Cycling

  
2012 Preview
Men’s Road Cycling
With a legacy of strength in the race against the clock, the United States is a likely favorite to bring home a medal for its fifth Olympic Games in a row in the men’s road cycling time trial. A flat road race course is expected to offer medal potential to sprint-specialists and the U.S., filled with a new generation of some of the world’s best young talent, is poised to grab a surprise medal in London’s road race.
 
The 240-kilometer (150 mile) men's road race will take place July 28 and will start at The Mall and head past Buckingham Palace and Hyde Park, before going through Kensington, Chelsea and Fulham, out to Surrey for nine laps around 15.5-kilometer Box Hill circuit, before returning into the city via the King's Road. The course includes 1,500 meters of vertical ascent, which will likely favor a sprinter.
 
The men’s 44-kilometer time trial will take place Aug. 1 and will consist of a single lap beginning and ending at London’s Hampton Court Bridge with a trek through Claremont Gardens, Richmond Park and Kingston Bridge. The course is described as an all-around time trial course with a nice mixture of everything from technical aspects such as corners and climbs and a few long straights.
 
Women’s Road Cycling
The United States’ legacy of strength in the time trial clearly applies across both genders with the women posting three top-five results in the last two Olympic Games in the race against the clock. After a fourth-place finish with Christine Thorburn in 2004 and Kristin Armstrong’s time trial gold, the American ladies will be aiming for a pair of time trial medals this time around. With some of the world’s best time trial athletes to support some emerging sprinters, the U.S. ladies look to be as strong as any nation in the road race.
 
The 130-kilometer (81 mile) women’s road race will take place on July 29 and will follow the same route as the men’s event, but with only two laps of the Box Hill circuit.  
 
The 29-kilometer women’s time trial will take place on Aug. 1 and will run on a similar route to the men, beginning and ending at London’s Hampton Court Bridge.
 
Track Cycling
Changes in the Olympic track cycling program for 2012 include the elimination of the men’s and women’s individual pursuit, a traditional American strength, as well as the points race, scratch race and men’s Madison. In place of the four eliminated events, the International Olympic Committee has added the team sprint, team pursuit and the multi-event omnium competition. In addition to the program changes, the mandate that only one start spot per country will be awarded could add another dynamic change to the track competition in London, leaving traditional powerhouses like Great Britain and Australia with the possibility of far fewer representatives in 2012.
 
The track cycling competition will take place July 28-Aug. 12 in Velopark – a velodrome facility inside London’s Olympic Park.
 
Mountain Bike
Currently ranked fifth in the world in women’s mountain biking, the United States ladies will have their best shot at an Olympic medal in mountain biking since Susan DeMattei’s bronze when the sport made its Olympic debut in 1996. The American men are likely to use a crew of veterans to try and grab a surprise medal in London.
 
The mountain bike competition will run Aug. 11-12 at Hadleigh Farm in Essex.
 
BMX
Currently ranked third and second in the world in men’s and women’s BMX, the United States continues to be a powerhouse in the sport it invented. After bringing home exactly half of the BMX hardware from the inaugural BMX Olympic competition in Beijing, the U.S. will be looking to top that three-medal total in London.
 
The BMX competition runs from Aug. 8-10 at the 400-meter BMX track at Velopark inside London’s Olympic Park.
 
