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NACT and VERGE cyclo-cross series face suspension from UCI

Adam Myerson (Cycle-Smart), right, leads U-23 Verge series leader Luke Keough (Team Champion System).

Adam Myerson (Cycle-Smart), right, leads U-23 Verge series leader Luke Keough (Team Champion System). (Image credit: Natalia McKittrick, Pedal Power Photography, 2009)

The North American Cyclo-cross Trophy Series (NACT) and the Verge New England Championships Cyclo-cross Series (NECCS) are facing suspension for not following an obscure and previously unenforced International Cycling Union (UCI) rule.

Adam Myerson, the NECCS promoter and former member of the UCI Cross Commission and Brook Watts, the promoter of Cross Vegas the race director for the NACT series this year, were caught by surprise by the ruling. The rule (1.2.026) requires each series to apply for UCI inscription, but was housed in the general rules of cycling and not in the cyclo-cross specific document, and to their knowledge has never before been enforced.

"Kelli Lusk of USA Cycling informed us yesterday as soon as she got the notice from Peter Van den Abeele [the UCI's Cyclo-cross Technical Director -ed.] by email," Myerson said. "I was given one sentence that said these series were banned. They said they would make an exception and allow the individual races to continue but the series were banned."

With the compromise, the ten races in the NECCS series, those in Green Mountain, New Gloucester, Northampton, Sterling and Warwick as well as the NACT races in Washington, Gloucester and Boulder can continue, but it leaves the USGP as the sole remaining national series consisting of UCI races.

"The ban is already done and now I have to try and reverse it," he added. "I’m hoping to have a reasonable conversation with the UCI and I can’t imagine that after taking with Peter that he wouldn’t understand how exceptional this punishment is. Just give us a warning because we were not doing this to get away with something."

The newly-enforced rule does not explicitly name cyclo-cross series as falling under the code, and only one North American series, the US Gran Prix of Cyclo-cross, specifically applied for UCI inscription.

The code reads, "National federations, their affiliates and license holders and, in general, all bodies answerable to them shall be barred from participating actively or passively in any individual or team classification based on the races on the international calendar other than those drawn up or expressly authorised by the UCI. Events conducted by an organiser who fails to comply with the preceding paragraph shall be deleted from the international calendar for the following year."

The code’s text was modified on August 1, 2000 and January 1, 2005. An additional change to the code was made on July 1, 2010 that requires the presence of a UCI technical delegate during the series.

Watts and Myerson were unaware of the code until last month when USA Cycling sent a notice of inscription outlining the rules and required information for the 2011-2012 UCI Cyclo-cross season. The notice asked organizers seeking UCI series status to send the necessary information about the series to USA Cycling before the UCI’s inscription deadline on December 5.

The rules state that any series requiring UCI inscription must apply for series status, a UCI technical delegate to be present at the events and each UCI series must include a maximum of eight UCI sanctioned events. Myerson said that he was ready to comply with the rule for next season, but was informed yesterday that his series had been banned.

"I won’t point fingers at the UCI or USA Cycling because I think they are doing 99.9 percent of things right," Watts said. "But, I was unaware that the rule existed. They are penalizing us for something that we didn’t even know existed over a rule that has been overlooked since its has existed. Not only that, they are penalizing two series when there are other series out there made up of UCI races."

"I think it’s important that there is a procedure where series throughout the world are organized and my mantra has always been about course standards," he added. "We were unaware that the UCI series rule would be enforced in the US. We recently received a new set of guidelines of things to consider for this year. This is the first year that we were told that the series rule would be enforced."

USA Cycling’s Press Officer, Andrea Smith responded to the situation by stating, "Kelli [Lusk] is speaking with the UCI today and we are working to come up with the best solution for everybody right now. Hopefully we come up with a good solution because it was an unfortunate situation with some miscommunication."

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Kirsten Frattini is an honours graduate of Kinesiology and Health Science from York University in Toronto, Canada. She has been involved in cycling from the community and grassroots level to professional cycling's WorldTour. She has worked in both print and digital publishing, and started with Cyclingnews as a North American Correspondent in 2006. Moving into a Production Editor's role in 2014, she produces and publishes international race coverage for all men's and women's races including Spring Classics, Grand Tours, World Championships and Olympic Games, and writes and edits news and features. As the Women's Editor at Cyclingnews, Kirsten also coordinates and oversees the global coverage of races, news, features and podcasts about women's professional cycling.