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 Post (now Willoughby) 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 sho3rter 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.

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. 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 place fifth at the world championships in Mont-Sainte-Anne, Quebec. This would be Courtney’s first Olympic Games, as the 24-year-old was too young to compete in 2016.

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 individual pursuit world record holder Chloe Dygert vying for a spot on the team alongside fellow Rio 2016 teammate Jennifer Valente and a pool of promising riders.

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 hopes to continue the momentum to qualify for Tokyo 2020.

Chloe Dygert (Brownsburg, Indiana)
The individual pursuit world record holder, Dygert-Owen 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 (née Post) has been absolutely dominant in the sport and hopes to prove her skill once again at Tokyo 2020 (which would mark her third Olympic Games, and first as a Willoughby). Since Willoughby took silver in Rio, her finance, Australian world champion Sam Willoughby, has served as her coach. Competitively, Willoughby won a record-shattering 11th No. 1 title in USA BMX (with a shot at her 12th this November) – the most ever won in the sport by any athlete, male or female. Now trained by her husband, who retired from the sport after acquiring a spinal cord injury during training, Willoughby is aiming for an Olympic gold medal.

Hannah Roberts (Buchanan, Michigan)
The 2017 world champion in BMX Freestyle, Roberts ranks as the world No. 1, one year out from Tokyo 2020.

Jennifer Valente (San Diego, California)
2016 Olympian and silver medalist Valente hopes to return to the Olympic stage in 2020, competing in omnium and joining up once again with 2016 teammate Dygert-Owen for the team pursuit.

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 2019 UCI Urban Cycling World Championships. 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 2019 UCI BMX World Championships and three additional are available through the UCI individual rankings. The maximum quota of athletes for the BMX Racing discipline is three 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 2019 UCI Mountain Bike World Championships. The maximum quota of athletes for mountain bike is three athletes per gender.

Points towards athletes’ rankings will be awarded based on their best ten finishes in the finals (top eight) at UCI BMX Racing World Cup events plus 2019 and 2020 world championship events with a maximum of twelve scores counting between January 1, 2019, and June 2, 2020.

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 12, 2020. Points towards an athlete’s rankings will be awarded for their best four finishes in UCI Freestyle World Cup events plus the 2019 World Championships between January 1, 2019 and May 12, 2020.  Athletes must finish in the top eight in these events to earn Olympic BMX Freestyle Ranking points. USA Cycling’s athlete selection procedures for BMX freestyle are available here.

BMX Racing: The 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 June 2, 2020. USA Cycling’s athlete selection procedures are available here.

Mountain Biking: The maximum quota of athletes for mountain bike is three athletes per gender., If the quota slots remain after the automatic criteria has been executed, an athlete may be selected through discretionary selection.

The quota slot will be filled by an athlete selected for the event tiered in the following order:
1. Victory at the 2020 UCI World Cup opener in Nove Mesto (May 24, 2020)
2. Victory at the 2019 UCI world championships in Mont-Sainte-Anne (September 10, 2019)
3. 2nd-8th place at Nove Mesto (one rider per gender)
4. 2nd-8th place at Mont-Sainte-Anne (one rider per gender)
5. Top-10 overall in the final 2019 World Cup rankings

If slots are still open after the automatic qualification criteria, there is a discretionary selection process that is outlined in the criteria document. USA Cycling’s athlete selection procedures are available here.

Road Cycling: Athletes will be nominated to the Long Team who meet any of the following criteria:
1. Any athletes placing in the top five per gender of the 2019 UCI Elite Road Race or Individual Time Trial World Championships will be nominated to the 2020 Long Team.
2. The top ten American athletes ranked in the top 100 per gender of the UCI Individual Rankings as of May 1, 2020 will be nominated to the 2020 Long Team.
3. Any athletes who win a European UCI World Tour one-day event between April 1, 2019 and May 1, 2020 will be nominated to the 2020 Long Team.
4. The winner of the 2019 US Pro Individual Time Trial National Championships per gender, provided that race is held in its entirety and run under UCI regulations will be nominated to the 2020 Long Team.
5. 5. The winner of the 2019 U.S. Pro Road Race National Championships per gender, provided that race is held in its entirety and run under UCI regulations will be nominated to the 2020 Long Team.
6. Additional athletes may be nominated to the Long Team by the USA Cycling National Team Coaching Staff at any time prior to the nomination of the Final Team if the Selection Committee deems a fourth athlete to be medal capable or able to maximize a team’s performance.
USA Cycling’s athlete selection procedures for men’s and women’s road cycling for Tokyo 2020 are available here.

Track Cycling: For team pursuit, madison and team sprint, the first step for nomination to the 2020 Olympic Games Team is selection to the Long Team. The second step for nomination to the 2020 Olympic Games team for team pursuit, madison and team sprint is selection to the Final Team for each event by discretionary selection.

For omnium, the primary path to nomination to the 2020 Olympic Games Team is automatic qualification. Per gender, if no athlete qualifies automatically, then the first step for nomination to the 2020 Olympic Games Team is selection to the Long Team as described below. The second step for nomination to the 2020 Olympic Games Team for omnium is selection to the Final Team by discretionary selection.

For individual sprint and keirin, the primary path to nomination is through nomination to the team sprint (per gender). If USA Cycling does not qualify team sprint quota places but does qualify a quota in either individual sprint or keirin, the first step for nomination to the individual sprint or keirin is through automatic qualification. Per gender, if no athlete qualifies automatically, then the first step for nomination to the 2020 Olympic Games Team is selection to the Long Team. The second step for nomination to the 2020 Olympic Games Team for individual sprint or keirin is selection to the Final Team by discretionary selection. If an athlete is selected to the individual sprint or keirin, they will also be nominated to ride the other event as well.

USA Cycling’s athlete selection procedures for men’s and women’s track cycling for Tokyo 2020 are available here.

BMX Freestyle:
• Jan. 1, 2019- May 12, 2020: UCI world cup events 
• Nov. 6-Nov. 10, 2019: 2019 UCI Urban Cycling World Championships

BMX Racing: 
• Aug. 30-Sept 1, 2019: Derby City Nationals in Louisville, Ky.
• Oct. 18-20, 2019: Sunshine State Nationals in Sarasota, Fla.
• Oct. 25-27, 2019: Lone Star Nationals in Houston, Texas
• July 23-27, 2019: 2019 UCI BMX World Championships
• Nov. 28-Dec. 1, 2019: Grand National in Tulsa, Okla.
• May 26-31, 2020: UCI BMX World Championships 

Mountain Biking:
• Aug. 28-Sept. 1, 2019: 2019 UCI Mountain Bike World Championships in Mont St. Anne, Quebec
• May 24, 2020: 2020 UCI Elite Cross-Country World Cup in Nove Mesto, Czech Republic

Road Cycling: 
• June 27-30, 2019: USA Cycling Professional Road and Individual Time Trial National Championships in Knoxville, Tenn.
• Sept. 24-29, 2019: 2019 UCI Road World Championships Yorkshire, England 
• 2020 – 2020 European or North American UCI World Tour Single Day Events

Track Cycling:
• Nov. 1, 2019-Jan. 26, 2020: UCI Track Cycling World Cup races. 
• These world cups will potentially qualify athletes for the Long Team.
• Feb. 26-March 1, 2020: 2020 UCI World Track Championships in Berlin, Germany. 
• These World Championships will be used for potential automatic qualification to the Olympic Team in individual events. Athlete performances in team events and non-automatically qualified individual events will strongly influence discretionary selections for the 2020 Olympic Team.