The selection criteria for the US Olympic mountain bike "Long Team," recently announced by USA Cycling, is all about earning UCI points in 2007. Points will be available at major mountain bike races such as those hosted as part of the National Mountain Bike Series (NMBS) and individual races like the Greenbriar Challenge near Hagerstown and Frederick, Maryland. A maximum of eight men and eight women will be named to the "Long Team" based on their UCI rankings at the end of the 2007 season.
"The criteria clearly states that only 2007 results count toward the selection of the 'Long Team' from which the final Olympic Team will selected," said Greenbriar Challenge Race Director Jim Carlson. "Our assumption all along had been that points scored during both 2006 and 2007 would be used." The rankings of the nations will ultimately determine how many starting slots each country will have.
Greenbriar race announcer Ken Getchell commented on the ramifications of the selection criteria. "You can throw away last year's points, because they mean nothing as far as who's going to be on the US team. Right now, every elite mountain biker in America has a shot at the dream." Then, encouraging elite racers to attend the Greenbriar Challenge, organizers announced that not only has race registration begun, but reminded entrants that UCI Elite Women and UCI Elite Men categories must pre-register.
From the long team, up to a maximum of three men and two women will make the final Olympic team. Performances at the 2008 mountain bike worlds, 2008 world cup races through June 23, 2008, and coaches' discretion will determine final team spots.
Fans of American elite mountain bike racing will remember the epic battle for Olympic Team slots for the 2004 Games in Athens. The story was documented in the film Off Road to Athens.