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Seeking to Understand USA Cycling’s Olympic Selection Process

The U.S. Olympic cycling team for the Tokyo Olympics has just been announced by USA Cycling. Chloé Dygert, Ruth Winder, Leah Thomas, Amber Neben, and Coryn Rivera have been selected for the women’s road events, while Lawson Craddock and Brandon McNulty will ride the men’s road race and time trial. Dygert was the only automatic qualifier under the guidelines; the rest were discretionary choices. Not unexpectedly, Olympic selections often lead to personal heartbreak and sadness due to the nature of the process itself. Questions are already arising as to whether this team will provide the best chance of capturing elusive Olympic medals — assuming the Games go ahead at all. And, as one vocal member of the Twitterati has pointed out, there will always be Monday morning quarterbacks commenting from the sidelines. Although USAC does have a specific set of selection criteria from which the...

USA Cycling’s New Let’s Ride Program

USA Cycling’s new Let’s Ride program is a nationwide bicycle safety and basic bike skills education curriculum, meant to be taught to elementary school children through a series of camps, and afterschool programs across the country. Headed up by former Olympic and women’s world time trial champion Mari Holden, the program is geared toward developing a more diverse and inclusive base of young riders and hopes to reach 20,000 new kids this year. The program will teach kids, aged 7 to 11, basic bicycle skills and safety and promote the development of a healthy and active lifestyle at an early age. Let’s Ride plans to partner with organizations that already offer key infrastructure and bike parks, and existing developmental non-profit and faith-based groups who work with under-served populations. The campaign is also targeting various high-visibility and high-registration 2021 cycling...

‘Retrospectives’ Podcast Episode 7 — Catching up With Christian Vande Velde

Christian Vande Velde has led a storied career in the sport of cycling. From race analyst on NBC to top-five finisher in the Tour de France, “CVV” as he is often called, has become one of America’s most recognized cycling personalities. Vande Velde has been a well-known surname in American cycling since at least 1968, when John won the first of his several national championships on the track, and competed at the 1968 and 1972 Olympic Games. John’s son Christian burst onto the scene in the 1998 Vuelta a España, where he helped U.S. Postal teammate Lance Armstrong garner a fourth-place finish, and later supported his victories in the Tour de France in 1999 and 2001. After developing into a strong all-around rider, Christian excelled from 2006 to 2012, a period that saw him finish 4th overall in the Tour de France and podium in every major American stage race, winning the 2012 USA Pro...

Evolving Strategies for Cyclists on Mitigating and Recovering From COVID-19

Colombian sprinter Fernando Gaviria became the first professional cyclist to contract coronavirus in March 2020. Despite some claims at the time, one year later we now know that COVID-19 turned out to be much worse than the flu. Professional bicycle racing was disrupted on a scale unseen since World War II as the pandemic swept unchecked across the globe. Domestic mass participation events were eliminated, and even casual group rides were considered potential health risks. Despite initial pessimism, professional cycling managed to salvage an abbreviated European racing season which included all three grand tours, thanks to effective risk mitigation strategies: regular PCR tests, mask-wearing, and physical distancing. COVID-19 presented an ever-shifting landscape with many hurdles along the way. The riders in Tour de France and the Vuelta a España were mostly unaffected by COVID-19, but...

Rethinking the Polka Dot Jersey

Cycling fans are used to seeing spectacular performances in the high mountains – by both overall race contenders and breakaway privateer climbers. Whenever the road tilts upwards, the climbing specialists – the “mountain goats” – move to the front, hunting for valuable points that could lead to the prestigious “King of the Mountains” title (KOM, or QOM in women’s racing) – that comes with personal accolades and valuable sponsor publicity. The red polka dot jersey that signifies the King of the Mountains in the Tour de France has often been a pivotal subtext to the overall race, especially when talented climbers who are also legitimate overall contenders fight for the jersey in the high mountains. Prior to the mid-1990s, the mountain points competition was generally won or contested by the top overall contenders – who picked up points by scalping peaks while hunting for the yellow...