2016 marks a season of change for professional road racing in the USA with the implementation of the new USA Cycling Pro Road Tour. The 26-event series intends to showcase the top American teams and riders through its combination of stage races, one-day road races, omniums and criteriums that began in April and will conclude in September.
USA Cycling announced last fall of its plans to merge their two previous series’; National Road Calendar (NRC) and the National Criterium Calendar (NCC), and that the decision was made after it received feedback from event promoters and US-based teams at a National Symposium last October.
This isn’t the first time the series has been combined, and those who have been either an event promoter, member of team management, racer or fan of the sport in the US will remember the sole National Racing Calendar of five years ago, which hosted more than 50 events. The new combined series will host roughly half of the number of races, 26, in what USA Cycling Vice President of National Events Micah Rice says has “tightened up the schedule and will regularly showcase the top domestic road talent.”
All-in-all, USA Cycling is banking on the new Pro Road Tour to be a more marketable and followable calendar.
The merged calendar will host a total of 26 events that includes five stage races: Redlands Bicycle Classic, Joe Martin Stage Race (UCI 2.2), Tour of the Gila (UCI 2.2), North Star Grand Prix and the Cascade Cycling Classic (UCI 2.2 women only).
There are also four road races: Anniston Fort McClellan Road Race, Winston-Salem Classic Road Race (UCI 1.1 / UCI 1.2WE), Philadelphia International Cycling Classic (UCI 1.1 men only) and The Reading 120 (UCI 1.2 men only).
The bulk of the events on the new Pro Road Tour are criteriums and omnium events -17 in total. The omnium events are clusters of criteriums whereby points earned during each race count toward an overall winner’s tally, but racers don’t necessarily have to compete in ever race to stay involved in the overall points rankings. This year’s Road Tour has five omniums: Tusla Tough with three races, Air Force Association Cycling Classic with two races, Tour of America’s Dairyland with two races, Intelligentsia Cup with two races, and the Gateway Cup with four races.
That leaves 12 criteriums, which have traditionally been the backbone of American-style bike racing, offering spectator-friendly events, high-speed and engaging courses, and sometimes lucrative prize purses for the riders. These events are Sunny King Criterium, Charlotte Criterium, Dana Point Grand Prix, Wilmington Grand Prix, Winston-Salem Classic Criterium, Oklahoma City Pro-AM Classic, Andersen Banducci Twilight Criterium, Littleton Twilight, Rochester Twilight, Chris Thater Memorial, Thompson Criterium of Doylestown and TD Bank Mayor’s Cup will conclude the 2016 Pro Road Tour.
International stage race overall classification are heavily weighted with 75 points. From there, the number points earned for winning a race decrease.
Domestic stage race overall finishers are awarded 68 points. Winners of international time trials, road races or stages earn 40 points. Domestic road races, time trials or stages earn 36 points. Winners of criteriums, a single race in an omnium or the criterium stage of a stage race earn 25 points and criterium omnium overall winners earn 20 points.
Points are awarded to the top-10 finishers in each applicable event.
Regarding the points structure, USA Cycling noted in a press release that for the individual scoring, all applicable points will be calculated into a given rider's total. In the case of a tie on total individual points, the tie will be broken in the favour of the rider who has the most first-place finishes or, if still tied, the most second place finishes. If the individual placings still do not determine a winner, the highest placing in the last individual race of the calendar will be used.”
For team scoring, USA Cycling noted, the top-three riders of each team in each event score points for their team. For any given day of racing, the total team points for a given day will be the sum of the individual points for the top-three scoring riders.
For stage race general classifications and criterium omniums, the total team points for a given race will be the sum of the individual points for the top-three riders in the overall standings.
Only the officially registered riders of a team may score points for the team Pro Road Tour rankings. If a team has a guest rider who would have scored points as one of the top-three riders, that rider will score no points, but the next best placed scoring rider will be counted.
According to the USA Cycling Pro Road Tour rules, only men's and women's teams officially registered with USA Cycling may compete for Pro Road Tour team rankings. These teams will comprise; UCI teams registered through USA Cycling; UCI teams registered through another federation that have also registered with USA Cycling for the purpose of competing in Pro Road Tour races; USA Cycling Domestic Elite teams that register with USA Cycling for the purpose of competing in Pro Road Tour races.
UCI Professional Continental teams are only permitted to compete in the criteriums and UCI .2 and .1 stages races and one-day races and can be ranked in the individual and team overall classification.
Following the first three events on the Pro Road Tour: Sunny King Criterium, For McClellan Road Race and Redlands Bicycle Classic, the classifications have already taken shape.
Travis McCabe is leading the men's individual ranking and his team Holowesko | Citadel is leading the team classification. For the women, Kristin Armstrong is leading the individual classification and her team Twenty16-Ridebiker is leading the team classification.
2016 USA Cycling Road Calendar:
April 2 - Sunny King Criterium, Anniston, Ala. (Criterium)
April 3 - Anniston Fort McClellan Road Race, Anniston, Ala. (Road Race)
April 6-10 - Redlands Bicycle Classic, Redlands, Calif. (Stage Race)
April 21-24 - Joe Martin Stage Race, Fayetteville, Ark. (Stage Race, UCI 2.2)
April 30 - Charlotte Criterium, Charlotte, N.C. (Criterium)
April 30 - Dana Point Grand Prix of Cycling, Dana Point, Calif. (Criterium)
May 4-8 - Tour of the Gila, Silver City, N.M. (Stage Race, UCI 2.2)
May 14 - Wilmington Grand Prix, Wilmington, Del. (Criterium)
May 29 - Winston-Salem Classic Criterium, Winston-Salem, N.C. (Criterium)
June 3 - The Oklahoma City Pro-Am Classic, Oklahoma City, Okla. (Criterium)
June 10-12 - Saint Francis Tulsa Tough, Tulsa, Okla. (Criterium, Omnium)
June 11-12 - Air Force Association Cycling Classic, Arlington, Va. (Criterium, Omnium)
June 15-19 - North Star Grand Prix, Minneapolis, Minn. (Stage Race)
June 25-26 - Tour of America’s Dairyland, Milwaukee, Wis. (Criterium, Omnium)
July 16 - Andersen Banducci Twilight Criterium, Boise, Idaho (Criterium)
July 20-24 - Cascade Cycling Classic, Bend, Ore. (Stage Race, UCI 2.2 women)
July 23-24 - Intelligentsia Cup, Lake Bluff, Ill. (Criterium)
August 6 - Littleton Criterium, Littleton, Colo. (Criterium)
August 13 - Rochester Twilight Criterium, Rochester, N.Y. (Criterium)
August 27 -Chris Thater Memorial, Binghamton, N.Y. (Criterium)
September 2-5 - The TSG Realty Gateway Cup, St. Louis, Mo. (Criterium, Omnium)
Sept. 10 - Reading 120, Reading, Pa. (Road Race, UCI 1.2)
Sept. 11 - Thompson Criterium of Doylestown, Doylestown, Pa. (Criterium)
Sept. 17 - TD Bank Mayor’s Cup, Boston, Mass. (Criterium).