Olympic champ Jennifer Valente, Chloe Dygert highlight US track cycling team picked for Paris Games

Jennifer Valente and Chloe Dygert will be busy during the Paris Olympics next month.

The pair of American cyclists highlight the track team that USA Cycling announced for the Summer Games on Thursday, and each will take part in multiple events. Valente will try to defend her title in the omnium while also contesting the Madison and team pursuit, and Dygert will join her on the pursuit squad while also competing in the road race and time trial.

“I’m excited to officially be named to my third Olympic team,” said Valente, who followed her Olympic triumph by winning the past two omnium world titles. "The journey to Paris has been its own unique process with new challenges in this shortened quad. I’m thrilled to be lining up alongside long-standing teammates and some fresh faces.”

Lily Williams will partner with Valente in the Madison and also take part in the pursuit squad, where the three returning riders from the bronze medal-winning squad in Tokyo will be joined by Kristen Faulkner and Olivia Cummins.

Grant Koontz will contest the only men's event for the U.S. after earning the nod for the omnium.

“The Olympics has been a lifelong obsession of mine, and I’m incredibly grateful to be named to the team,” he said. “I still can’t quite believe I’ll be representing Team USA in Paris this summer.”

The fact that Valente made the squad for Paris was a foregone conclusion; there are few more accomplished riders in the history of American track cycling. The 29-year-old from San Diego will be competing at the Olympics for the third time, and she is widely considered the favorite in the omnium, where she delivered the U.S. its first Olympic title in the event three years ago.

The two-day omnium, taking place along with the rest of the Olympic track program at Velodrome de Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines just outside of Paris, consists of the scratch race, tempo race, elimination race and points race.

The Madison is essentially a relay race while the team pursuit is contested by four riders picked from the five-person squad.

“We certainly have an incredible team this year heading to Paris,” said Gary Sutton, the women's endurance coach for USA Cycling. "After returning from an exceptionally successful training camp in Zolder (Belgium), the ladies have shown remarkable performance improvements and are poised to be highly competitive in Paris.”

While new to the team, Faulkner is hardly new to elite cycling. She has won three grand tour stages over the past two years, and her U.S. road race championship earlier this year was among the most dominant performances in the event's history.

Cummins represents the future of American cycling. The full-time college student will turn 21 during the Paris Games.

“I still don’t know how to put into words what making this Olympic team means to me," Cummins said. “The Olympics were never something I ever thought I would be able to achieve, so it was never a big dream of mine growing up. It was something the famous, professional athletes did. ... About a year ago, I found myself in a position where making this team became a possibility. I made the Olympics my dream a year ago, I committed fully to it, made sacrifices and I made it happen.”


AP Summer Olympics:

Dave Skretta, The Associated Press