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A look at the school, the races and the future of this unique 'sport'
See how nearly every bicycle saddle is made
Ever wonder how FSA does it? Take a walk through the factory and find out
Classic Colnago steel frame with gorgeous pantographed Campagnolo components
Catharine Pendrel (Luna Pro Team) leads the women's field up the first big climb
Updated: One more World Cup to go
The UCI has published updated standings for nation rankings to include last weekend's World Cup in Nove Mesto na Morave, Czech Republic. While the official qualification period does not end until after this weekend's World Cup in La Bresse, France, the nation rankings are unlikely to change in any meaningful way - meaning how many Olympic spots each nation receives. Note that none of the following is official until the UCI and IOC publish the "official" standings in a few weeks.
The ranking is based on a combination of the combined points for the top-three riders of each nation for the periods May 23, 2010 to May 22, 2011 PLUS for the period May 23, 2011 to May 22, 2012. The UCI has just published updated rankings as of May 15, 2012 for the current qualifying period.
For the women, the top eight nations get two spots, and 9 through 18 get one spot. For the men, the top five get three spots each, 9 to 13 ranked get two spots and 14 to 24 each get one spot. Of course, this does not include positions that are qualified through winning Continental Championships (more on that below).
The table below provides the full breakdown. Canada is ranked number one in women, and is 280 points ahead of second place Switzerland, so it is not going to lose any positions, no matter what the outcome of the races this weekend. The United States will also be sending two athletes, despite the loss of points-getting machine Willow Rockwell after she retired, because all of her points from 2010-2011 still count. Similarly, the last of the top-eight - Norway - has 358 points on Russia, so it is safe. In the last qualifying spot is Denmark, with a comfortable buffer of 118 points over 19th place Hungary.
Now, as mentioned above, this does not include Continental Championship results, which shuffle things a bit. For example, New Zealand won the Oceania Championship, but they already have qualified through nation rankings, so that spot goes to the next nation in the Continental Championships, which was Australia (which didn't qualify anyone through nations ranking).
On the men's side it is similar, with the top-five - led by powerhouse Switzerland - all getting three spots on the start line. Fifth place Germany has over 1000 points on sixth ranked Italy, so it are all safe. Six through 13 in the rankings get two spots, and that includes both the United States (8th) and Canada (11th). Belgium is the final nation to get two spots, and 14th place Olympic host Great Britain is 443 points in arrears to them, so the Brits won't be making that up. In the final one spot group, Cyprus gets the last opening under nation ranking, and it is 118 points ahead of Portugal, so it is also pretty safe.
As with the women, the Continental Championships will add some missing nations, such as New Zealand, which didn't qualify through nation ranking, but were the second nation in the Oceania Championships, behind already qualified Australia. In the Americas, Todd Wells won, but the United States is already qualified, so it goes to Argentina, who had a rider finish second at the Pan Am Championships (and is not qualified through nation ranking.
Clear? Well, it still isn't done, because some nations may turn down some of their spots, for example, if it receives two spots and only one rider meets its national criteria. In that case, the UCI/IOC will re-allocate any such spots to nations next on the list, under a complicated formula.
Update with correction
Andrea Bianco, the Colombian team manager, pointed out a mistake in the analysis of the Continental Championship spots awarded for the Olympic mountain bike races after the initial posting of this article. The results of the 2012 Championships were used; however, the criteria actually uses the results of the previous year (ie, 2011) to determine which countries get those spots.
For the Oceania Continental Championships, it actually makes no difference - Australia won the men's but New Zealand gets the spot since Australia qualified through nation rankings, and the reverse for the women.
However, as Bianco pointed out, it is different in the Americas standings. In 2011, Colombia won both the men's and women's Continental Championships. Colombia will take the women's spot for the Olympics, since it didn't qualify through nations ranking.
Bianco explained the men's situation concisely. "The second place for the Olympics available in the men's race went to Argentina because Canada and USA qualified by nation ranking. But now it gets interesting... Argentina is qualifying even by nation's ranking (22nd) and [its] Pan-American place is going to Brazil. Brazil also is qualifying by nation ranking as well (19th) , so the Pan-American second place is going to Costa Rica. Paolo Montoya of Costa Rica is waiting and hoping that Argentina remains among the 24 nations in the Olympic ranking."
Both Argentina and Brazil are pretty comfortably placed in the nation rankings, so it would appear that Costa Rica is going to get that spot.
Thanks to Bianco for noticing and correcting this error.
|#||Nation||Points & # of Spots|
|1||Canada||7661 pts||2 spots|
|#||Nation||Points & # of spots|
|1||Switzerland||9838 pts||3 spots|
|14||Great Britain||2780||1 spot|
|42||Hong Kong, China||680||0|