Three Durango mountain bikers were selected by USA Cycling for the Pan American Continental Mountain Bike Championships slated to take place this month in Puerto Rico.
Athletes are eager to get back to competition after the COVID-19 pandemic derailed the 2020 season. Action is scheduled for March 24-28 in Salinas, Puerto Rico.
For Durango, Christopher Blevins, Riley Amos and Ruth Holcomb were all selected to compete in their respective categories of cross-country mountain biking, giving Durango a quarter of the roster of the 12 athletes picked by USA Cycling.
“It is safe to say that everyone is excited to return to racing in Puerto Rico,” Jim Miller, USA Cycling’s Chief of Sport Performance, said in a news release. “With the entirety of our Olympic Long Team on the roster, this might be the best mountain bike team that USA Cycling has fielded at a Pan American Continental Championships.”
Blevins, who is competing with Utah’s Keegan Swenson for the lone men’s spot in the 2021 Tokyo Olympics, said he may not attend this year’s Pan American Championships. A gold medalist at the event in Mexico in 2019, Blevins is more focused on the start of International Cycling Union (UCI) World Cup racing, which will begin May 8 in Albstadt, Germany. He plans a trip in early April to Europe to begin preparation for the World Cups, which offer the most UCI points that determine start positions for UCI races.
“I am undecided if I will go to,” Blevins said. “I’ve got my eyes set on the Europe tripe in early April that will give me a good racing opportunity before the World Cups. The points from Pan Ams won’t help for call-ups.
“But I am really excited to get this season going. I think I am riding better than I ever have. It will be good to do this thing and finally race my bike again.”
Amos was selected to represent the U.S. in the men’s under-23 age group in his first year in the category. In 2019 in Mexico, Amos won a silver medal in the junior 17-18 category and teamed with Blevins to also win silver in the team relay. It was Amos’ international debut for USA Cycling, and he didn’t disappoint.
Overcoming knee pain during this offseason, Amos hopes to be in solid form after he won the pro race last weekend in a strong field at the International Cup event in St. George, Utah.
Holcomb was selected in the junior women’s category. She placed fourth in St. George last week behind college stars Gwendalyn Gibson, Katie Clouse and Ruby Ryan.
“I’m so excited. A lot of early-season races were already getting canceled again, so my hopes were low to go to this,” Holcomb said. “But it seems like it’s gonna happen. Racing for Team USA is always pretty special, so I definitely couldn’t be more excited about that. I would love to podium or win, and that’s a big goal I have.”