Organizers of the Air Force Cycling Classic's Crystal City Cup have elected to step down from UCI-sanctioning and bring the event back to its roots as a high-speed criterium. Despite the reformatting, top professional men's teams are still expected to participate.
"Invitations have already gone out to teams, and we expect to have nearly every US based pro team again, as well as some foreign teams," said Robert Laybourn of Arlington Sports Inc. "So, even though we will not be a UCI event, pro team participation will not be affected."
The Air Force Cycling Classic will provide two days of racing beginning with the National Racing Series (NRC) Clarendon Cup criterium on Saturday, June 12 followed by a criterium held in Crystal City on Sunday, June 13.
"We didn't lose the [UCI] status, we decided to run it as a crit, as we did in 2007," Laybourn said. "The Crystal City BID preferred to run the race, just highlighting the Crystal City area."
The Crystal City Cup was launched in 2007 as a criterium but jumped up to a UCI-sanctioned circuit-race in 2008 and 2009. The offered the peloton 12 laps on a challenging 12.5-kilometre loop around Crystal City, racing past the US Air Force Memorial, the Pentagon and culminating in down town Crystal City. Last year it was held in conjunction with the Clarendon Cup, formerly known as CSC Invitational and both races were re-cast under the Air Force Cycling Classic banner.
Arlington Sports, Inc. will offer an Air Force Cycling Challenge Crystal Ride for the public using the same circuit. It is billed as ‘the Peoples Ride' which gives cyclists of all abilities a chance to ride that weekend on the former UCI-sanctioned pro men's course. Participants completing eight laps will be awarded a gold medal. There are more than 2000 cyclist expected to participate this year.
"We will retain the option of bringing back the UCI course, as we will continue to run the participatory ride in the morning," Laybourn said. "The ride is the key element that the Air Force is most interested in. However, they would support the UCI race if future sponsors would come in to help expand the potential, with more budget to bring in more teams and add video coverage for the spectators."
The 13th annual Clarendon Cup will continue as one of the fastest NRC criteriums in the nation. The peloton is presented with a 100 laps race on a technical circuit. The Clarendon Cup and the Crystal City Cup are expected to attract the top professional men's teams in the country.