In 2008, Adam Craig, Todd Wells, Georgia Gould and Mary McConneloug rode in red, white and blue. The cast of characters for 2012 may include some of these familiar faces, but the battle to qualify for the team has barely begun.
On June 15, 2012, USAC will nominate a maximum of two women and three men to represent the US in London for cross country. The few athletes will be chosen based on their international results during the Olympic team qualification period. Selection for the final Olympic team is based on a number of qualifiers.
“There are two schools of thought,” Georgia Gould told Singletrack.com, in reference to the discretionary aspect of Olympic qualification. “Some of us feel that those who have put in the hard work and been fighting and getting results for a long time should take precedence in selection, and not always the one who is just the fastest.”
A top-five finish in the world championships is the quickest way to earn a place on the team. This September, the best results at the worlds in Champery, Switzerland, came from Wells, who came in seventh, and Jeremy Horgan-Kobelsky, who placed 12th. In the women’s race, Lea Davidson and Heather Irmiger came in side by side in 10th and 11th, followed by McConneloug in 15th and Gould in 20th.
Since no Americans placed in the top five in the world championships this September, the second best way to become an Olympian is to win a cross-country World Cup event between January 1 and May 22, 2012. Should excessive numbers of Americans fill that role, World Cup ranking will separate the Olympians from, well, everybody else.
A top-five finish during that same time frame could also lead to a nomination. Again, World Cup ranking will determine the final selection if multiple riders meet the above criteria.
Qualification for the team allows athletes no room for sitting on their laurels, however, and those who fail to maintain their form may be replaced.
There remain a few options for turning heads if the above qualifiers have failed to fill the team. If the US has riders in the top 15 of the World Cup as of May 31, 2012, the top ranked American could be chosen.
Should Americans meet none of the above criteria, USA Cycling may judge the most eligible Americans based on a rider’s likelihood of winning a medal in this or future games, or based on outstanding international competition in recent history.
The women are scheduled to race at Hadleigh Farm in Essex on August 11, 2012, followed by the men the following day at the same venue.