Cycling Preview
At the Olympic Games, there are five major disciplines in the sport of cycling: BMX freestyle, BMX racing, mountain biking, road cycling and track cycling. BMX freestyle is making its debut at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, with several U.S. athletes among the favorites. The U.S. Olympic Cycling Team ranks fifth in the all-time medal table, having earned 55 podium finishes, including five at Rio 2016.

Discipline Overview:
BMX Freestyle:
BMX freestyle is a discipline new to the 2020 Olympic Games where the riders perform two-minute runs executing a sequence of tricks on different obstacles contained within a park designed for BMX riders. Such obstacles include spines, walls, and box jumps, etc. In competition, riders are judged on quality of their performance, taking into account difficulty, originality, and style. U.S. BMX freestyle athletes are among the favorites looking towards the discipline’s Olympic debut. With three world champions – Hannah Roberts (2017 & 2019), Perris Benegas (2018) and Justin Dowell (2018) – it’s apparent that the U.S. not only has top athletes but also the depth to back it up.

BMX Racing:
BMX racing turned 50 in July 2019, tracing its origins to Southern California where kids on modified 20" Schwinn Stingray bicycles would race around a vacant lot in 1969. Unbeknownst to these kids, who were only trying to imitate their motorcycle racing idols, they created a sport of their very own. At first, the sport was called pedal-cross, but eventually, they would settle on bicycle motocross, or BMX for short. Nowadays, BMX racing is a sprint sport where the starting gate is three stories high and jumps are up to forty feet in length. From the start lines, riders go from zero to around 35 mph in roughly two seconds, often producing upwards of 2500 watts coming off of an eight-meter-tall starting hill – and that's only the first two seconds of the race.

American BMX racers who grew up racing had the chance to see the sport make its Olympic debut at Beijing 2008. Team USA went on to win three Olympic medals in Beijing. For the 2016 Games, Team USA had their best result in the Olympic history of the sport with Connor Fields winning men’s gold and Alise Willoughby (Post) winning silver in the women’s event for the U.S. Overall, the USA leads the BMX racing Olympic medal count to date with five Olympic medals (one gold, two silvers and two bronzes).

Mountain Biking:
Mountain biking is another cycling discipline considered to be invented by Americans. The first mountain bike competitions were held in California in the early eighties. Although there are several sub-disciplines within mountain biking, cross-country is the one which is part of the Olympic program. Cross-country races are held on courses that range in distance from four to six kilometers with technical descents, forest roads, rocky paths and obstacles .

U.S. rider Kate Courtney won the 2019 UCI Mountain Bike World Cup overall title and was the world champion in the event in 2018. Up-and-coming rider Christopher Blevins also placed second in the U23 category of the 2018 world championships.

Road Cycling:
Road cycling has been part of the Olympic Games program since its first edition in 1896. Today we see two different types of road events during the Olympic Games: the road race and the individual time trial. Both the road race and time trial at Tokyo 2020 will feature backdrops of Mount Fuji – the men’s road race will climb the lower slopes of Japan’s highest mountain.

During the road race, the riders start together as a group, also known as a peloton or field, with countries using team tactics to best position the nation’s rider who is most suited for the course. The U.S. women have several strong women who could be contenders for medals including reigning national champion Ruth Winder, Coryn Rivera, and Tayler Wiles.

During the individual time trial, riders set off individually at regular intervals (one to two minutes apart). The competitor who completes the course in the fastest time is the winner. The men’s and women’s time trial courses – 44.2 kilometers and 22.1 kilometers respectively – share the same loop, though the men will complete two laps. Reigning world champion Chloe Dygert, two-time world champion Amber Neben, and Pan-American champion Leah Thomas are all strong contenders for top finishes.

Track Cycling:
Track racing dates back to the end of the nineteenth century, with the first world championships held in 1893. Track cyclists typically carry more muscle mass on their bodies than road cyclists, allowing for quicker acceleration during the shorter track events. There are six track cycling events contested at the Olympic Games: the keirin, madison, omnium, team pursuit, individual sprints, and team sprint. The U.S. women won two track cycling medals at the Rio 2016 Games and hope to improve upon that success at Tokyo 2020.

