape, Faulkner can be a serious threat for a podium placing. If she can break clear on one of the ascents of Mount Ousley or Mount Pleasant then her time trialing skills could pay dividends when it comes to trying to hold a chase off.

Faulkner is one of two members of the road race team that will be doing the individual time trial. Given her performances this season, she will be among the favorites for a medal.

Coryn Labecki (Jumbo-Visma)

Coryn Labecki readying herself for the Tour of Flanders
Coryn Labecki readying herself for the Tour of Flanders (Photo: Bas Czerwinski/Getty Images)

Potential role: Co-leader
Age: 29
Worlds pedigree: 16th in 2016, 10th in 2019, 10th in 2021

Labecki is by far the most experienced rider on the Team USA worlds roster with seven appearances in the elite road race since making her debut in 2015. She’s had an up and down season so far with a bout of COVID-19 and a stomach bug disrupting her spring. She was supposed to ride the Tour de France Femmes, but Jumbo-Visma opted not to race her in the end to give her more recovery time.

It means that she hasn’t raced since June and will only return to racing this weekend at the one-day Classic Lorient Agglomération in Plouay. The long summer lay-off could pay off for Labecki as she’ll be fresher than most who had a busy racing schedule. Labecki can climb well and should be able to deal with the climbs on the Wollongong course better than many sprinters. She’s also an option for a breakaway ride, but it may be better for the USA to save her for a potential small bunch finish as the long run to the line will make it hard, though not impossible, for a breakaway to stay away.

Krista Doebel-Hickok (EF Education-TIBCO-SVB)

Potential role: Super-domestique
Age: 33
Worlds pedigree: 29th in 2020

Doebel-Hickok has been a stalwart of the women’s peloton since turning pro back in 2013. For most of her career, she has split her time between racing in the U.S. and Europe but her step up to the WorldTour this season with EF Education-TIBCO-SVB has allowed her to race a far bigger program than she has in the past. She’s flourished at this level, riding to fourth overall at the Vuelta a Burgos in May and 15th at the Giro d’Italia Donne.

The 33-year-old dominated the Tour Féminin Pyrénées at the start of August, winning the opening team time trial and two more stages on the way to taking the overall title. Doebel-Hickok could be an option to go in an early break, but with so many strong riders in the USA team, she’s likely to play a support role. With almost a decade of racing behind her, she will also provide an experienced head alongside Labecki to help manage team tactics.

Emma Langley (EF Education-TIBCO-SVB)

Emma Langley won the US national title in June
(Photo: Casey B. Gibson)

Potential role: Domestique
Age: 26
Worlds pedigree: None

Langley is the second of three riders that is making her worlds debut in Wollongong. The 2022 season is her first full year as a professional and she has impressed, winning the U.S. road race title after breaking away with Lauren De Crescenzo. She also took the overall title at the Joe Martin Stage Race in May and was part of the team that helped Doebel-Hickok to victory in the Pyrénées.

Skylar Schneider (L39ion of Los Angeles)

Potential role: Domestique
Age: 23
Worlds pedigree: None

The youngest member of the team, Schneider is making her elite worlds debut in Wollongong. She has raced in the stars and stripes at the worlds in the past, finishing second to Elisa Balsamo in the junior road race in Qatar in 2016. Following a three-year spell with Boels-Dolmans (now SD Worx), Schneider returned to the U.S. last season with L39on of Los Angeles.

Schneider has predominantly raced criteriums this season with a string of victories to her name throughout the year. She has some success on the road with a win on the opening stage of the Joe Martin Stage Race and the recent national-level Wielerronde van Dirksland in the Netherlands. With most of her racing coming in the fast and furious world of crit racing, the worlds road race might be a shock to the system, but she has some good experience on the road and can provide some early support for the team.

Leah Thomas (Trek-Segafredo)

Potential role: Domestique, road captain
Age: 33
Worlds pedigree: 5th in the ITT in 2018, plus several further appearances

Thomas is a strong rider with a big engine, and she will likely play a key role in helping to control the peloton for the team. Her growing experience and level head also make her the perfect candidate to be the road captain for the squad.

As the U.S. national time trial champion, her first major goal will be the time trial on the opening Sunday, but she can also have a big impact in the road race. Over the last two seasons, Thomas gained experience working with Annemiek van Vleuten and Elisa Longo Borghini. She also loves an aggressive style of racing and won’t be afraid to put a cat among the pigeons in Wollongong, if she needs to.

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