Athlete Event Selections

Learn about the athlete selection process and review selection documents

Skip to a Discipline

Athlete Selection Process Overview

USA Cycling is responsible for selecting athletes to participate in all Protected Competitions. A Protected Competition is defined in the USOPC Bylaws. Examples of Protected Competitions include Olympic Games, World Championships, Pan Am Games, and Continental Championships. 

Methods of Athlete Selection

Athletes can qualify for Protected Competitions by either automatic selection or discretionary selection. Automatic selection is how an athlete qualifies for Protected Competitions based on results specified in the Athlete Selection Procedures (ASP) for a particular Protected Competition.

The automatic selection criteria are prioritized in the ASP for a Protected Competition. More athletes may meet automatic selection criteria than available quota spots for a Protected Competition. In that case, USA Cycling will follow the relevant ASP to select the athlete(s).

If available quota spots remain after applying the automatic selection criteria, USA Cycling may use discretionary selection to nominate athletes. There are two means of being considered for discretionary selection. An athlete may submit a discretionary petition, or USA Cycling’s Sport Performance staff may nominate an athlete.

USA Cycling’s Sport Performance staff compiles the athlete petitions and nominations and following the Discretionary Selection Procedures (DSP), nominates a final team for approval by the USA Cycling Selection Committee.

Discretionary Selection Procedures

USA Cycling is responsible for selecting athletes to participate in all Protected Competitions. Athletes can qualify for Protected Competition by meeting automatic criteria or, where quota spots remain after application of automatic criteria, through discretionary selection criteria. 

Discretionary Selection Criteria

The following criteria are considered in priority order A-D when making discretionary selections for Protected Competitions. Criterion B is only considered for team-based events. Time periods listed below look back from the deadline date for athlete discretionary petitions.

A. Medal Capable Athletes – A medal capable athlete has clearly demonstrated the ability to produce a medal winning result in the competition for which the athlete is being selected by achieving one of the following criteria:

  • Winning a medal (top 3 finish) in the past 24 months at the World Championships or Olympic Games and demonstrating the continuing ability to perform at that level or higher based on results and performances in Top Level Competition* in the past 12 months; or,
  • Beating the previous year’s World Championship or Olympic medalists or the current top-ranked UCI Elite athletes in Top Level Competition on courses similar to the event that the athlete is being selected for on multiple occasions in the past 12 months.

* A Top Level Competition is one that includes participation by many of the best riders in the world (e.g., as indicated by recent World Championship results, World Cup results and/or current UCI rankings).

B. Athletes Who Maximize Team Performance – For Road Race, Team Pursuit, Team Sprint, and Madison it is necessary to select the best team and not necessarily the best individual athlete(s). Team chemistry and the ability of an athlete to fulfill a specific role on the team are vital for success. For example, the Road Race event is scored individually but requires a team of athletes to work together and execute a team strategy so the designated leader(s) can achieve the best result possible. Meanwhile, Team Pursuit, Team Sprint and the Madison on the track are scored as a team, and rely on the careful assembly of a team that will work together to achieve the best result possible. 

Subjective judgment is required to select the athletes who will work together as an effective team and contribute to the execution of USA Cycling’s strategy for team success or a team leader’s success. Where reasonable, USA Cycling will use objective measures to support subjective judgments under this criterion.

C. Future Medal Capable Athletes – An athlete who is future medal capable has the potential to produce a medal-winning result within three years at a World Championship or Olympic Games by demonstrating a recent trend of improving performance in Top Level Competition or training.

D. Furtherance of USA Cycling’s High Performance Plan Goals - If quota positions remain after the application of the criteria above, athletes may be selected to support the event strategy and/or goal(s) outlined in the relevant ASP.

    Data to Support Discretionary Selection Criteria

    USA Cycling considers data useful when making discretionary selections. An athlete’s discretionary selection petition must be accompanied by credible data relevant to the Protected Competition to which the athlete is seeking nomination. Below are examples of relevant data. This list is neither exclusive nor mandatory.

    • For all criteria (in no particular order):
      • Times on courses (or portions of courses) of similar length or course profile and/or in similar environmental conditions to the Protected Competition being selected for;
      • Athlete power data;
      • Aerodynamic drag data;
      • Event and specific role demand data.
    • For Athletes Who Maximize Team Performance selections (in no particular order):
      • Demonstrated willingness to work selflessly for team objectives;
      • Demonstrated tactical proficiency;
      • Previous experience fulfilling similar roles;
      • Evidence of ability to meet the physical requirements of the Protected Competition being selected for;
      • Coachability;
      • Ability to enhance team chemistry.
    • For choosing between two or more athletes under the same criterion (other than Medal Capable) (in no particular order):
      • Race results in Top Level Competitions;
      • Head-to-head competition results;
      • Sport Performance staff’s assessment of an athlete’s ability to meet the performance demands of the course and Protected Competition;
      • Sport Performance staff’s assessment of an athlete’s ability to meet the performance demands required to execute USA Cycling’s strategy or race plan.

    Athlete Ombuds

    Team USA athletes may contact the Office of the Athlete Ombuds for independent and confidential advice on a variety of sport related matters, including their rights, applicable rules, policies or processes, and questions related to resolving disputes and grievances. The Athlete Ombuds can also help Team USA athletes connect with legal counsel or mental health resources if needed. All other NGB athletes (i.e., athletes competing domestically at the masters or youth level, recreational athletes, foreign athletes) are welcome to visit the Athlete Ombuds website to review informational resources and should work directly with their NGB to understand additional resources and options available to them.

    Phone: 719-866-5000



    Athlete Ombuds Confidentiality and Privacy Policy

    (A)In general.—The Office of the Athlete Ombuds shall maintain as confidential any information communicated or provided to the Office of the Athlete Ombuds in confidence in any matter involving the exercise of the official duties of the Office of the Athlete Ombuds. (B) Exception.—The Office of the Athlete Ombuds may disclose information described in subparagraph (A) as necessary to resolve or mediate a dispute, with the permission of the parties involved. (C) Judicial and administrative proceedings.—(i) In general.—The ombudsman and the staff of the Office of the Athlete Ombuds shall not be compelled to testify or produce evidence in any judicial or administrative proceeding with respect to any matter involving the exercise of the duties of the Office of the Athlete Ombuds . (ii) Work product.—Any memorandum, work product, notes, or case file of the Office of the Athlete Ombuds—(I) shall be confidential; and(II) shall not be—(aa) subject to discovery, subpoena, or any other means of legal compulsion; or (bb) admissible as evidence in a judicial or administrative proceeding. (D) Applicability.—The confidentiality requirements under this paragraph shall not apply to information relating to—(i) applicable federally mandated reporting requirements; (ii) a felony personally witnessed by a member of the Office of the Athlete Ombuds;(iii) a situation, communicated to the Office of the Athlete Ombuds, in which an individual is at imminent risk of serious harm; or (iv) a congressional subpoena.

    Anti-Retaliation Statement

    No employee, contractor, agent, volunteer, or member of the NGB or USOPC shall take or threaten action against an athlete as a reprisal for disclosing information to or seeking assistance from the Office of the Athlete Ombuds.

    Athlete Pledge

    USA Cycling National Team Members must uphold the spirit of the Code of Conduct outlined in the Athlete Pledge & Agreement.

    Choose Your Discipline

    Want to know more about your specific program? Click on each photo to learn more about each discipline's events and the corresponding selection documents.