20 teams down, 1 to go. The USA has had an up and down year this year in the U23 ranks. There have been bright spots with Alexey Vermeulen and Colin Joyce taking some nice results as well as Geoffrey Curran's 3rd place in the Giro del Belvedere. There have been times where the team is absolutely anonymous and while this is a stage where getting used to the races and getting one's feet wet is important, at some point results do matter. In the Nations Cup, the USA is currently ranked 21st behind such nations as Estonia, Slovakia and Argentina. The team is brimming with talent but with trade team commitments, the best talent is not always available when needed.
Alexey Vermeulen, who would have been the team's best bet for a GC placing, is still sidelined with a wrist injury that he sustained in a huge pile-up at the Trofeo Almar.
Roster: Will Barta, Stephen Bassett, Geoffrey Curran, Colin Joyce, Justin Oien and Tyler Williams
Before sounding too defeatist, the team does have a lot of strong riders that might be able to pop out for a result.
Colin Joyce has had a number of top 10 finishes throughout the season this year with most of them being in sprints, including a 4th place in the final stage of the Tour Alsace. Like many guys that need some terrain to break up a flat sprint, perhaps stage 1 or 4 could be a chance for Joyce.
Oien is another rider that can surf a sprint but seems to be better out of a smaller group sprint. If he can get into a decisive breakaway, he could get himself a nice result or just some good time off the front like in Valle d'Aosta. Williams is another that can surf a sprint decently but he is a bit more of a hard man. Too bad there are no cobbles here...
Bassett seems to be in good form after a stage win in the Tour de Namur. Perhaps a breakaway?
Curran will need a breakaway for a result. He was 5th in a stage at Valle d'Aosta and if he is on his game, he can hang with the big guns. Lose time on GC and then get into a good breakaway in the mountains and see what happens? Hell, through Barta into the same category.
These guys just need to attack like hell every stage. Attack. Leave it all out there. There is no stud sprinter or climber that could take GC. Be aggressive and see what happens. At least you tried that way instead of staying in the back to finish 37th on the final climb. Be like a goddamn French rider in the Tour. If there is a breakaway, a USA rider should be in there.
Prediction: Attacks. Joyce finishes 5th in a sprint.