The Pan American Road Continental Championships kicked off in Panama on Tuesday, where Amber Neben claimed the gold medal for the United States in the elite women’s time trial. The 48-year-old bested Chilean rider Aranza Villalón, while Paris-Roubaix winner Alison Jackson claimed the bronze medal for Canada.
The gold medal is the third in the Pan Ams for Neben, who won the time trial in 2012 and 2018. Neben is a two-time time trial world champion (2008, 2016) with a career spanning two decades.
The Continental championships are an important qualifier for the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris. There are only 88 places for the men’s and women’s road races, and allocations are based on the UCI Road World Ranking by nations for the year before the Olympic Games.
The United States is currently sixth in the nations ranking over 1,000 points behind France and Belgium. Neben’s 70 points will chip away at that margin.
Miguel Ángel López on a Strava rampage
On Wednesday, the elite men take the stage for the time trial where former WorldTour rider Miguel Ángel López, 29, will lead the contenders’ list for the gold medal.
López was sacked by Astana and has taken his case to CAS, claiming wrongful dismissal. He has been racing with the Continental Team Medellin-EPM in his home country of Colombia and dominating the regional circuit, winning the Vuelta a San Juan and national-level Vuelta al Tolima. He only came second in the Vuelta Bantrab because he and teammate Oscar Sevilla finished on the same time after trouncing the competition.
López is the current Colombian time trial champion and seems to be going into the Pan Ams to win. He’s recorded several reconnaissance rides on the time trial course on Strava.
In the past few months, López has gone on a Strava rampage in Colombia, taking segment records from riders like Sergio Higuita and Egan Bernal on climbs across the country: the Alto de Palmas in Medellin, the Alto de Choachí in Cundinamarca, the Alto de la Virgen in Guarne and the Alto del Kilómetro 18 in Cali.