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Harlem Skyscraper Classic among US lineup for 2022 criterium series

Justin Williams won the men's elite criterium at the 2019 Harlem Skyscraper Cycling Classic
Justin Williams won the men's elite criterium at the 2019 Harlem Skyscraper Cycling Classic (Image credit: Unity Sports)

The final list of founding events for a new national criterium series in the US was revealed this week, providing 10 criteriums across nine states. Two races in New York, the MVP Health Care Rochester Twilight Criterium and the Harlem Skyscraper Cycling Classic, were added to an early lineup released a month ago. Also included are the Sunny King Criterium in Alabama and one of the nine days of racing from the Intelligentsia Cup in Illinois.

America’s Criterium Cup was the leading contender for an official title of the series, pending approval by organisers on Friday. 

The professional criterium series was first announced in December by USA Cycling along with a group of race directors and cycling teams. The series is to be self-funded by its founding events, with support and prize money totalling $100,000 and divided equally among men and women, in addition to individual event payouts. 

The series begins on April 9 in Anniston, Alabama, then picks up again on May 21 in Rochester, NY. The bulk of the series offers seven races in the summer months and concludes on Labor Day, September 5, with the Benton Park Classic, the fourth and final day of the Bommarito Audi Gateway Cup.

Several of the events had been part of USA Cycling’s Pro Road Tour, which offered points to elite riders and teams for overall calendar winners but no prize money. The creation of a national criterium series was seen as a way to address main elements that had been missing from the PRT and not ‘rubber-stamp’ the same model.

“There has always been confusion in the value of the PRT. The genesis of the series came about to fill the three things it needed: prize money, a story, and consistency of events,” Mike Weiss, event director for the Gateway Cup, which hosts the final criterium of the series.

“There’s a lot of emotions tied up in this. There will be growing pains in year one. It's not a lot of time, with promoters to focus on execution and a media platform in 60 days. It’s an opportunity to re-imagine racing in the US and make criteriums first-class citizens.”

Weiss tipped his cap to L39ION of Los Angeles as being one of the first teams to get involved with planning and were instrumental in landing the Harlem, NY criterium for the series, as well as races in Colorado and Utah. 

"We're excited to be back to racing and to be included in the inaugural year for this series," said Richard Cox, race director for the Harlem Skyscraper Cycling Classic. "Our event has been around since 1973, the second oldest bike race in the U.S., and to be recognized as one of the top criteriums in America is a great honor. We're looking forward to welcoming teams, racers, and spectators from across the country to Harlem in June."

Like the season finale at the four-day Gateway Cup (September 2-5), a total of six criteriums in the series are part of multiple-day events - Sunny King Criterium is part of the Alabama Cycling Classic (April 9-10), Saint Francis Tulsa Tough is a three-day event (June 10-12), Salt Lake City hosts two races (July 16-17), the Intelligentsia Cup holds nine races (July 22-31) and Momentum Indy is a two-day event (August 27-28).

USA Cycling committed to support the series on the media production side, Weiss said, which includes possibilities of a streaming product for all or part of 2022.

As for a title or presenting sponsor, “We don’t have the product to pitch yet, so no we have no assets to sell,” Weiss added. “We want to walk before we run.”

2022 series schedule:

  • April 9 - *Sunny King Criterium, Anniston, Alabama
  • May 21 - MVP Health Care Rochester Twilight Criterium, Rochester, NY
  • June 10 - *Day 1 of Saint Francis Tulsa Tough, Tulsa, Oklahoma
  • June 19 - Harlem Skyscraper Cycling Classic, Harlem, NY
  • July 9 - Bailey & Glasser LLP Twilight Criterium, Boise, Idaho
  • July 16 - *Salt Lake City Criterium, Salt Lake City, Utah
  • July 30 - *Lake Bluff Criterium at Intelligentsia Cup, Lake Bluff, Illinois
  • August 6 - Littleton Criterium, Littleton, Colorado
  • August 27 - *Day 1 of Momentum Indy, Indianapolis, Indiana
  • September 5 - *Day 4 of Bommarito Audi Gateway Cup, St. Louis, Missouri

*denotes multi-day event hosting one criterium in series

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Jackie Tyson
Jackie Tyson

Jackie has been involved in professional sports for more than 30 years in news reporting, sports marketing and public relations. She founded Peloton Sports in 1998, a sports marketing and public relations agency, which managed projects for Tour de Georgia, Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah and USA Cycling. She also founded Bike Alpharetta Inc, a Georgia non-profit to promote safe cycling. She is proud to have worked in professional baseball for six years - from selling advertising to pulling the tarp. She has climbed l'Alpe d'Huez three times (not fast). Her favorite road rides are around horse farms in north Georgia (USA) and around lavender fields in Provence (France), and some mtb rides in Park City, Utah (USA).