Several promising track cycling athletes and teams look to punch tickets to Tokyo 2020. Having earned a gold medal in the Pan-American Games Lima 2019 as well as a silver at the Olympic Games Rio 2016 – in addition to three world championship titles, in recent years  – the women’s team pursuit squad is looking to earn the top step in Tokyo. Individual pursuit world record holder Chloe Dygert is vying for a spot on the team alongside fellow Rio 2016 teammate Jennifer Valente and a pool of promising riders. Jennifer Valente is looking to represent the U.S. in the women’s omnium, a multiple-race event consisting of a scratch race, tempo race, elimination race and points race, in which Valente placed third in the 2019 world championships.

Updated on July 20, 2020. For more information, contact the sport press officer here.

BMX Freestyle Debuts:In 2019, U.S. athletes won two medals at the UCI BMX Freestyle World Championships, including the women’s world championship title with Hannah Roberts claiming the crown, and with Nick Bruce taking the bronze in the men’s competition. As a nation, the U.S. is currently ranked first on the women’s side and individually, Roberts is sitting first in the world. On the men’s side, they are ranked second as a nation, with Justin Dowell in second and Bruce just behind in third. In the discipline’s first Olympic Games, the U.S. looks to continue its international success. 

Mountain Biker Courtney: 2018 world champion Kate Courtney has proven herself unstoppable in the 2019 season, winning three out of four world cups in the first half of the season, ultimately claiming the UCI Mountain Bike Overall World Cup title in October of 2019. She placed fifth at the world championships in Mont-Sainte-Anne, Quebec, qualifying her for her first Olympic Games.

Women’s Team Pursuit Returns: Having earned a silver medal at the Olympic Games Rio 2016, the women’s team pursuit squad is currently building depth to bring the moment to Tokyo 2020. The team is looking to earn the top step this year with returning members Chloe Dygert, individual pursuit world record holder, and Jennifer Valente. Since Rio 2016, the pursuit team has been rebuilt after the retirement of Sarah Hammer and tragic passing of Kelly Catlin. The new team of Dygert, Valente, Emma White, and Lily Williams recently won the 2020 Team Pursuit World Championships.

Last Shot for Olympic Dreams?: For nearly all the riders who will likely qualify for Team USA in BMX racing, this will likely be their last shot. By 2024, they'll all be in the early- to mid-30s, which is often considered "too old" in BMX terms. Should they qualify for Tokyo, 2016 Olympic medalists Alise Willoughby would be 29 and Connor Fields would be 27.

Kate Courtney (Kentfield, California)
The 2018 mountain bike world champion, Courtney has already qualified for Tokyo 2020 with her 5th place at the 2019 world championships.

Chloe Dygert (Brownsburg, Indiana)
The individual pursuit world record holder, Dygert is looking to compete across disciplines in both team pursuit, individual time trial and the road race at Tokyo 2020.

Connor Fields (Las Vegas, Nevada)
After winning gold at Rio 2016, a first for U.S. men in Olympic BMX racing, Fields landed atop the podium at the 2017 USA BMX Grands as the No. 1 pro.  Fields is chasing a historical repeat gold medal at the age of 27. With the win, Connor would match Latvia’s Maris Stromberg back-to-back gold medals in the 2008 and 2012 Olympic Games. 

Alise Willoughby (St. Cloud, Minnesota)
BMX racer Willoughby (Post) has been absolutely dominant in the sport and hopes to prove her skill once again at the Tokyo Games. Tokyo would be her third Olympic Games after her silver medal in Rio. Competitively, Willoughby won a record-shattering 12th No. 1 title in USA BMX (with a shot at her 13th this November) – the most ever won in the sport by any athlete, male or female. Since 2016, she has been trained by her husband, Austrian Olympic medalist Sam Willoughby, who retired from the sport after acquiring a spinal cord injury during training.

Hannah Roberts (Buchanan, Michigan)
The 2017 and 2019 world champion in BMX Freestyle, Roberts is ranked No. 1 in the world along with the United States ranked first as a nation. Roberts is going into BMX Freestyle’s Olympic debut as a favorite.

Jennifer Valente (San Diego, California)
Five-time world champion and 2016 Olympic silver medalist Valente hopes to return to the Olympic stage on the track in 2020. She will compete in the omnium, the madison, and join 2016 Olympic teammate Chloe Dygert for the team pursuit. At the Tokyo Games, Jennifer Valente may become the first U.S. cycling athlete to win three medals at a single Olympic Games and tie Sarah Hammer as the all-time female U.S. Olympic medal leader.

