Welcome to The Dirt, the weekly news round-up on what is happening in the worlds of gravel, mountain biking, and all things rough and dirty.

The chase is on for valuable UCI points to secure start spots in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics XC mountain bike race, and a strong showing at the Pan American Championships has buoyed the hopes of Team USA’s women.

World champion Kate Courtney (Scott-SRAM) won the Pan Am Championships Saturday in Aguascalientes, Mexico. Fellow American Erin Huck (CZ Racing) was second, 1:16 behind, and Chloe Woodruff (Pivot-Stan’s) finished fifth. Plus, Haley Batten (Clif) won the under-23 women’s event.

With these results, the U.S. women moved up to second place behind Switzerland in the UCI nations rankings, ahead of Canada. At the end of May 2019, the rankings will determine how many riders a given country can start in Tokyo. The top two nations can start three riders. Nations ranked third through seventh will have two start spots.

Kate Courtney won the elite women’s Pan American Championships in Aguascalientes, Mexico. Photo courtesy Scott-SRAM

Team USA also finished second in the team relay event at Pan Am Championships on April 3, which adds to the points total.

In the men’s races, Keegan Swenson (Pivot-Stan’s) was fourth in the elite cross-country championships, 1:17 behind winner Raphael Gagne of Canada. Christopher Blevins (Specialized) won the under-23 race.

Although Team USA’s men’s contingent moved up to 10th in the nation rankings after the championships in Mexico, it will be very difficult for them to crack the top seven to earn two start spots in Tokyo. It is likely the team will only have one start spot for the 2020 Games, as it did in Rio, where Howard Grotts (Specialized) represented the U.S.

Who runs e-mountain bike racing?

There’s trouble brewing in the world of electric-assist mountain bike racing, and the UCI fired the first shots last Friday. It issued a press statement that called out the Fédération Internationale de Motocyclisme (FIM) for planning a “banned event” in early June, the FIM E-Bike Enduro World Cup in France.

The UCI is asserting its control over the growing discipline and has already planned the first world e-mountain bike championships for September 2019 in Canada, alongside the conventional MTB worlds events at Mont Saint-Anne.

It took issue with the FIM’s move to promote its own series of e-mountain bike races outside the auspices of the UCI.

In a statement, the UCI said, “The UCI had already notified the FIM in September 2017 that it considered E-mountain bike events to come exclusively under its jurisdiction and that the respective roles of the two International Federations (UCI and FIM) were clear and would not be called into question.”

This statement may be more than just bluster from cycling’s international governing body. The UCI also warned it might sanction riders who take part in the FIM’s event on June 1-2.

“The UCI wishes to announce that events in domains under its exclusive jurisdiction that are registered on the FIM calendar or those of its member Federations will be considered ‘banned events’ in line with its Regulation. Consequently, any UCI-licensed rider participating in one of these events would risk disciplinary measures,” the statement added.

In addition to the FIM’s entry into the world of e-mountain bike racing, the Grand National Cross Country Series (GNCC), an American motocross calendar, has added e-mountain bike races to its schedule of 2019 races. The eight-race series is sponsored by Specialized and has attracted some top American riders, such as former 24-hour champion and mountain bike hall of famer Nat Ross.

Got some news you’d like to share in The Dirt? I’d love to hear from you. Please email me your news and updates on all things gravel and mountain biking.