Organizers of CrossVegas will likely move the marquee cyclo-cross event from its traditional September spot on the UCI calendar to a later spot in February of 2012. Discussion regarding the date change began when the industry trade show Interbike announced it would move from its current Las Vegas, Nevada venue and late September calendar position to Anaheim, California and an August 1time slot for 2011.
"If CrossVegas does move to that slot [in February], it opens up opportunities for winter getaways for most of us who live in colder climates," said event promoter Brook Watts. "There are fantastic flight and hotel packages at that time, so it might be a great opportunity for 'cross fans who have not been able to see the race in September to take part in the spectacle. At that time of year, with milder temperatures, CrossVegas could become a mid-day event and through live TV reach the "prime time" audience in Europe.
"We are talking with various parties in the US and internationally about an end of the international season blow out in Las Vegas that combines social aspects with a race on the CrossVegas course," he said. "I compare CrossVegas to the ProBowl of NFL football that took place after the Superbowl and was largely a made-for-TV event with season-ending social activities for athletes and spouses or partners."
In its fourth anniversary, CrossVegas has traditionally kicked off Interbike in mid-September. It is highlighted as one of the most attractive cyclo-cross events on the North American calendar often hosting many of the European professionals. Some speculate that the event might lose some of its fan base if it is not held in conjunction with industry trade show, however, Watts believes otherwise.
"I think if a move like this does take place, it simply changes the tone of the race," Watts said. "We've seen the spectators at CrossVegas grow from a largely "Interbike-centric" crowd to a great balance of Interbike attendees and cycling fans from Las Vegas and the southwest US. We already have non-Interbike attendees from around the country traveling to vacation, and even honeymoon in one example this year, so I think that will grow. European travelers love to visit Las Vegas, especially to escape the cold European winters, so that opens yet another opportunity for spectators."
Watts noted that if CrossVegas becomes a late-season event, it will be a great way to end the cyclo-cross calendar for both Europeans and North Americans. However, he is not sure if it will maintain a UCI C1 level sanctioning at this time.
"Obviously, a February race that is an end of season event takes a completely different tone, it becomes a showcase for the new World Champion and the national champions in their jerseys," Watts said. "It provides entertainment opportunities and gala presentations and banquets done 'Vegas-style' like the sport has never quite seen. We've seen that globalization of 'cross is becoming a reality so it's natural that the US should take part in the late season of 'cross. For those reasons, I think it could become very successful.
"It will still attract Europeans, but for different reasons than the pre-season role that CrossVegas has taken to date," he said. "For example, there is a flourishing late-February road racing scene in Las Vegas that looks to expand. This provides opportunities for some road racers, especially domestic riders, to 'double dip' with CrossVegas."
Although CrossVegas will stay in Las Vegas, Watts noted that his organization is actively speaking with Interbike regarding the possibility of creating another cyclo-cross event at the new Anaheim location held in early August. However, it is unlikely that a new event will be UCI-sanctioned that early in the season.
"We're very pleased with the excitement and entertainment that CrossVegas has added to the show experience, they're a great team of people and are fun to deal with," Watts said. "We think that a 'cross race that provides opportunities to showcase new products and perhaps most importantly, allows bicycle industry members to compete for bragging rights in the Wheelers & Dealers race, has to be a part of every Interbike regardless of the date. Look at that industry race and how it maxed out registration in 30 minutes. The field will be around 150 riders this year. I call that incredible demand, and I think the date is secondary to that audience.
"Is a UCI Elite race possible at that date? Perhaps no," he said. "We'll have to see, but certainly we could fill an evening with multiple Wheelers & Dealers races and other categorized races. Clearly we have lots to do as soon as the curtain drops on this year's Interbike and CrossVegas."