Storylines
  • Olympic Track Cycling Program Changes: In the name of gender parity, four events were taken off the Olympic track cycling slate: the men’s and women’s individual pursuit, points race, scratch race and men’s Madison. In place of the four eliminated events, the International Olympic Committee added the team sprint, team pursuit and the multi-event omnium competition. While the elimination of the individual pursuit is a blow to the American squad that has won nearly half of the world championships in that event over the last four years; the mandate that no more than one start spot per country will be awarded for each event is likely to have an even larger effect on traditional track cycling powerhouses like Great Britain and Australia, leaving them with the possibility of far fewer representatives in 2012.
  • Taylor Phinney is poised to follow in his parents’ footsteps as a successful competitive cyclist. His mother, Connie Carpenter-Phinney, was the first-ever Olympic gold medalist in the women’s road race at the 1984 Games in Los Angeles. His father, Davis, was the first American ever to win a road stage of the Tour de France and was an Olympic bronze medalist in 1984 as a member of the men’s team time trial squad. A combination of genetics and talent is responsible for Taylor’s quick ascent to the elite levels of competitive track cycling. In his first-ever track race in October 2007 at the age of 17, Taylor won an elite national championship in the men’s 4000-meter individual pursuit. The 2007 Junior World Time Trial champion on the road quickly proved his success on the track wasn’t a fluke, finishing second on the 2007-08 UCI Track World Cup circuit. The phenom went on to place eighth at the 2008 Olympic Games in the individual pursuit, won an individual pursuit world championship, grabbed the world championship bronze in only his second-ever omnium competition, and is currently riding as the stagiaire for Lance Armstrong’s professional Radio Shack squad. He’s also related to Olympic gymnasts Paul and Morgan Hamm.
  • As an Olympic hopeful in the sport of cycling, Arielle Martin has a story unlike that of any other world-class cyclist. While competing for her country around the globe, her husband, Spc. Mike Verhaaren, is busy serving it. He’s currently an active soldier, flying and maintaining Black Hawk helicopters in Afghanistan.
  • Should mountain bikers Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski and Heather Irmiger qualify for the 2012 U.S. Olympic Team, they will become the first married couple to compete in the cross country mountain bike event at the same Olympic Games. After both won the 2009 USA Cycling Mountain Bike Cross Country National Championship and found the podium again in 2011, that outcome is a likely reality.
  • The former model and rower fell to her low battling drug addiction and eating disorders, but when a friend put her on a bike, Dotsie Bausch found her calling. The Kentuckian teamed with Sarah Hammer and Jennie Reed to earn a silver medal in the women’s team pursuit at 2011 Track World Championships.
  • In 2008, Evelyn Stevens watched the Games from the comfort of her Wall Street office. The former banker experienced a quick rise to cycling stardom, winning a Central Park criterium and, after winning consecutive time trial national championships, is now a likely candidate to contest both the road race and time trial in London.
  • Tyler Farrar worked his way up through USA Cycling’s Development Programs into the highest ranks of professional cycling, but his toughest test came on Oct. 22, 2008, when his father – Dr. Ed Farrar, an athletic, adventurous recreational cyclist – was struck by a car and paralyzed near his home in Wenatchee, Wash. Tyler also was profoundly affected by the untimely passing of his friend, Wouter Waylandt, who died after crashing during a stage of the Giro d’Italia. After winning Stage 3 of the 2011 Tour de France on July 4, Farrar formed a “W” with his fingers, dedicating the stage win to Weylandt’s memory.
Key Athletes
Bios for all top Olympic hopefuls are available here
  
Men’s Road Cycling  
Reigning Olympic time trial bronze medalist Levi Leipheimer is not only amongst the favorites to return for his third Olympic Games, but the 2007 Tour de France overall podium finisher looks to again be a favorite in the race against the clock after placing second in the 2011 Tour of California time trial. Another of the world’s top individual time trialists and the only American ever to win a stage in each of cycling’s Grand Tours, Dave Zabriskie also has his eye on London after regaining the stars-and-stripes as the individual time trial national champion. Then to be 22-year-old phenom, Taylor Phinney, already a multiple-time individual pursuit world champion and Olympian on the track, is a possible contender to become a multi-discipline Olympian in 2012 as the 2008 Junior World Time Trial champion continues coming into his own among the elite ranks of road cycling.
 
The United States is also home to one of professional cycling’s top sprinters as Tyler Farrar celebrated America’s birthday by winning an all-out sprint to the finish to capture Stage 3 of the 2011 Tour de France (on July 4, no less!). Farrar is commonly known as one of the best cycling sprinters in the world, next to Great Britain’s Mark Cavendish. The flat to rolling course planned for the streets of London is almost certain to set the stage for the pair to fight for the Olympic gold. After contesting the Games on the track in 2000 and on the road on 2008, veteran Christian Vande Velde will look to bring some experience to a likely young men’s road squad. A solid all-around rider, Jason McCartney also looks to have a solid chance to land a spot on the five-man squad. Currently the top American inside the top 10 at the 2011 Tour de France, veteran Tom Danielson may break through a talented peloton of Americans to grab an Olympic start spot in the road race. At the age of 40, Chris Horner is another American veteran who, with his win at the 2011 Tour of California, may be peaking at just the right time.
 
Several up-and-comers are also likely candidates to earn spots to represent the stars-and-stripes. With a third-place overall finish in the 2010 Dauphine Libre, a standout performance at the 2011 Tour de France and several podium appearances in major international competition, 21-year-old Tejay Van Garderen looks to make a run at the 2012 squad, as does another great young all-arounder Peter Stetina. After snagging a second-place time trial stage finish in the 2010 Giro d’Italia, Brent Bookwater, along with another strong youngster Bjorn Selander have the potential to break into the London roster.
 
