CYCLING NEWS: Bookwalter hoping to surprise in Olympic debut

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As one of only two Americans to make the men's road team for the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brent Bookwalter knows the odds are stacked against him for a podium spot, but the first-time Olympian is ready to give his best and hope he can pull off something special.

"The goal for the road race is to simply do the absolute best result that I can. I don't want to limit myself in any way," Bookwalter said. "I think the Olympic field and the Olympic event has sometimes shown it can produce some surprise results and surprise medallists, especially with the teams that are there, the team size and racing on a course that has rarely ever been raced on. I am feeling ambitious and motivated to be the best Brent Bookwalter there is and getting the most out of myself."

At 32, Bookwalter is in his ninth season with the BMC Racing Team, and has eight Grand Tours behind him, but none of that has jaded the experience of being a first-time Olympian.

"It is a little bit surreal to be going to the Olympics because the Olympics are one of these ionic events in my mind. From my memory of my childhood, I have watched and have been passionate about them. Now, to realize that I am going and I am going to be part of that center stage and taking part in the racing, is really inspiring and motivating and encouraging. I am trying to let that not detract from my preparation and stay confident in my own preparation. That is something I know has worked for me and that I have developed over the past 10 years in racing professionally."

Because the United States lacked WorldTour points, the country only earned two places for the Olympic Games men's road events this year. Bookwalter and Taylor Phinney will compete in both the road race and time trial. Having only two will be a disadvantage in the road race against powerful teams like those from Great Britain, Spain, Italy, Australia, or Colombia that have five riders, but Bookwalter doesn't think a result is impossible.