Fontana drops out of US Pro XCT

The elite women all lined up to start the US Pro XCT in Wisconsin

The elite women all lined up to start the US Pro XCT in Wisconsin (Image credit: Jared Brodjeski)

The 2012 USA Cycling Pro Mountain Bike Cross Country Tour (US Pro XCT) will shrink by one round after the originally scheduled third round, Fontana, withdrew from the series. Originally announced on September 21, the 2012 US Pro XCT will consist of five rounds as it did in 2011. Changes to the dates and UCI categories of some of the other series races have also been made.

The US Cup's Triple Crown Fontana round will not be inscripted by the UCI in 2012. No longer part of the US Pro XCT, it will continue to happen as part of the US Cup's Rock N Road West Series Cup.

"The long and short of it is our budget," said Ty Kady of the US Cup, which organizes races in Bonelli Park and Fontana. "What we collect and what Sho-Air is providing has been reduced. From a business standpoint and having hosted these events in the past, hosting a Pro XCT isn't a money maker for us. You have to hire UCI judges and house them and have a larger (prize) purse. It's not like we get a larger turnout for doing so. This year things are tighter, and we're watching our dollars."

Kady told Cyclingnews that the US Cup had thought about also pulling Bonelli Park out of the US Pro XCT, too, but changed its mind after USA Cycling and the UCI allowed them to down-categorize the race from a C1 to a C3. "With a C3, entry fees and purse are lower - it's more affordable for us," said Kady.

Another reason for withdrawing Fontana from the series was scheduling. With the Olympic Games taking up some of August in 2012, other major events have fewer total weekends to happen. Per the US Pro XCT schedule released in mid-September, top US athletes would have travelled to California for Bonelli Park, then to South Africa for the World Cup opener, then back to California for the Fontana Pro XCT on three consecutive weekends. Kady had consulted with some elite athletes, who admitted in advance they were unlikely to undertake all that travel while also competing for US Olympic Team spots at the spring World Cups, which meant many favorites would likely have opted to skip Fontana anyway.

"We're not giving up completely on the US Pro XCTs - we're moving some dollars and thinking of the overall schedule for top riders. And we're not just focused on the top riders," said Kady, who said his organization is particularly excited about the Catalina Gran Fondo its promoting in 2012. Such mass participation events cater to more than the top pro racers.

In other changes to the US Pro XCT, the Missoula XC in Missoula, Montana, originally inscripted as a UCI category 2 event, has been upgraded by the UCI to category 1 and will be held on July 14 (instead ofthe originally planned August 4 which would have been one week before the Olympic Games) while the Wisconsin Off-Road Series (WORS) Subaru Cup moves later on the calendar from July 14 to August 18, which is one week after the Olympic Games.

The US Pro XCT is slated to begin on March 3 in Dripping Springs, Texas with Mellow Johnny's Classic before continuing the following week with US Cup Triple Crown - Bonelli Park in San Dimas, California. The third race is scheduled to be Ute Valley in Colorado Springs, Colorado, before the tour continues on July 14 in Missoula. The tour concludes on August 18 with the Subaru Cup in Mt. Morris, Wisconsin.

2012 US Pro XCT (Revised)
March 3 - Mellow Johnny's Classic, Dripping Springs, Texas (UCI Cat. 1)
March 10 - US Cup Triple Crown - Bonelli Park, California (3)
June 16 - Ute Valley Pro XCT, Colorado Springs, Colorado (2)
July 14 - Missoula Montana XC, Montana (1)
August 18 - Wisconsin Off-Road Series (WORS) - Mt. Morris, Wisconsin (1)

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Sue George is an editor at Cyclingnews.  She coordinates all of the site's mountain bike race coverage and assists with the road, 'cross and track coverage.