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Frustrated by a lack of change to the temporarily suspended UCI Rule 1.2.019 preventing racers from participating in non-sanctioned races, the US Cup, which organizes US domestic mountain bike races, will no longer sanction its events through USA Cycling.
R. Scott Tedro, owner of Sho-Air International and The US Cup, announced that effective immediately, the US Cup will withdraw any USAC sanctioning for all future events. Tedro also said that the US Cup will no longer sponsor or subsidize other promoters whose events are sanctioned with USAC.
The move comes after what the US Cup called "USAC's ambiguous stance and continued blame of the UCI for the possible enforcement of rule 1.2.019, which prohibits licensed pro and amateur riders from racing in non-USAC sanctioned events starting in 2014".
Over the last eight years, the US Cup has promoted and or subsidized over 110 USAC-sanctioned mountain biking events, more than any other promoter in the US. It is perhaps best known for annually hosting rounds of the US Pro XCT, including races such as Bonelli Park and Fontana in California.
Earlier in 2013, the UCI said it would begin enforcing the longstanding Rule 1.2.019 and its related rules, which prohibit any licensed riders from competing in non-sanctioned events without risk of punishment by suspension or fine. It told its national federations, such as USA Cycling, that they must also enforce the rules.
Following that announcement and a subsequent uproar from North American racers, the UCI relented and agreed to postpone the enforcement of the rules until January 1, 2014. Many racers were hoping that the extra time before the rule was supposed to go into effect would create an opportunity for the UCI to amend or change the rule, which currently applies across all cycling disciplines and categories. Among those significantly affected are North American mountain bike pros, who regularly compete in high profile, unsanctioned races such as the Trans-Sylvania Epic or the Whiskey Off-Road. Enduro racers and 'cross racers would also be affected as many high profile enduros and 'cross races are not sanctioned by USA Cycling.
Tedro believes that the lack of progress to change the rule before it goes officially back into full effect in 2014 is "an attempt to force promoters to sanction with the USAC, enabling them to increase revenues and bolster their power over the sport while continuing to deliver an inferior product".
When asked to comment, USA Cycling had this to say about Rule 1.2.019: "USA Cycling has heard from and listened to many stakeholders – teams, riders (pro and amateur), race directors, industry and sponsors – in all cycling disciplines regarding the impact of rule 1.2.019 and we are working on a solution. This rule is not specific to mountain bike."
Tedro said, "We would rather concentrate our investment and our partners' sponsorship dollars on the event itself without the burden of USAC priorities or needs, which quite often have nothing to do with the paying customer... the riders and their families."
He also pointed to "numerous and continued inconsistencies and ever-changing priorities over the years in USAC policy and procedure, including their lack of support and management for their own series the Pro XCT and Pro UET, while placing the sole cost on the promoter, has become counterproductive to the product which the US Cup wishes to endorse."
The US Cup has also hosted Pro UET events, such as the Sagebrush Safari, thereby making it a serious supporter of both the official USAC cross country and endurance national series.
Tedro, the man behind the Sho-Air / Cannondale team, said the team's riders will not boycott USAC-sanctioned races, but can race any events which are beneficial to them. "The riders are free to choose their calendar, as they should regardless to the position taken by Tedro with USAC."
Tedro said, "We want to provide tangible benefits back to the customer rather than subsidizing USAC's aim to qualify the maximum number of riders to the Olympics at the sole expense of the promoters and the paying participants. We don't feel compelled to support the USAC for its two series, the Pro XCT and Pro UET when they refuse to mitigate costs, promote the series or enforce proper course set up and on-site management. In fact, they don't even send a full USAC officiating crew to ensure a consistent management and feel for the events."
USA Cycling will be issuing a further response responding to Tedro's comments about its two national series: the Pro XCT and Pro UET.