Big money cross country mountain bike racing is back in the US. The all-new USA Cycling US Cup Pro Series presented by Sho-Air Cycling Group will provide not only the UCI-mandated $31,000 prize purse for its four-race series, but both USA Cycling and Sho-Air Cycling Group will contribute a combined $50,000 in prize money for the top 15 overall, with equal pay going to men and women. The total $81,000 prize purse will make the US Cup, which was announced in December, the highest paying cross country race series in the world.
The rich prize purse and UCI points on offer will bring some of the best cross country mountain bike racers in the world to line up for the inaugural season. In addition, mountain bike fans all over the globe will be able to follow their every move via free and professionally-produced live online video coverage, starting with round 1 in early March.
"This new USA Cycling US Cup Pro Series raises the level of competition in the US and is a complimentary series to the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup, as evidenced by the high level of interest from some of the world's top riders," said Scott Tedro, owner of the Sho-Air Cycling Group, which is organizing the series. "We're proud to host elite racers from around the globe and throughout North America and to give up-and-coming talent the chance to go head-to-head with the sport's established stars."
Already, at least six of the top 40 riders in the world and a 30-strong contingent from Central and South America have committed to make the trip to the US to compete in the US Cup Pro Series.
The pros will have the chance to earn coveted, early season UCI points in four locations at high-ranking HC and Category 1-level UCI races, which will help them toward more advantageous starting spots at the 2014 UCI Mountain Bike World Cups.
"Racing against the best racers in the world will also help Olympic hopefuls elevate their skills, fitness and strategy ahead of the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro," said Tedro. "It will bring the Olympic cross country mountain bike movement back into focus in the U.S."
USA Cycling President & CEO Steve Johnson said, "We are excited to be working with Scott and his team at Sho-Air Cycling Group to produce a North American mountain bike race series. The USA Cycling US Cup is an important step in the continuing development of the international race calendar in North America; and will provide significant development opportunities and financial rewards for American mountain bike racers.”
On Friday, the Sho-Air Cycling Group announced series details including the points structure, payout and awards for its inaugural series, with plans for live streaming of media coverage of each round provided by We Media Project / We Media Live and webcast by USA Cycling.
Elite men and women will compete for equal prize money totaling $50,000 split among the top 15 in the overall series. In addition, each round will pay top finishers for their day's results: approximately $11,500 for the Bonelli Park HC-categorized race and $6,800 for the other three C1-level rounds.
"We've listened carefully, and our prize payout addresses the concerns which we've heard from racers over the years," said Tedro. "It reflects balance by paying the top male and female racers equally in the overall ranking, and combined with the points structure we've created, should guarantee competitive fields for the whole series."
USA Cycling US Cup Pro Series points will be awarded at each round, ranging from 25 points to each race's winner to one point to each 20th place finisher. All racers will receive an additional five points per start. The overall elite men's and women's series championship titles will go to the riders with the most points - with ties broken by number of wins, second and third place finishes. If there is still a tie, whoever finished best in the last race of the season will be awarded the championship.
The top three riders in each round will receive custom designed trophies while series leaders will don leaders' jerseys and also earn MMA-style championship belts.
The series will kick off on March 1-2, 2014, at the Mellow Johnny's Classic in Dripping Springs, Texas, and will conclude with round 4 in Colorado Springs, Colorado on June 28.
In addition to watching the pros, amateurs will line up and race the day after each of the pro races. The Colorado Springs amateur races will also count for the Colorado State Championships.
2014 USA Cycling US Cup Pro Series presented by Sho-Air Cycling Group
Round 1: March 1-2 - Mellow Johnny's Classic, Dripping Springs, Texas (UCI Category C1)
Round 2: March 15-16 - Bonelli Park, San Dimas, Calif. (UCI Category HC)
Round 3: March 23-24 - Fontana, Calif. (UCI Category C1)
Round 4: June 28-29 - Colorado Springs, Colo. (UCI Category C1)
For more information on the USA Cycling US Cup Pro Series, visit www.uscup.net.