Women’s Road Cycling
Despite officially retiring and recently giving birth to her first child, Olympic gold medalist Kristin Armstrong should not be counted out of the London squad. Armstrong effectively announced her return to competitive cycling in 2011 with time trial wins at the Tour of California and the Nature Valley Grand Prix. Another veteran Olympian and former time trial world champion, Amber Neben looks poised to make another run at the Games. Emerging in just the last three years as one of the top female talents in the cycling world, the former Wall Street banker turned professional cyclist Evelyn Stevens will be a favorite to make the squad after defeating both Armstrong and Neben to win the 2010 and 2011 USA Cycling Time Trial National Championships. Also vying for a spot will be defending elite women’s national criterium champion, Shelley Olds. Establishing herself as one of the world’s top climbers, 2010 Giro Donne winner, Mara Abbott, will be gunning for London, as will veteran sprint specialists Amanda Miller, Brooke Miller and Theresa Cliff-Ryan.
 
Track Cycling
2010 world pursuit champion Taylor Phinney is poised to take on the omnium competition at the Olympic Games, after earning a world championship bronze in only his second time contesting the multi-event competition in 2010. Officials look for the young Phinney, who finished eighth in the individual pursuit at the 2008 Olympic Games, to return to the track this fall to help improve U.S. chances at a men’s track cycling medal.
 
After the elimination of the individual pursuit, a similar scenario looks to play out on the women’s side with multi-time world pursuit champion Sarah Hammer going after a spot in the women’s omnium. Hammer has proven herself as one of the world’s top all-around female track riders by winning the individual pursuit race and placing second in the omnium at both the 2010 and 2011 UCI Track Cycling World Championships. Teaming up with Dotsie Bausch and Jennie Reed in the women’s team pursuit at the 2011 World Championships, the trio won the silver medal in the soon-to-be new Olympic event. Hammer and Bausch also joined Lauren Tamayo in making some waves in 2010, breaking a world record in the time trial in their first year training for the event. With a women’s team pursuit squad that fields three, it is shaping up to be a four-woman race for the trio of spots. A few additional talented ladies could also contend for one of those spots on the team pursuit squad, including road cross-over Cari Higgins.
 
With her omnium and team pursuit silvers medals at the 2011 World Championships, Hammer has once again set herself up as a multiple-medal favorite heading into these Olympic Games.
 
Former British Olympic track cycling star, Jamie Staff has been recently hired as USA Cycling’s track sprint programs director, and will be looking to qualify sprinters for London, but has most sights set on the 2016 Games. The former BMX and track world champion may be looking to encourage other BMX crossovers to help fill a roster.
 
Mountain Bike
Following his recent back-to-back national titles, multi-time Olympian Todd Wells looks to be a front runner to contend his third Olympic Games. After missing the 2008 Games, 2004 Olympian Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski has an eye on London, as does 2008 Olympian Adam Craig, who is returning from knee surgery. Horgan-Kobelski topped the men’s short-track cross-country podium at 2011 USA Cycling Mountain Bike Cross-Country National Championships, while Craig won his sixth Super D national title. The veteran trio will likely be pushed by emerging youngster Sam Schultz, who has seen success on the world-cup circuit this season.
 
Competition for the women’s team is almost certain to be a six-way battle for the two spots. After just missing the 2008 squad, Willow Koerber emerged as a front-runner following a pair of world cup-medal performances in 2010 and a stint in the leader’s rainbow jersey. Koerber, however, is taking some time off the bike, as she is expecting her first child in December. If she is able to recover and regain form quickly, she could still qualify for the 2012 Games with world-cup success in early 2012. After finishing eighth at the Beijing Games, Georgia Gould is making her case to return and hunt for a medal after collecting a national championship win and a world-cup medal of late. The third-ranked American woman in international rankings, Heather Irmiger, wife of fellow mountain biker Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski, remains in contention for a spot on the London squad. Two-time Olympic veteran Mary McConneloug will take another shot at the Games despite recovering from illness. Katie Compton, a world championship medalist in the non-Olympic discipline of cyclo-cross and former Paralympic competitor as the pilot of a blind tandem team, is also gearing up for a serious run at the women’s mountain squad. Compton added two medals to her collection by placing third in the cross-country race at the recent USA Cycling Mountain Bike Cross-Country National Championships. Relative newcomer Lea Davison is making a strong bid for her contention, finishing a close second behind Gould at nationals.
 
