The MudFund is a branch of the USA Cycling Foundation, created to raise money to support the development of cyclocross athletes and provide competition support all the way to elite competition by focusing on cultivating grassroots efforts and providing opportunities to young athletes. To find out how the Rapha Foundation grant would be implemented, we heard from Jesse Anthony, cyclocross program manager and four-time US National Cyclocross Champion.
USA Cycling's cyclocross program supported by the MudFund aims to provide development opportunities for young US cyclocross athletes. Our approach is founded on knowledge gained from decades of experience competing at a high level in cycling, and designed to provide these athletes with the tools they need to succeed in sports.
From training advice to education on the different aspects of being a successful athlete, preparation for the challenges one might face to opportunities to compete at the highest level, the entire program is designed to complete the pathway from development athlete to professional athlete.
“The entire program is designed to complete the pathway from development athlete to professional athlete”
The level of support athletes receive is aimed to provide them the opportunity to focus fully on the task at hand, while being able to rely on the consistency of the system around them. Our goal is to expand the pathway for young cyclocross athletes in the US and provide a platform for our athletes to achieve their potential.
As the first year of MudFund’s support concludes, the programs offered will be improved further to better serve our cyclocross community in the future. This season was an excellent start for the program, and the experience gained will be crucial in helping us include more athletes, provide more opportunities and elevate the sport in the US.
The MudFund provided a number of valuable high-level competition and development opportunities to dozens of young US athletes in its first full season supporting USA Cycling's cyclocross program. We began by facilitating three Talent ID camps in July and August which saw 68 athletes – including 21 young women – build experience in bike handling, training, nutrition, race preparation, community engagement and other crucial skills. From those camps, six athletes – three junior men and three junior women – gained the opportunity to participate in a supported racing trip to the Jingle Cross UCI Telenet World Cup Cyclocross event in September.
“The MudFund provided a number of valuable high-level competition and development opportunities to dozens of young US athletes in its first full season”
In October, the MudFund hosted a skills and educational camp in Bentonville, Arkansas for 21 of the most promising cyclocross athletes in the US. This camp again covered a wide range of topics including race craft, nutrition, strength training, community engagement, brand-building, sports psychology, SafeSport, clean competition and more
In November, eleven MudFund athletes travelled to race in Europe – the first time competing overseas for nine of them. The athletes participated in four races including a Belgian national level race, two DVV Trophy races (the series is named after a Belgian insurance company) and a World Cup. The staff that supported these trips are very experienced, allowing the athletes to focus solely on the racing. The six young women and five young men – a mix of junior and U23 – were able to compete at the sport’s highest level, a benchmark experience in their fledgling careers.
After the US cyclocross season ended, the MudFund supported 15 athletes racing and training in Europe for six weeks from late December into early February. The group consisted of the top US development athletes and the trip was geared toward furthering their careers in the sport by providing racing and training experience at the highest level.The trip will culminate at the 2020 World Cyclocross Championships in Dübendorf, Switzerland in February.
“This support is going to change the game for our young athletes”
This World Championships marks an important milestone in the sport of cyclocross with the inclusion of the first Junior Women's Cyclocross World Championship. The sport will now provide equal opportunities for men and women at the most prestigious races in the world, and USA Cycling is proud to be fielding the maximum number of riders in this event. Moving forward, the Cyclocross World Cup races will also include a junior women's category, which is a major step toward developing our young athletes. The addition of this category aligns with USA Cycling's goal of providing equal opportunities for men and women in the sport of cyclocross, and the MudFund is well positioned to help athletes capitalize on these opportunities.
Together, the Rapha Foundation and MudFund are providing better support and programming to emerging US Cyclocross development athletes than they have ever received – this support is going to change the game for our young athletes.
The Rapha Foundation's mission is to build a better future for the sport of cycling by inspiring, empowering and supporting the next generation of racers. We will provide direct funding to grassroots and not for profit organisations that introduce under-served audiences to the sport. We will champion these organisations and take aspiring racers on a journey from their local park to podiums at the top of the sport. We will do this all over the world.