Yannick Eckmann won his first US Cyclo-cross Championship in Verona, Wisconsin last week, racing against the best U23 riders in the country, but he will not be able to fly the "Stars and Stripes" at the world championships in Louisville on February 2. After sorting through the myriad UCI eligibility rules, which both Eckmann and his father say were sometimes contradictory, Eckmann will race for Germany in Louisville.
"Since I switched in December, for my USA Cycling code, it means I have to race US Nationals now," said Eckmann on why he won't be representing the US in 2013 after winning the national championship. "This means I can't do German nationals anymore, and I can't race right away for the US National Team at World Cups and world championships."
"There came a lot of rules into play, nobody knew the exact rule, and that kind of stressed me out, because I wanted to race," said Eckmann about his roller coaster ride sorting out his eligibility rules. "I didn't want to not race. So I hoped for something good."
Eckmann received word several weeks ago that he could race at nationals, but did not know if he could race for the championship jersey until last Thursday when was informed by Jim Miller, of USA Cycling, that he was good to go. Despite Miller's help sorting through the UCI bureaucracy Eckmann was still working through issues the day before his race.
Eckmann recalled his last minute scrambling, "The next morning, or the same night, I got an email from the UCI, Jim Miller, and Shawn Farrell saying that I still need to state I'm leaving [the German Federation.] I already thought I did that, because when I applied for my new license, I wrote that I'm applying for the USA Cycling license, I have my US certificate, I'm a US citizen now, and I'm trying to switch from German to American, and I thought that was it. But, having to write an email saying I hereby give up my German nationality, I didn't expect that."
Eckmann, who races on the road as well for the California Giant Berry/Specialized squad with his brother Robin, was compelled to switch nationalities for practical reasons. "We have been living in the US for eight years now in Colorado. We are not planning on moving back any time soon," said Eckmann. "The thing is, riding on the road especially, for Germany, you can't do that because it's a team sport and they want us to be over there riding with the national team more often."
Eckmann was officially confirmed for Germany's worlds team, which is guaranteed four spots in the U23 division. "They are only taking two riders over here," said Eckmann who one of the top three Germans according to UCI points. "Since I already live in the US it's a short travel for me. They couldn't officially say I'm in, but they kind of said “We'll see you at Worlds."
Eckmann will be eligible to race for the US at World Cup and championship cyclo-cross events starting in the 2013-14 season. The U23 UCI Cyclo-cross World Championships are being held in Louisville, Kentucky on February 2.