Maplelag Spring Opener brings UCI racing to the Midwest

Racers don't often think of the midwestern portion of the US when they think of mountain biking, but...

Racers don't often think of the midwestern portion of the US when they think of mountain biking, but many top offroad racers have called the area home.

And that's just where the North American UCI points chase will head this weekend for a brand new elite race in Maplelag on May 12 in Minnesota. The event is part of the new USA Cycling Mountain Bike National calendar.

Promoter Jay Richards explained his goal to help serious racers from the Midwest. "There are really good riders in the Midwest and we want to give them a chance to earn UCI points and move up. We're doing it to help the local riders.

"There are no national series events in the Midwest and there hasn't been since Alpine Valley," said Richards of the recent lack of elite-level races in the area. He is hosting the UCI race to help top riders earn UCI points and give regional semi-pros and experts an opportunity to race against faster competition while working their way up to or within the pro ranks.

"If it was for us to be making money, we wouldn't be doing it," finished Richards, who pointed to top racers like Jenna Zander (Bear Naked Cannondale) and Jeff Hall (Salsa Cycles) to do well this weekend. Zander finished 12th at last year's Under 23 women's world championship.

The course will feature a cross country mountain bike race on ski trails and singletrack. In dry fast conditions, the 8.5 km lap takes top racers about 30 minutes to complete. Each lap will feature 700 feet of climbing. Men will do four laps while women race three.

Richards also promotes an annual Labor Day weekend regional mountain bike race called the Laddies Loppet at Maplelag.

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