As Adam Craig ate his dinner in a French chalet while snow was falling outside one evening earlier this week, he did so knowing that his chances to reclaim a position on the U.S. Olympic Mountain Biking Team are slim at best.
Craig, the Exeter native who qualified for the 2008 Summer Games in Beijing, currently is lagging behind several other U.S. riders as they compete in the first four races of the International Cycling Union’s World Cup circuit for the two available berths on the national team for the 2012 Summer Games in London come August.
Three of those races already have been held, the most recent last weekend in Nove Mesto na Morave, Czech Republic, where Craig finished 75th overall but more importantly fourth among the American contingent behind Sam Schultz (20th), Todd Wells (32nd) and Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski (49th).
Like Craig, Wells and Horgan-Kobelski are former Olympians, Wells in 2004 and 2008 and Horgan-Kobelski in 2004.
There’s one more World Cup race that will figure in this year’s selection process, coming Sunday in La Bresse, France.
“How do I put this lightly?” said the 30-year-old graduate of Dexter Regional High School in an email. “I’m not going to the Olympics. This weekend is effectively the last selection event, and there are four people, Schultz, Wells, [Stephen] Ettinger and JHK who have done consistently and ultimately better than me in the last two years.
“My body just doesn’t race the World Cup pace like it used to,” added Craig, who suffered a torn ACL in 2010. “And I’m OK with that.”
Craig could still earn an automatic berth on the U.S. team with a top-five finish at La Bresse, but given his performance record so far this season and the quality of the world-class field that has assembled in France it’s unlikely to happen.
“That said, I’m still going to try to go from 75th to fifth this weekend, which would make a case, if a weak one,” said Craig.
Craig finished 55th in the first World Cup race of the season at Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, then fell to 130th in the second event at Houffalize, Belgium.
That compares to his early season performances in 2008, when he placed eighth in a World Cup event in Offenburg, Germany, finished among the top 20 finishers at four World Cup races and was the top-ranked American and 16th in the overall ICU point standings.
Craig currently ranks 78th in this year’s point standings and fourth among the Americans behind Wells (21st), Schultz (43rd) and Horgan-Kobelski (61st). Ettinger ranks 94th overall in the point standings, which are determined over a 12-month cycle, not by calendar year.
Selections to the 2012 U.S. Olympic Mountain Bike Team are expected to be announced June 15.