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Team USA

How Does the Olympic Team Selection Work for Cycling in the U.S.?

By: Angelina Palermo  May 06, 2021

Making the final team headed to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games is something to be celebrated, but there is a lot of work behind the scenes for athletes to get to that point.

The Opening Ceremonies to the XXXII Olympiad are fast approaching. A lot has to happen between now and then to determine who will be punching their tickets to Tokyo to represent Team USA.

As most can imagine, Olympic qualifying is complex. The qualifying procedures start with the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) creating qualifying documents, which are then approved by the International Olympic Committee (IOC). These documents determine the number of starting positions associated with each Nations’ ranking. Throughout the Olympic qualifying period, every country is focused on their UCI Olympic Ranking to determine their athlete quota for the Games.

Next, USA Cycling creates its own extensive selection criteria to determine who will be selected for the Olympic Games. The criteria are written 36 months in advance of the Opening Ceremonies, and then must be approved and publicly posted 24 months ahead of the Games.

To create the Olympic Selection Criteria, an author works with the USA Cycling Discipline Directors to create each discipline’s criteria and then it is reviewed and approved by the USA Cycling Selection Committee. From there, the documents are sent to the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee (USOPC) where a Working Group reviews and approves the document. If the group requests changes, it is sent back to USA Cycling and the Selection Committee to be revised and returned back to the USOPC Working Group. Additionally, a USOPC Athletes’ Advisory Council Representative is included in the review of the criteria to ensure that athletes are represented in the process. This representative does not vote on the final selection of athletes, but can be used as a resource for athletes to discuss the details of the criteria and the selection. Once finalized, the Olympic Selection Criteria is posted on usacycling.org and USA Cycling works with the athletes to help them understand the criteria to qualify.

Even without a global pandemic, qualifying for an Olympic Team is a tedious process. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, rankings and qualifying opportunities came to a halt worldwide. The selection criteria had to be revised due to the postponement of the Games, then amended again to reflect the ever-changing event schedule and dates. The revisions and schedule changes included extensive communication and further verifications from the UCI, USOPC, and IOC.

The final Olympic Team for Road, Track, and Mountain Bike is chosen from the Olympic Long Team, announced in June 2020. BMX Racing and Freestyle do not have Long Teams. For Track and Road, the competition window to qualify for the Olympic Long Team closed on May 1, 2021. Mountain Bike athletes have until May 24, 2021 to qualify. For all other disciplines, the qualifying window is still open, with critical events happening in May and the beginning of June. Stay tuned on the USA Cycling social channels for the latest updates as athletes compete in these events, along with USA Cycling’s announcement of the final Olympic Team on June 10.

Curious how the event will run at the Olympics? Click on the discipline to learn more: BMX Racing, BMX Freestyle, Mountain Bike, Road, Track.

Click on each discipline to review the selection documents: BMX Racing, BMX Freestyle, Mountain Bike, Road, Track.