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The crux of the partnership is that USA Cycling will now recognize results earned by riders at NICA events. These points will count toward seeding at USA Cycling national championship events.
Previously, NICA and USA Cycling events occurred with no formal relationship to one another, and USA Cycling did not recognize NICA results.
USA Cycling will also join NICA as an official league sponsor.
“It’s vital that USA Cycling and NICA work together, to champion a more inclusive and accessible path into cycling – especially for youth,” said Rob DeMartini, CEO of USA Cycling. “Together we can champion youth riding and racing and the next generation of cyclists. The work has just begun and we are excited to be working alongside the leaders of Interscholastic cycling in America to get more kids on bikes.”
The deal marks the first major step toward uniting the country’s two largest youth cycling development organizations. USA Cycling has for decades operated national championship events for juniors and Under-23 riders. The federation has also organized and coached U.S. national development teams to compete overseas. USA Cycling also certifies coaches that work with all levels of athletes, including development riders.
NICA was founded in 2009, and in recent years it has blossomed into the country’s largest youth cycling organization, with 30 different leagues across the country. In 2019 NICA saw 22,500 students participate. NICA owns its own rulebook and coaching guide, and stages its own competitions outside of the umbrella of USA Cycling.
“We are pleased to welcome USA Cycling as a sponsor and look forward to the opportunities this creates for our student-athletes through our shared passion for youth cycling and character development,” said NICA President Steve Matous.
For years the two organizations have operated independently of one another, with NICA results not counting toward USA Cycling national championship qualification or seeding. All that will change in 2021 and beyond.
As part of the deal, all NICA participants will also receive USA Cycling junior memberships free of charge, as well as discounted family memberships. The membership deal could boost USA Cycling’s overall number of members.
To date, NICA’s most celebrated graduate is Kate Courtney, who learned to ride within the Bay Area NICA program and would grow up to become the 2018 UCI world champion. Cross-country rider Haley Batten and road pro Sean Bennett have also seen their path forward through NICA.