USA Cycling announced Friday that six of the seven 2006 National Mountain Bike Series events have been included on the UCI Calendar and USA Cycling will provide prize money for the UCI-sanctioned events.
The National Mountain Bike Series events in Fontana, Calif., May 5-7 and Banner Elk, N.C., June 10-11 have been granted Category 2 status from the UCI, while incumbent races in West Dover, Vt., June 17-18, Park City, Utah, July 8-9, Brian Head, Utah, August 5-6 and Snowmass Village, Colo., August 12-13 have received Category 1 status from the international governing body.
The events in Fontana and Banner Elk cannot obtain Category 1 designation as first-year events.
As a requirement for UCI sanctioning, USA Cycling has contributed more than $33,000 in prize money and inscription fees towards the national series - an important element in determining the number of start positions the U.S. will receive at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing.
The six National Mountain Bike Series events, plus the USA Cycling Mountain Bike National Championships in Mammoth Lakes, Calif. July 20-23, will provide U.S. athletes the opportunity to accumulate points that factor into a nation's overall ranking.
Points earned between Jan. 1, 2006 and Dec. 31, 2007 will count towards a nation's ranking and factor into the number of start positions a country receives at the 2008 Olympic Games.
The prize money contributed by USA Cycling for the national series events will be specific to men's and women's cross country races because they are only recognized mountain bike disciplines at the Olympic Games.
"The presence of UCI points for cross country athletes at seven events in the United States this year provides American athletes the much-desired opportunity to accumulate valuable points on their home turf," commented USA Cycling chief executive officer Gerard Bisceglia. "Although the prize money is one of the basic requirements of UCI inscription, it certainly adds to the prestige of events on the national series calendar."
In addition to securing more UCI-sanctioned events in the United States, USA Cycling will also announce plans next week for supporting its top professional riders to attend World Cup events in 2006 and 2007 in an effort to secure maximum start positions for the Beijing Games and further prepare athletes for world-class competition.
"The road to Beijing begins now," Bisceglia said. "These programs are extremely vital to maximum participation and success in 2008."
2006 National Mountain Bike Series Schedule
NMBS#1 May 5-7: Southridge Park - Fontana, Calif. (UCI C2)
NMBS#2 June 10-11: Sugar Mountain Resort - Banner Elk, N.C. (UCI C2)
NMBS#3 June 17-18: Mount Snow Resort - West Dover, Vt. (UCI C1)
NMBS#4 July 8-9: Deer Valley Resort - Park City, Utah (UCI C1)
NMBS#5 July 15-16: Infineon Raceway - Sonoma, Calif.
NMBS#6 Aug. 5-6: Brian Head Resort - Brian Head, Utah (UCI C1)
NMBS#7 Aug. 12-13: Snowmass Resort - Aspen, Colo. (UCI C1)