Sho-Air Cycling Group announced on Friday a new, world-class cross country mountain bike series in partnership with USA Cycling. The four-race series, which will be known as the USA Cycling US Cup Pro Series presented by Sho-Air Cycling Group, is the result of a $500,000+ multi-year agreement.
"I have agreed to create a new professional mountain bike race series, starting in 2014, which will be exclusively managed, promoted and maintained by the Sho-Air Cycling Group on behalf of USA Cycling," said Scott Tedro of the Sho-Air Cycling Group. "It will involve USA Cycling's management at the highest level and be overseen personally by Steve Johnson and Sean Petty."
"I am thrilled by the creation of the four-race, USA Cycling US Cup Series presented by Sho-Air Cycling Group," said USA Cycling President & CEO Steve Johnson, "and I would like to personally thank Scott Tedro for his passion and long-standing support of American mountain biking."
"I have been especially impressed with Scott's willingness to engage in constructive dialogue regarding both our immediate needs and future opportunities, and particularly his continued willingness to support that future financially," said Johnson. "Frankly, this has been a collaborative effort in every sense of the word, including extraordinary support from the UCI; at the end of the day, this is a tremendous step forward for North American mountain biking!"
About the new series
In 2014, the USA Cycling US Cup Pro Series will include three established races and one new race, including the Mellow Johnny's Classic in Texas; Bonelli Park in California; Fontana in California; and a final round to be created in Colorado Springs, Colorado. All four events will be sanctioned by the UCI as Category HC or Category 1 events.
The deal came about after several months of productive meetings between the Sho-Air Cycling Group, USA Cycling and the UCI.
"We agreed to give USA Cycling the US Cup name, and we changed our name to Sho-Air Cycling Group to make this happen," said Tedro. "Our mutual goal is to create a sustainable, long-standing model for a series that will be complimentary to the UCI's World Cup and that will help US and international riders."
"This has been a long process, and the UCI has been very cooperative and helpful. A UCI Commissaire has previewed all the venues."
In its first year, the series will include one or two UCI category HC events, the highest possible race classification outside of a World Cup, World or Continental Championships. The remaining events will be UCI category 1.
Racing will kick off in Dripping Springs, Texas with a category 1-level race. "The organizers of the Mellow Johnny's Classic were gracious enough to allow their race to be part of the series," said Tedro.
2014 will mark the first time an HC-category mountain bike race is held in North America. Bonelli Park has already been granted HC status as a test case, and the UCI is reviewing a petition to upgrade the Fontana race's status to HC.
"Many of the World Cup teams are very excited about travelling to sunny Southern California to compete," said Tedro, "however, while the cost to come to the US for just one HC-categorized event may be cost prohibitive, travelling for two is easily justified."
In future years, the series will continue to include four rounds, and all will be sanctioned as UCI category HC events. Due to the UCI's process of sanctioning HC events, not all four events could be HC in the series' first year.
The USA Cycling US Cup Pro Series will deliberately hold most rounds in February and March, early in the season, to allow riders to earn UCI points ahead of each World Cup season and to help riders and nations in their qualifying bids for the next Olympic Games. A final round will be run each year in Colorado Springs in the June time-frame, which is traditionally when the cross country World Cup takes a break, thereby enabling World Cup-level racers to compete in the entire series. USA Cycling intends to host an annual mountain bike summit in conjunction with each year's finals.
"I know that some people will be disappointed that the US Cup Pro Series is a west coast-centric event, but we need to take advantage of dates that do not conflict with the World Cup schedule," said Tedro. "We can utilize the west coast's weather to put on races at times that don't conflict. It'll be the perfect chance for international teams to travel to the US for a block of good racing and good weather."
How it came to be
Overcoming past differences, the Sho-Air Cycling Group joined the partnership with USA Cycling to pursue shared goals of supporting elite-level mountain bike racing in the United States.
"It's well documented that Sho-Air Cycling Group, formerly known as the US Cup, had pulled away from USA Cycling as result of philosophical differences revolving around the Pro XCT Series," said Tedro.
In September of this year, things came to a head with Tedro announcing that he would no longer sanction his events with USA Cycling, nor would he subsidize any promoter who did. After several weeks of negative banter, USA Cycling President & CEO Steve Johnson met with Tedro at Sho-Air's corporate headquarters in southern California, and the two men found that they were actually in agreement about the future of mountain biking in North America and abroad.
"Steve Johnson has been amazing in this process, and his support has been unbending," said Tedro. "We had a great meeting of the minds, shared similar ideas and discovered that we have a lot in common. We began the process of putting something together not only for North America, but the world."
The jointly owned USA Cycling US Cup Pro Series intends to run its four events in the same locations and on the same dates each year for the next three to five years. USA Cycling and the Sho-Air Cycling Group will both contribute cash and management to produce the series, including a generous prize purse for the overall winners. Series participation is open to riders from around the globe, and the series will crown overall male and female winners.
The Sho-Air Cycling Group will also be an exclusive partner with USAC and will be sanctioning all of their events for 2014 and beyond.
2014 USA Cycling US Cup Pro Series presented by Sho-Air Cycling Group
March 1-2: Round 1 - Mellow Johnny's Class, Dripping Springs, Texas (C1)
March 15-16: Round 2 - Bonelli Park, San Dimas, California (HC)
March 23-24: Round 3 - Fontana, California (C1)
June 14: Round 4 - Colorado Springs, Colorado (C1)