BMX
A slew of top talent will have to battle it out for the three spots offered on the U.S. team, making the U.S. Olympic Team BMX Trials one of the world’s toughest competitions. 2009 world champion and Olympic bronze medalist Donny Robinson, Olympic silver medalist Mike Day, and 2008 world champion and Olympian Kyle Bennett will again be front runners for the squad. However, the veterans will face definitive challenges from a strong group of up-and-comers whose results have passed the veterans of late. Currently leading the USA Cycling BMX power rankings, Corben Sharrah, who medaled in each of the first two Supercross World Cups, including winning the opening round in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, looks to be a front runner for the team. Connor Fields recorded several world-cup podium near-misses in the elite men’s division. Nic Long, David Herman, Joshua Myers and Tyler Brown have also shown tremendous potential on the international stage and along with a handful of others will challenge for a spot on the squad.
 
After barely missing the Beijing squad, Arielle Martin has her sights set on London. The 25-year-old wife of an Air Force pilot, Martin has shown she’s up for the challenge after finishing third in the 2009 overall world cup BMX rankings. Alise Post was the decided winner at the 2011 USA Cycling BMX National Championships in Chula Vista, Calif., in April and hasn’t slowed since. Amanda Carr currently leads the USA Cycling BMX power rankings, and joins Amanda Geving, Brooke Crain and Ashley Verhagen, who are all poised to push for the two-woman team.
 
Selection Procedures
Men’s Road Cycling
Qualification of # of Start Spots
The maximum number of start spots in men’s road racing for the 2012 Olympic Games has been reduced from six to five. The top-10 countries as determined by the UCI’s 2011 final nation ranking will earn the right to send the maximum number of riders to contest the 2012 Olympic men’s road race, which is set to finish in London’s Regent’s Park. As the seventh-ranked country in men’s road cycling in the rankings as of July 15, 2011, the United States is poised to send a full squad to contest the sprinter-friendly London course.

In order for two of these gentlemen to start the time trial portion, the U.S. must have at least one rider internationally ranked in the top 15 overall at the conclusion of 2011 and one finish inside the top 10 in the race against the clock at the 2011 UCI World Championships.
  
Athlete Selection Procedures
Key events: 2011 World Championships and UCI Pro Tour and Grand Tour events (men only)
There is no ‘long team’ in men’s road cycling, but the final team (maximum of five members) will be named on June 15, 2012.

Final Team Criteria
Any eligible U.S. athlete placing the following may be automatically nominated to the 2012 Olympic Team:
Road Race –
  • Top three of the UCI Men’s Elite Time Trial Championships, Copenhagen, Denmark, Sept. 21-25, 2011
  • Top three of the UCI Men’s Elite Road Race Championships, Copenhagen, Denmark, Sept.  21-25, 2011
  • Top three individual time trial at a UCI Grand Tour (Giro Italia, Tour de France, Vuelta Espana) event, provided the distance of the time trial is greater than 40K, between July 1, 2011 and May 31, 2012 
  • Top three individual general classification at a UCI Grand Tour (Giro Italia, Tour de France, Vuelta  Espana) event between July 1, 2011 and May 31, 2012
  • Ranked in the top 10 of the Men’s UCI world individual rankings as of June 15, 2012
    Time Trial –
  • All final nominees for the 2012 Olympic Games Team will come from the previously nominated Olympic Road Team: a maximum of two start positions will be nominated for the time trial.
  • Top three of the UCI Men’s Elite Time Trial Championships, Copenhagen, Denmark, Sept. 21-25, 2011
  • Top three individual time trial at a UCI Grand Tour (Giro Italia, Tour de France, Vuelta Espana) event, provided the distance of the time trial is greater than 40K, between July 1, 2011 and May 31, 2012
Women’s Road Cycling
Qualification of # of Start Spots
Currently ranked ninth in women’s road cycling in the UCI nation rankings, the United States is on the fringe of qualifying the maximum of four start spots for the Olympic Games. The U.S. will have to wait until May 31, 2012, to be certain, as only the top-five internationally ranked nations on that date will be allowed to start four ladies.
In order for two of the women to start the time trial portion, the U.S. must have at least one rider internationally ranked in the top 15 overall as of May 31, 2012, and one finish inside the top 10 in the race against the clock at the 2011 UCI World Championships. 
 
