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Andrea Smith (LadiesFirst Racing) wins day two of the NECCS series in Vermont.
UCI demands quality, not quantity from US races
Recently the International Cycling Union (UCI) announced that the North American Cyclo-cross Trophy Series (NACT) and the Verge New England Championships Cyclo-cross Series (NECCS) were facing suspension for not applying for a UCI inscription (Art1.2.026). While the two series were to be banned, the individual races were allowed to continue as UCI events. The NECCS bounced back from the sad news with the publication of the 2011-2012 calendar and the desire to have eight of these races grouped into a UCI-sanctioned series.
Both NACT organiser Brooke Watts and NECCS organiser Adam Myerson claimed they were unaware that the never-before enforced UCI rule would suddenly be applied. However, Peter Van den Abeele, the UCI's Off-Road Manager, told Cyclingnews on Friday that all US series received a warning last summer.
“We sent two pages with calendar stipulations, procedures and guidelines for the upcoming season. In that document the rule was written down. I can't imagine that the race organisers figured: 'hey, there's a document from the UCI but I'm not going to read it.' The NACT and the NECCS didn't react. That was the first warning and this is a major warning. According to the rule, the individual races would lose their UCI status too but we didn't want to go that far,” Van den Abeele said.
For Van den Abeele, NECCS organiser Myerson’s reaction seems somewhat strange as he feels that he should have been aware of the rule. “I never had a problem with Adam Myerson when he was member of the UCI cyclo-cross commission. He was there when we discussed calendar topics and already at his time the Series topic was mentioned. The organisers from the USGP contacted us right away to ask about the rule. They have the right attitude and it's no surprise the same people are organizing the world championships in 2013,” Van den Abeele said.
Van den Abeele also said that the claim that this UCI rule has not been enforced in the past is not correct, and he referred to the reduction of the Superprestige Series from twelve to eight races back in 2000. It also worth noting that the UCI cyclo-cross World Cup has been composed of a maximum of 8 rounds for the past 2 years.
“In the past few years we've been nonchalant about this rule in the US in order to allow the sport to grow but we want to avoid proliferation. The US organisers had different advantages at the beginning compared to the European organisers [initially there was lower prize money but the same number of UCI points on offer for C1 races in the USA]. The next step is now, with an eye on the upcoming UCI cyclo-cross world championships in the USA, and it's time to think more about quality rather than quantity.”
Cyclo-cross is not the only discipline where organisers are going to be expected to raise their standards. “We're going to be more strict in the mountain bike scene too,” Van den Abeele warned.