The 2016/2017 UCI cyclocross World Cup series will begin with back-to-back rounds of racing in the United States as Jingle Cross joins CrossVegas on the World Cup calendar. The race in Iowa City, typically held in late November or early December, will move to September 24, coming three days after CrossVegas on September 21.
“It’s a honor to be given a World Cup,” race organizer John Meehan told Cyclingnews. “We’re thrilled. […] It’s really cool to se the UCI expand outside of Europe with the World Cup series. They are truly making it a World Cup.”
“We really seriously started looking at the World Cup four years ago,” Meehan added. “We wanted to see what steps we would need to take to get to that level. It was mostly a matter of building a course that was challenging enough.”
His event has typically been a three-race weekend that offers UCI events for the pros alongside racing for the amateur. Meehan confirmed that while the World Cup would be the main attraction, it would cap off a full weekend of racing. The World Cup on Saturday will not change the ‘something for everybody’ ethos upon which Meehan and his team of volunteers have built their event.
“We will be catering to all racers as best we can,” said Meehan. “We have to preserve the World Cup course, but the cool part is that on Sunday, imagine if you will that you go to a professional football game and you get to watch an NFL play-off game and then the next day you and your friends get to go down and play flag-football on the same field.”
“That’s what we’re offering,” Meehan added. “We’re going to let everyone else out on the course on Sunday when the World Cup is over. I think that will be a big attraction for the amateurs -- to race on the World Cup course exactly as it was.”
While Meehan still needs to speak with the UCI about the finer details of event weekend, he could confirm Friday night and Sunday racing for the amateurs with a possible race on Saturday morning. The pros will have the option to line up for a C2 event on Friday and a yet-to-be-ranked event on Sunday.
“The World Cup riders are the most elite of the elite,” explained Meehan. “Not all pro riders in all the countries will be qualified to race the World Cup That includes some of our very good North American riders, so we’ve added the C2 race on Friday night and we intend to have a C1 or C2 race on Sunday depending on what the UCI will allow.”
Although nations are normally granted eight starters for every UCI World Cup, Americans were allowed 16 starters at CrossVegas last year when the race became the first-ever North American World Cup. Meehan hopes the UCI will make the same exception for Jingle Cross come September.
“We have so many very good qualified US riders that need the experience but don’t have the budget to travel over to Europe,” said Meehan. “Well, here’s Europe coming over to them. It’s a golden opportunity to allow some of the other athletes to develop more”
“I really hope they do allow it, but it is entirely their decision, and I certainly defer to their good judgment in terms of what’s best for the sport, North American racing and the World Cup series.”
Montreal was meant to play host to a World Cup last September but a lack of financial support forced a last minute change to the schedule, which meant CrossVegas was left as the stand-alone World Cup in North America. Meehan insists that his event’s finances race are secure.
“This race is a sure thing,” said Meehan. “Our finances are not a problem at all. The city of Iowa City has stepped forward and really helped us out tremendously as well as the local community, the local businesses. We’re ready to roll.”
"The Jingle Cross has always been a charity event for the University of Iowa Children's Hospital, and we will continue toward the goal. We will be donating proceeds to the children's hospital as we always have."
While both the event date and status has changed, the Christmas theme will remain intact.
“Moving to September means Christmas comes early,” said Meehan. “And yes – you’ll still see the Grinch.”