USA Cycling announced it has allocated more than $50,000 for the 2006 Elite Mountain Bike Performance Stipend programme, which aims to provide off-road athletes with incentives and support to compete at international mountain bike events.
With 2006 marking the beginning of the two-year Olympic qualification period in which countries accumulate points to decide how many start spots a country receives at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, USA Cycling created the stipend programme as one of several efforts to help America's international ranking. The programme is specific to elite men's and women's cross country disciplines and begins with the first UCI World Cup event on April 1 in Curacao.
Following each World Cup event, USA Cycling will pay cash incentives to men and women finishing in the top four in the following day's UCI rankings. To be considered for the cash incentives, athletes must participate in the applicable world cup events. If an athlete fails to compete in a world cup but is still ranked as one of the top-four American riders in the following edition of the UCI rankings, no stipend will be provided. Additionally, riders must be ranked in the top 60 overall for men and top 40 overall for women to be eligible for the funding.
"The benefit of this programme is really twofold," said Gerard Bisceglia, CEO of USA Cycling. "By providing funding for athletes to compete internationally, we're creating a platform that supports more participation in World Cups and other internationally-sanctioned events."
USA Cycling 2006 Mountain Bike Performance Stipend Programme qualifying events:
April 1-2: UCI World Cup #1 Curacao
May 13-14: UCI World Cup #2 Madrid, Spain
May 20-21: UCI World Cup #3 Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium
May 27-28: UCI World Cup #4 Fort William, Scotland
June 24-25: UCI World Cup #5 Mt. Sainte Anne, Quebec
September 9-10: UCI World Cup #6 Schladming, Austria