December 3 - Australia is to close its mountain bike High Performance Programme for mountain bike racers at the end of this month, they have announced.


Instead the organisation's resources will be concentrated on programmes "with greater Olympic medal prospects" in the build-up to the London 2012 Olympics, Graham Fredericks, the chief executive of Cycling Australia said.


He said: "This has been a very difficult decision to arrive at, and one that has come after a considerable period of review.


"The key reason for this decision is the stretched resources available for our High Performance Programmes.


"Federal government funding in 2009 was approximately A$1million (£556,000) 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 programmes 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, Fredericks claimed.


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 Neil Ross will carry on as coach.