BMX Freestyle: Nine spots per gender are available, with one going to Japan as the host nation. Six of these quotas are earned through UCI nation rankings, and two can be earned at the UCI Urban Cycling World Championships. Due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the delay of the Tokyo Games, these dates are still being determined and will be announced. The maximum quota of athletes for the BMX freestyle discipline is two athletes per gender.

BMX Racing: Twenty-four spots per gender are available, with one going to Japan as the host nation. Eighteen of these quotas are earned through UCI nation rankings. Two can be earned at the UCI BMX World Championships and three additional are available through the UCI individual rankings. Due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the delay of the Tokyo Games, these dates are still being determined and will be announced. The maximum quota of athletes for the BMX freestyle discipline is two athletes per gender.

Mountain Biking: Thirty-eight sports per gender are available, with one going to Japan as the host nation. Thirty of these quotas are earned through the UCI nation rankings. Three places can be earned at the continental championships (one for Africa, one for Asia and one for the Americas) and four can be earned at the UCI Mountain Bike World Championships. The maximum quota of athletes for mountain bike is three athletes per gender.

Road Cycling: The UCI nation rankings are used to attribute the majority of the Olympic spots in road cycling (122 for men, 62 for women). The maximum Olympic team size for road cycling (including time trial athletes) is up to five men and four women. No quota place allocation is made specifically to the individual time trial event; only nations who have received quota places in the road race event can be allocated entry spots for the individual time trial, in which a maximum of two athletes per nation will be allowed to take part.

Track Cycling: The total number of athletes per National Olympic Committee at the 2020 Games for track cycling could potentially reach 17, with a maximum of nine men and eight women. Quotas are earned through UCI nation rankings.

BMX Freestyle: The maximum quota of athletes for the BMX Freestyle discipline is two athletes per gender. Quota slots will be initially filled in order of their ranking in the USA Cycling Olympic BMX Freestyle Rankings as of May 1, 2021. Points toward an athlete's USA Cycling Olympic Freestyle Ranking will be awarded for their best five (5) finishes in UCI Freestyle World Cup events plus the 2019 and 2020 world championships between January 1, 2019 and May 1, 2021. USA Cycling’s athlete selection procedures for BMX freestyle are available here.

BMX Racing: he maximum quota of athletes for the BMX Racing discipline is three athletes per gender. Quota slots will be filled per gender by athletes in order of their ranking in the USA Cycling Olympic BMX Racing Rankings as of May 1, 2021. Points toward an athlete's USA Cycling Olympic BMX Supercross Ranking will be awarded for their best ten (10) finishes in UCI BMX Supercross World Cup events plus 2019, 2020 and 2021 world championship events between January 1, 2019 and May 1, 2021. USA Cycling’s athlete selection procedures are available here.

Mountain Biking: The maximum quota of athletes for mountain bike is three athletes per gender. The UCI Elite World Cup and World Championships will serve as qualification events. Due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the delay of the Tokyo Games, these dates are still being determined and will be announced. If the quota slots remain after the automatic criteria has been executed, an athlete may be selected through discretionary selection. 

USA Cycling’s athlete selection procedures are available here.

Road Cycling: The maximum Olympic team size for road cycling (including time trial athletes) is up to five men and four women. The 2019 and 2020 UCI Road World Championships, the 2019, 2020, and 2021 UCI World Tour Single Day Events, the 2019 and 2020 USA Cycling National Championship will be used as part of the selection process. Due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the delay of the Tokyo Games, these dates are still being determined and will be announced. USA Cycling’s athlete selection procedures are availablehere.

Track Cycling: The maximum Olympic team size for track cycling is up to nine men and eight women. The UCI World Track Championships and the UCI Track World Cup Events that take place prior to May 1,2021 will be used as part of the selection process. Due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the delay of the Tokyo Games, these dates are still being determined and will be announced.
USA Cycling’s athlete selection procedures are available 
here.


Due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the delay of the Tokyo Games, these dates are still being determined and will be announced. When more information becomes available, you can find it on the USA Cycling website hereor on the International Cycling Union (UCI) website here. Events can be found under the specific disciplines.