Cycling Australia ditch mountain bike programme

Aim is to focus on sports with 'greater Olympic medal prospects'

Cycling Australia are to close their High Performance Program for cross-country mountain bike racers at the end of the year due to lack of funds.

Instead the organisation's resources will be concentrated on programmes "with greater Olympic medal prospects".

"This has been a very difficult decision to arrive at, and one that has come after a considerable period of review," said Cycling Australia's CEO, Graham Fredericks in a statement. "The key reason for this decision is the stretched resources available for our High Performance Programs.

"Federal government funding in 2009 was approximately AU$1million less than in 2008 and there is no indication this will change in the future... We are being very pragmatic about using the limited resources we have in targeting athletes and programs with very genuine medal prospects in London in 2012."

Part of the problem is that funding for Cycling Australia was agreed three years ago, before the global financial slowdown. Travel and other costs have since increased hugely.

The organisation will continue to work with mountain bikers, with the hope that the programme may return in future. Three riders will continue to receive support next year – Rowena Fry, Gracie Elvin and Paul Van der Ploeg – and Cycling Australia hope to appoint a manager who will oversee preparations for the world championships.

Strong performances at UCI world cup and world championship events should ensure that some Australian cross-country riders qualify for the London Games. Neil Ross will continue as coach.

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