The USA Cycling Professional Criterium National Championship moves to a new location for 2011-2012 and will be restricted to U.S. citizens only. The professional men's national championship event will take place in Grand Rapids, Michigan as part of the city's Grand Cycling Classic, USA Cycling announced on Thursday. The event had been hosted by Downers Grove, Illinois from 1991-2009 before moving to Glencoe, Illinois for the 2010 edition. The date for the 2011 championship is still to be determined.
Additionally, the 2011 professional men's national criterium championship will for the first time be open only to U.S. citizens. In previous editions, any rider who was a part of a UCI trade team could enter the race, with the first American crossing the line crowned the national champion. Following in the footsteps of the USA Cycling Professional Road and Time Trial National Championships, the professional criterium national championship event will permit only American cyclists to start.
"Changing the format of this event to a stand-alone national championship limited to American riders is a great step that will eliminate the current and sometimes confusing disconnect between winning the race and winning the stars-and-stripes jersey," said Steve Johnson, USA Cycling CEO. "Now is the right time for this change, and Grand Rapids will provide the perfect venue to showcase our top American riders."
The city of Grand Rapids was selected from four final candidate cities following a nationwide search and competitive bid process.
"We are very excited to have been selected," said Mike Guswiler, executive director of the West Michigan Sports Commission. "The Grand Cycling Classic has continued to grow into a popular event in downtown Grand Rapids and now, to have the USA Cycling Pro Criterium National Championships as part of this event, brings it to another level and answers the mission of the sports commission in promoting our region as a premier venue for hosting major sporting events."
The Grand Cycling Classic has been part of the USA Cycling National Racing Calendar since 2007 and consists of a classic six-turn criterium course in the heart of downtown Grand Rapids.