USA Cycling will have a familiar face directing its efforts at the Tokyo Olympics this year.
The national governing body announced Wednesday the return of Jim Miller as its head of elite athletics. Miller spent 17 years with USA Cycling, helping bring home 14 Olympic medals and numerous world championship titles, before resigning to spend the past two years with performance company TrainingPeaks.
"“I am excited to return to USA Cycling and build on the past successes to develop athletes to achieve more winning performances in the future,” Miller said. “I am eager to bring the data-focused learnings from TrainingPeaks I’ve developed over the past couple years and share them with the future stars of American cycling.”
Miller replaces Scott Schnitzspahn, who resigned earlier this week.
Along with new chief executive Rob DeMartini, Schnitzspahn had overseen a massive rebuild of USA Cycling's coaching staff since the Rio Olympics in 2016. Schnitzspahn also had applied what he had learned after seven years with the U.S. Olympic Committee to overhaul the way USA Cycling chooses athletes for international competition.
The work seems to have paid off, too.
Chloe Dygert won the time trial world championship and finished fourth in the road race last in the English town of Harrogate last September, and Americans swept the junior road races behind dominating performances by Quinn Simmons and Megan Jastrab. The U.S. also finished second on the medal table with a pair of golds and five total at the recent track cycling world championships in Berlin, and Kate Courtney is the reigning mountain bike World Cup champion.
"We thank Scott for all that he has done for this organization and the athletes,” DeMartini said. “We are confident in our position and readiness as we head into Tokyo and expect to deliver our performance commitments this summer.”
The Americans had a strong performance at the Rio Games, finishing third on the medal table in cycling with two golds and five total. That led to an infusion of financial support from the U.S. Olympic Committee, and put pressure on USA Cycling to produce even more gold in Tokyo — officials have set a goal of bringing home seven medals.
Dygert should be favored in the time trial, and she'll be part of the American women's pursuit team that shattered the world record at the track cycling championships. The U.S. also has medal hopefuls in Courtney, track cyclists Jennifer Valente and Ashton Lambie, and the men and women who will compete in BMX freestyle and racing.
“I think for all the challenges that USA Cycling has had in perception,” DeMartini told The Associated Press in a recent interview, “I have not sensed that in the coaching ranks. People know if you want to perform at the very top end of the sport, we're the people to work with.”