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Best U.S. Cyclist Quits Team

AP Sports Writer
Wednesday, July 31, 1996 5:42 pm EDT

ATLANTA (AP) -- American cyclers expected unparalleled success at the Olympics. They got unprecedented turmoil instead.

Six-time world champion Rebecca Twigg, the best U.S. cyclist, quit the team over a feud with her national coach and won't ride in Saturday's time trial.

Twigg's departure apparently was spawned by her simmering feud with national coaching director Chris Carmichael, who criticized Twigg's training methods after her disappointing performance in the individual pursuit quarterfinals last Friday.

Twigg, who was competing in her third Olympics, returned to her home in Colorado Springs, Colo. She didn't return telephone messages left at her home Wednesday.

Carmichael said Twigg left the team Monday night without speaking to him.

``I really don't have much to say. She's not here anymore and she's in Colorado,'' Carmichael said.

Because they haven't dealt with an Olympian quitting before, USA Cycling officials don't know if Twigg can be replaced or whether the United States simply loses her spot in the race, U.S. Cycling spokesman Cheryl Kvasnicka said.

``Usually if it's illness or injury, it's automatic, you get another slot,'' Kvasnicka said. ``But in this case, we don't know.''

Kvasnicka said U.S. officials were talking with the International Olympic Committee and the international cycling federation to see if Twigg can be replaced. A decision was expected Thursday.

Carmichael said the team wasn't adversely affected by her departure.

``The team has handled it very well. We obviously got a bronze yesterday in the women's mountain bike event. The guys rode awesome today'' in the road race, he said.

Carmichael said road racer Jeanne Golay, who already doubled up and rode the points race last week, would join Linda Brenneman, of Dana Point, Calif., in Saturday's time trial, if the IOC allows.

Twigg won a bronze medal in the individual pursuit in Barcelona and a silver in the road race at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles. She was a heavy favorite in the individual pursuit in Atlanta after winning the world championship last year in world-record time.

She ran a discouraging race on her new SuperBike, however, and ditched the high-tech creation for her second heat. She fared no better on a conventional bike, failing to advance from Friday's quarterfinal round.

``I wasn't focused,'' Twigg said, blaming problems with her bicycle and frustrations with the U.S. Cycling Federation over its refusal to allow her personal coach to be with her at the games.

Afterward, Carmichael said he couldn't fathom how Twigg could start training in April for a race in July. He acknowledged he was ultimately responsible for his athletes, but said: ``You can't force riders to do things they don't want to.''

Twigg was infuriated.

``They've got to come up with some excuses'' she said, referring to the U.S. team's mostly dismal showing at the Olympics despite its multimillion-dollar training and technology program that produced the SuperBike.

Twigg criticized the bicycle, billed as the best on the planet. She said it wasn't properly custom-fit, and a second one was flown in the day before her competition.

Twigg also complained that Carmichael wouldn't allow her longtime personal coach, Eddie Borysewicz, to have an infield pass so he could help her at the Olympics.

``Everyone knows the rules,'' Carmichael said. ``We don't credential any personal coaches.''

Twigg said the U.S. coaches needed to be more flexible.

``I think the national federation needs to listen to the riders' needs,'' she said. ``This isn't a Communist country. Communism doesn't work. Every rider is different.''

© Copyright 1996 The Associated Press

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