Athlete Selection Procedures
Key Events: 2011 Road Cycling World Championships and major UCI calendar events from Jan. 1- May 31, 2012

The women’s road cycling ‘long team’ will be nominated per criteria in the selection procedures on Dec. 1, 2011, with the final team (maximum of four members) named on June 15, 2012.
Final Team Criteria
Any eligible U.S. athlete meeting the following may be automatically nominated to the 2012 Olympic Team:
Road Race –
  • All final nominees for the 2012 Olympic Games team will come from a previously named long team
  • Top three of the 2011 UCI Women’s Elite Time Trial World Championships in Copenhagen, Denmark, Sept. 21-25, 2011
  • Top three of the 2011 UCI Women’s Elite Road Race World Championships in Copenhagen, Denmark, Sept. 21-25, 2011
  • A long team athlete that wins a 2012 UCI World Cup event provided said athlete is in the top 10 of the UCI Women’s Individual World Cup rankings as of May 31, 2012
    Time Trial –
  • All final nominees for the 2012 Olympic Games team will come from a previously named long team
  • Top three of the 2011 UCI Women’s Elite Time Trial World Championships in Copenhagen, Denmark, Sept. 21-25, 2011
Track Cycling
Qualification of # of Start Spots
The top countries in the UCI Olympic track ranking, which will be determined based on results from the 2011 and 2012 Continental Championships, world cups and world championships, will be awarded start spots for the 2012 Olympic Games. The following ranked nations will be awarded a maximum of one start spot per event for men and women.
  • Team Sprint: top 10
  • Sprint: top 8
  • Keirin: top 8
  • Team Pursuit: top 10
  • Omnium: top 18

Athlete Selection Procedures
Key events: UCI Track World Championships  and UCI Track World Cup competitions held between Jan. 1 and Dec. 15, 2011

The men’s and women’s track cycling ‘long teams’ will be nominated per criteria in the selection procedures on Dec. 15, 2011, with the final teams (maximum four members) named on June 15, 2012.

Mountain Bike
Qualification of # of Start Spots
Qualification period: mid-2010-mid-2012

Currently ranked 13th in the UCI’s Olympic qualification ranking, the U.S. mountain bike men will have to move up into fifth to grab the third start spot, a feat the group failed to accomplish in 2008, sending only two to Beijing.
 
With a total of only two start spots on the line, the fifth-ranked American women seem on the brink of fielding a full squad in London in a scenario that offers the top-eight women’s nation’s the max number of starts. 
 
Athlete Selection Procedures
Key events: 2011 UCI Mountain Bike World Championships, 2012 UCI Mountain Bike Cross-Country World Cups  and UCI calendar international events.

The men’s and women’s mountain bike ‘long teams’ will be nominated per criteria in the selection procedures on Dec. 1, 2011, with the final teams (maximum four members) named on June 15, 2012.

Final Team Criteria
Any eligible U.S. athlete meeting the following may be automatically nominated to the 2012 Olympic Team:
  • All final nominees for the 2012 Olympic Games team will come from a previously named long team
  • Top five in the 2011 UCI Elite Men’s World Cross-Country Championships, Champery, Switerland, Aug. 29-Sept. 4
  • Top three in the 2011 UCI Elite Women’s World Cross-Country Championships, Champery, Switerland, Aug. 29-Sept. 4
  • Top five at a 2012 UCI World Cup Men’s Cross-Country event between Jan. 1 and May 22, 2012
  • Top three at a 2012 UCI World Cup Women’s Cross-Country event between Jan. 1 and May 22, 2012
  • The highest ranked athlete in the men’s UCI individual world cup rankings as of May 31, 2012, provided that athlete is ranked in the top 15 overall
  • The highest ranked athlete in the women’s UCI individual world cup rankings as of May 31, 2012, provided that athlete is ranked in the top 10 overall
BMX
Qualification of # of Start Spots
Qualification period: mid-2010-mid-2012

Currently ranked third in the UCI nation rankings, the U.S. men’s BMX team looks poised to earn all three start spots that are awarded to the top-five ranked countries. The ladies are currently ranked second internationally and look to be on pace to receive the max of two start spots awarded to the top four nations. After missing out on that second spot in Beijing, USA Cycling‘s new women’s development program aim is to send two ladies to London and every Games thereafter.

Athlete Selection Procedures
Key events: The events of the USA Cycling BMX power rankings between Aug. 1, 2011, and May 26, 2012 and the USA Cycling Olympic Trials (men’s only) in Chula Vista, Calif., on June 16, 2012 

The men’s BMX ‘long team’ will be nominated per criteria in the selection procedures on May 31, 2012, with the final team named on June 18, 2012.

There is no ‘long team’ for women’s BMX. The final team will be named on June 18, 2012.

Final Team Criteria
Any eligible U.S. athlete meeting the following may be automatically nominated to the 2012 Olympic Team:
  • All final nominees for the 2012 Olympic Games men’s team will come from a previously named long team
  • Top-ranked athlete in the USA Cycling BMX power rankings
  • Winner of the USA Cycling Olympic Trials men’s race
**These are unofficial summaries of qualification criteria and are NOT official qualification documents. Please click here for official information.**