Cyclists from across the Americas are converging in Toronto, as the 2015 Pan American Games host 228 riders.
In all, 17 U.S. athletes will compete in a total of eight events over the span of 16 days.
During the road events, spectators will be treated to some of the most scenic views of any sport held at the Games. Longer road races will be held at Ontario Place West Channel, while the Milton Time Trial Course will play host to the individual time trials.
Eric Marcotte will be the lone participant for the men in both the road race and individual time trial events on July 25, placing a lot of responsibility on his shoulders to compete without a set of teammates.
On the women’s side of road cycling, the U.S. will be in good hands with Lauren Tamayo and Ruth Winder competing together in the road race, which comes after Kelly Catlin challenges for the individual time trial title.
The goal for riders during both road events is simply to complete the course faster than his or her fellow contenders, with the difference being that riders are all spaced out by 90 seconds throughout the time trial races for men and women.
In the always chaotic BMX races on July 11, the U.S. men’s duo of Connor Fields and Nic Long will be on the prowl to duplicate their impressive showing at the 2011 Games in Guadalajara that saw them earn gold and silver. The Centennial Park Pan Am BMX Centre in Etobicoke is the location of this year's series of races.
Newcomers Alise Post and Felecia Stancil will represent Team USA in the women’s BMX field, which has always served as a strong event for the United States.
Post views this year's Pan Am Games as a great opportunity to go up against some of the best cyclists in the world.
“We’ve got a lot of really good competition on the girls’ side,” Post said. “There’s probably four out of the top five girls in the world competing, so it will be great.”
She also appreciates the event for the ways it can ultimately prepare riders for the Olympic Games by providing a similar type of atmosphere.
“These Games are meant to replicate the Olympic atmosphere, by providing a great field of competitors and all those things that make the Games special,” she said. “You get all of that at the Pan Am Games as well.”
The newly built Cisco Milton Pan/Parapan Am Velodrome will be the site for all of the track cycling events from July 16 through 19. There are five at this year’s Games: sprint, keirin, team pursuit, team sprint and omnium.
David Espinoza, Matt Baranoski and Danny Robertson will all race in team pursuit for the men, while Baranoski and Robertson will also compete in team sprint and Keirin.
Catlin, Tamayo, Winder, Sarah Hammer and Jennifer Valente will compete in the team pursuit for the U.S., with Hammer, an Olympic silver medalist, also taking part in the omnium event. The group will attempt to stop the dominance of Venezuela and Colombia.
The mountain bike competition, which culminates into a cross-country race of almost four miles, will be held July 12 at Hardwood Mountain Bike Park for both the men and women. The U.S. will see both Kate Courtney and Erin Huck ride in the women’s race, followed by Stephen Ettinger and Spencer Paxson in the men’s race.
Ettinger spoke on how he views the Pan Am Games, with no direct Olympic qualification on the line.
“I see this competition as a pretty cool opportunity to race for Team USA,” he said. “It’s always important to show up and do well, because at the end of the day you’re racing for Team USA.”