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Six Durango mountain bikers named to world team

Durangoan Christopher Blevins of Team USA and Sina Frei of Switzerland celebrate after winning gold in the 2021 short track world championships in Val Di Sole, Italy. Blevins will defend the title in August. (Photo by Javier Martinez de la Puente/NurPhoto via AP)
Team USA is headed to Les Gets, France, for world championships Aug. 22-28

USA Cycling announced Wednesday the athletes who will represent the United States at the 2022 UCI Mountain Bike World Championships in Les Gets, France, on Aug. 22-28.

The world team includes six cross-country mountain bikers from Durango. Christopher Blevins and Savilia Blunk were named to the elite teams. Ruth Holcomb and Riley Amos made the U23 teams, and Lauren Aggeler and Bailey Cioppa earned spots on the women’s junior team.

After impressive results last weekend at the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup in Snowshoe, West Virginia, including an sweep of the elite short track titles, the team feels it’s in a good position for the world championships.

“The USA Cycling National Team showed what we’re capable of at Snowshoe, and the athletes are well-prepared for this World Championships,” said Jesse Anthony, USA Cycling’s Director of Cyclocross and Mountain Bike. “The U.S. mountain bike athletes have had a relatively quiet season on the World Cup circuit, and we have been slowly building momentum toward the end of the season. We are in an excellent position going into the World Championships, and U.S. fans have a lot to be excited about as the team heads to Les Gets.”

Blevins of Specialized Factory Racing, the defending short track world champion, won his first elite XCO World Cup in Snowshoe in 2021 and came back this year to take his first short track World Cup win in front of the home crowd. He'll head to the World Championships looking to defend his title.

Durango's Savilia Blunk of the Orange Seal Off-Road Team was selected to represent Team USA at the upcoming world championships in France. (Savilia Blunk/Instagram)

Blunk (Orange Seal Off-Road Team) and Gwendalyn Gibson (Ramona, California; Norco Bicycles) have had incredible results the past few weeks as well with Gibson winning the Snowshoe UCI Short Track World Cup and Blunk powering to her first elite cross-country national championship win. Both women also placed in the top 10 at Snowshoe in their first year in the elite XCO category. Blunk plans to skip the next World Cup race in Canada to prepare for the world championships.

XCO veterans and Olympians Haley Batten (Park City, Utah; Specialized Factory Racing) and Kate Courtney (Kentfield, California; SCOTT-SRAM Factory Racing) also have showed strong form recently.

In the U23 Men’s category, Amos (Trek Factory Racing) and Bjorn Riley (Boulder; Team Trek VAUDE) are two of the favorites going into the men’s race. Amos has landed on several World Cup podiums this season, even becoming the first American male to win a U23 World Cup in 2021. Unfortunately, Amos broke his collarbone during a training run at the national championships, but is looking to make a quick recovery and be back in time for worlds.

“Thank you (USA Cycling) for the chance to represent at the World Champs in France in just a couple of weeks,” Amos posted on Instagram. “First checkup to see how the bone is healing on Thursday; from there, we will hopefully be able to make the decision on if I will be able to race or not. Every day is a massive step forward, back to training as much as I can right now.”

Riley went on to win the U23 national title then narrowly missed out on a win in Snowshoe landing in second place on his first World Cup podium.

The U23 women’s category will be headlined by Madigan Munro (Boulder; Trek Factory Racing) who powered to her first U23 World Cup podium last weekend in Snowshoe after winning the U23 Cross-Country National Championship earlier in the week at Winter Park. Holcomb (Bear National Team) was also selected to represent Team USA. Holcomb sustained a concussion while training for nationals. She was cleared to race, but did not finish

Aggeler (Bear National Team), Cioppa (Bear National Team) and Chloe Fraser (Boulder; Boulder Junior Cycling), meanwhile, will represent Team USA on the Junior women’s team. Aggeler and Cioppa both won national titles in Winter Park recently as well, with Aggeler winning the cross-country race and Cioppa crowned on the short track.

The downhill team has been showing impressive results this season with the usual heavy hitters like National Champion Dakotah Norton (Oliver Springs, Tennessee; Intense Factory Racing), Aaron Gwin (Morongo Valley, California; Intense Factory Racing), and Luca Shaw (Hendersonville, North Carolina; Canyon Cllctv). The next generation has been making a splash in the Elite category with Dante Silva (Chula Vista, California; Canyon Cllctv Pirelli), Austin Dooley (Yucaipa, California; Commencal USA), and Christopher Grice (Brevard, North Carolina; Specialized Factory Racing) all continuously improving their results week after week on the World Cup circuit. On the elite women’s side, Anna Newkirk (Riehen, Switzerland; Beyond Racing) and Abby Hogie (Heidelberg, Germany; Beyond Racing) just came off of their best results of the season at the Snowshoe World Cup finishing ninth and 12th, respectively.