The first race on USA Cycling's 2015 National Criterium Calendar announced this week that it has been canceled. Organisers of Tampa's Gasparilla Criterium, scheduled for this Saturday, announced on Monday that the six-year-old event would not take place after a major sponsor withdrew support.
“In the last two weeks, the race directors of the [Gasparilla Criterium and Cycling Festival] received word that a major new sponsor was unable to participate in this year’s program,” the statement read.
“Because of this and the compounding effect of other challenging circumstances inherent in the production of top-level cycling events, the 2015 event, which was set to begin in St. Petersburg’s Fort De Soto Park on Friday, March 20, will not happen.”
The cycling festival's inaugural individual time trial and collegiate team time trial were originally planned for Friday, March 20, followed by Saturday's NCC criterium in downtown Tampa. Sunday’s Pinellas Park Circuit Race, produced by TopView Sports, is still on.
Teams registered for Saturday's NCC race included the UnitedHealthcare men’s and women’s teams, Astellas Oncology Pro Cycling Team, DNA Cycling, Colavita-Bianchi and Pepper Palace-Happy Tooth, among others.
“We are all terribly upset,” said David Green, Chairman of the organising committee. “So many important individuals contribute to the production of this program. Our heartfelt apologies go out to all of the teams, management, support staff and sponsors.
“While posting this press release was very difficult, we felt that it was important to go forward with this decision to cancel,” Green continued. “From the board, this announcement is released with the goal of informing our stakeholders, and furthering the GC+ASF for the future.”
The news pushes the NCC season opener to the Sunny King Criterium the following week on Saturday, March 28, in Anniston, Alabama.. Athletes will be competing over the 1km criterium course for more than $25,000 plus primes over the course of the day in Anniston.
Cycling fans around the world will be able to catch all the pro men's and women's race on Cyclingnews via the Sunny King Live Stream, which will be hosted by announcer Brad Sohner.
Carlos Alzate (InCycle-Predator) and Coryn Rivera (UnitedHealthcare) both took consecutive wins in 2014. NCC Individual Champion Erica Allar (Colavita Fine Cooking) took second to Rivera, who took third in the NCC Overall standings.
“We are grateful for the continued generous support from Sunny King Automotive and all our sponsors,” Cullinane said. “This is an exciting building year for a much larger and more prominent weekend of cycling in Alabama next year.”