Arbitrator forces change to US team for world championships
RICHMOND, Va. (AP) Lauren Komanski replaced Allie Dragoo on the U.S. team for the road cycling world championships after an arbitrator's ruling late Tuesday, less than four days before the start of the race.
The arbitrator did not disclose the reasoning behind the ruling because of time constraints, but a full opinion is expected within 30 days. The decision means Komanski will be part of a seven-rider team with strong medal aspirations while Dragoo will serve as the first alternate.
Dragoo was originally chosen by USA Cycling as one of its discretionary selections, which are primarily based on past performance and race potential. But while the 26-year-old Dragoo had performed well in the U.S. of late, Komanski has more international experience, including a series of solid results in European races against many of the other riders in Saturday's road race.
''As the arbitrator noted in his findings, there was no evidence of `bad faith' or `gross error' in the decisions taken by USA Cycling and that the case was a close call,'' USA Cycling chief executive Derek Bouchard-Hall said in a statement. ''We recognize this is a very difficult situation.''
Dragoo would have been making her first appearance at the world championships. And in an awkward twist, Dragoo and the 30-year-old Komanski ride for the same trade team, Twenty16-Sho-Air.
This is not the first time USA Cycling's roster selection has been questioned.
Earlier this year, Kristin Armstrong was chosen for the time trial at the Pan-Am championships in Mexico. But after a dispute over the selection criteria used by USA Cycling, the federation decided to revert to an older criteria and give the spot to Tayler Wiles instead.
Still, that decision was rendered well in advance of the championships. In this case, Komanski will have only a few days to get up to speed with the rest of the U.S. team.
The Americans have been considered heavy favorites to land at least one rider on the podium in Richmond, a fact that doesn't change with the late roster shakeup. Megan Guarnier and Lauren Stephens have had stellar seasons, Wiles and Evelyn Stevens are strong all-round riders capable of landing in a breakaway, and Shelley Olds and Coryn Rivera pack a powerful finishing sprint.
''We are fortunate that we have such depth in our program that make team selections very difficult,'' Bouchard-Hall said. ''Now we turn our focus to representing our country this weekend.''