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USA Cycling will send six total road cyclists to the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, as the UCI confirms the official national allotments for next year’s summer games.
Of the six, four spots are for women, and two are for men.
The Olympic national quotas were set by each nation’s spot on the UCI World Rankings, a hierarchy that weighs the individual UCI points by top riders from each nation.
The rankings for October 27, 2019 established the Olympic quotes for 2020. In those rankings, the U.S. men were ranked No. 26 internationally, just behind Eritrea.
By contrast, the U.S. women were ranked fourth.
American men only earned two starting slots for the road race out of a maximum of five, but they also gained two starting positions for the time trial. Belgium, Italy, France, Spain, and Colombia all earned the maximum five spots, with Great Britain and Denmark, among other nations, earning four, and Canada, Czech Republic, and Kazakhstan earning three.
On the women’s side, the team earned a maximum of four starting positions for the road race, and two for the time trial. Other nations to earn the maximum four spots include Australia, Germany, Italy, and the Netherlands.
In all, 130 men will compete in the road race, with 40 for the time trial, while 67 women will start the road race, with 25 in the time trial.
The UCI could reallocate some positions if countries do not fill their respective quotas by December 15.
The announcement caused a stir on social media, with critics wondering why there are more start positions for men than women. Since 1996, when professionals were first allowed to race, the men’s allotment dropped from 184 in Atlanta to 144 from 2004-16, and will dip to 130 in 2020. On the women’s side, the allotment was at 58 in 1996, and grew to 66-68 riders starting in 2004.
The Olympic road race courses already came under criticism earlier this year when it was revealed that the men’s race is much more challenging and features a climbing sector along Mount Fuji that is not featured in the women’s race.
The #DinoBoyz of @UCI_cycling are at it again: women have half the Olympic qualifying slots as men in road cycling. 130 men; 67 women. This is wrong. Also, it’s against the creed of #IOC: “To support equality of men and women.”
Requested meetings. Will keep fighting. 💪👊🚴🏻♀️ https://t.co/V8WqJkRAa1
— Kathryn Bertine (@KathrynBertine) November 18, 2019