Female cyclists you should know

Before I write one more word about my own Olympic cycling quest, know this -- the United States has hundreds of elite female cyclists vying for their own incredible goals. From rookie sensations, to local talent, to Olympic and world champions, these names should be known:

Kristin Armstrong. Alison Powers. Evelyn Stevens. Mara Abbott. Theresa Cliff-Ryan. Carmen Small. Shelley Evans. Lauren Tamayo. Amber Neben. Kristin Sanders. Robin Farina. Andrea Dvorak. Katharine Carroll. Tayler Wiles. Kaitlin Antonneau. Coryn Rivera. Jessi Prinner.

There are more, of course. Many more. At the conclusion of each installment of London Calling, I'll end with a profile of an athlete you don't know but should. These are the unsung heroes of women's sports, who include teenage phenoms, college students, work-three-jobs-to-pay-for-racing-and-just-squeaking-by post-graduates, full-time moms, wives, 30-plus-year-old Olympic hopefuls, and every elite athlete who is going for gold medals, world titles, and professional ambition.

And so, let's kick off our "Athletes You Should Know" with cyclist Alison Powers of Pinecliffe, Colo.

Powers, 31, a five-year veteran of women's pro cycling, now races for the dominant U.S. pro team TIBCo/To The Top. As one of the strongest cyclists in the U.S., Powers is the 2008 National Time Trial Champion and winner of the NRC Joe Martin Stage Race in 2010. While her goal for 2011 is to "have fun," this is actually code for Powers' ability to put her competitors in the hurt locker -- and then beat the locker with a stick. (I know. I've been in it). Off the bike, Powers is a cycling coach who loves to bake, drink espresso and hit the Nordic ski tracks. Look for her to top time trial podiums in 2011.