Armstrong, Phinney lead US cycling

Former track cycling star Taylor Phinney will return to the Olympics on the road, while Kristin Armstrong will defend her gold medal in the women’s time trial at the London Games.

Armstrong and Phinney were among the 21 riders announced by USA Cycling for the Summer Olympics on Friday. The remaining three riders on the 24-rider team will be decided Saturday, when the BMX trials are held in Chula Vista, Calif.

”We have a strong team going to London with a solid combination of experience, leadership and young talented athletes who are all capable of standout performances,” USA Cycling vice president Jim Miller said in a statement. ”Each member of the team is deserving, we’re proud to welcome them as a part of Team USA and look forward to a promising Olympic Games.”

Phinney was an individual pursuit world champion, and would have been a medal favorite had the IOC not removed his event during an overhaul of the track program. The 21-year-old decided to leave the track altogether, instead turning all of his attention to his road career.

The former national time trial champion made a statement by winning the opening time trial at last month’s Giro d’Italia, and then hanging onto the pink jersey two more days. That performance likely locked up his spot for both the time trial and road race in London.

Phinney will be joined on the road team by newly crowned road national champion Timmy Duggan, veteran Chris Horner, up-and-coming rider Tejay van Garderen and sprinter Tyler Farrar.

Olympic veterans Levi Leipheimer, the defending bronze medalist in the time trial, and George Hincapie were passed over for what amounts to a relatively young squad.

Armstrong has returned from a brief retirement to win all eight of the international-caliber time trials she has entered this season. The three-time national time trial champion will be among the favorites in her favorite event over a course that passes some of London’s iconic landmarks.

Amber Neben will join Armstrong in contesting the time trial and road race, and Shelley Olds and Evelyn Stevens will also take part in the road race.

Sarah Hammer, Dotsie Bausch, Jennie Reed and Lauren Tamayo make up the women’s pursuit team, with Hammer also competing in the omnium. Hammer is a former individual pursuit world champion who switched to the multi-discipline omnium when her signature event was eliminated from the program.

Bobby Lea will ride the men’s omnium and Jimmy Watkins the men’s sprint.

Todd Wells and Samuel Schultz will compete in men’s mountain biking over a course in Hadleigh Park, east of London. Georgia Gould qualified for the women’s team by ranking in the top 10 in the World Cup standings, and will be joined by Lea Davison in the competition.

David Herman and Arielle Martin have already qualified for the BMX team by virtue of their No. 1 positions in USA Cycling’s power rankings. One men’s spot will be awarded to the winner of Saturday’s trials, and the final men’s and women’s spots will be discretionary nominations.