National Development Program Q&A


What is USA Cycling doing to help ensure the future success of American cyclists in the international arena?

  • USA Cycling maintains development programs across many levels and disciplines of the sport, including: men’s, women’s and junior endurance programs; mountain bike; sprint track and BMX programs – not to mention our regional talent ID camps.

Is there a “national U23 team” anymore?

  • No, USA Cycling is moving toward a more inclusive development “pool” program that gives many more athletes the opportunity for exposure, development and experience at the next level. Over 3,000 athletes have logged thousands of fully supported rider and race days through this concept over the last decade.

How do these development programs help grow the sport in America?

  • USA Cycling takes talented cyclists from the grassroots levels of the sport and helps develop them into professional cyclists who become heroes and role models. These heroes and role models generate interest and enthusiasm that pull new, young, talented athletes into the sport at the entry level. Not only are heroes and role models essential for pulling the next generation of talented cyclists into the sport, but they are necessary for the success of the bicycling industry in America. This provides sponsors with high-level cycling heroes that can be seen using their products.  Every American rider under the age of 30 competing in road cycling’s highest level have, to some degree, come through this program.  

Why are many of USA Cycling’s development programs based in Europe?

  • For Americans to achieve Olympic and world championship podiums, they must be able to race at their sport’s top-level, which in cycling is in Europe. For this reason, USA Cycling bases its development programs in Europe with the intention of placing as many Americans as possible on top-tier trade teams. USA Cycling sustains national team houses in the Netherlands; Freiburg, Germany; and Lucca, Italy. 

What is the purpose of USA Cycling’s Junior Development Program?

  • Offer a wider variety and larger number of juniors the opportunity to gain experience at the sport’s highest level; incorporates a pay-to-play element especially for younger juniors
  • Continue to graduate apt juniors to the espoir ranks who possess a deep understanding of the subtleties and nuances to high-level European racing
  • Ultimately, develop American cyclists into international talent bound for the professional levels

What is pay-to-play?

  • Pay-to-play is a model where select athletes and USA Cycling share costs of training and competition – often in the form of European racing/training trips. In most cases, the athlete covers travel costs and USA Cycling covers all cost associated with competition and support. This model is most often used to fund 15-16 age division programs and other newer/younger programs. Pay-to-play allows USA Cycling to offer many more athletes opportunities and access to high-level resources, training and competition.

What is the “Athlete Development Pathway” and where does it begin?

  • The athlete development pathway is a system developed by USA Cycling’s athletic department designed to identify and develop cycling talent across America.
  • The pipeline begins with local races and Road Development Race Series (RDRS) and American Mountain Bike Challenge (AMBC) events, moves through regional talend ID camps, through national championships, European race camps, to more consistent, lengthy participation in the junior national development program and on into the espoir program. The model is designed to ultimately take riders to the “professional capstone.”

What is USA Cycling’s Regional Talent ID Camp system and what is its purpose?

  • More than a dozen development camps are offered each year all over the country for road cyclists, mountain bikers, track racers, BMX riders, women and more. The Regional Talent ID Camp system provides fundamental development, instructional and racing opportunities for riders age 14-22 with some racing experience. Over the course of a six-day camp, participants will practice skills specific to the camp discipline, enjoy informational discussions about nutrition, bike mechanics, training, and take part in standardized field testing. In some cases, the Regional Talent ID Camps assist in selecting riders for international competition and/or a national development camp.

What is the “Pool Program?”

  • USA Cycling’s “Pool Program” is both a philosophy for development of athletes and for support of these athletes who are the future of American cycling. Moving away from the “national team” model, the “pool philosophy” allows USA Cycling to offer a much greater number of athletes the opportunity to gain international racing experience, including access to high quality coaching, equipment and competition.

What is “cross-over” and why is USA Cycling incorporating it across many programs?

  • Under USA Cycling’s current High Performance Plan, athletes are directed by function — sprint and endurance — rather than by discipline. Under this scenario, athletes can utilized as best suited across physiologically similar disciplines. Opportunities for cross-training and resource sharing also guarantee a more efficient use of limited resources. In other words, we will introduce promising road cyclists to endurance events on the track (ie. Madison), promising time trialers to the pursuit on the track, promising four cross mountin bikers to the supercross BMX track, etc.