New US national downhill series unveiled

Gravity racers in the US have a new national-level series of races to contest this year after USA Cycling announced its Pro Mountain Bike Gravity Tour (ProGRT). Five events, including three UCI-sanctioned races, throughout the United States will provide world-class athletes with a consistent stage to showcase their downhill and four cross skills.

Beginning in May, the ProGRT will visit four states and offer series ranking points to top finishers, resulting in overall individual titles for men and women. In addition, competitors will also have the opportunity to accumulate international ranking points as three of the five races are inscripted on the UCI calendar.

The series opens with the downhill contest at the Fluidride Cup in Port Angeles, Washington on May 1-3 and then heads south to the Chile Challenge in New Mexico where both the downhill and four cross contests will be a part of the ProGRT. The tour picks back up on August 8 with both the downhill and four cross at the Blast the Mass in Snowmass, Colorado. The following weekend, the ProGRT moves east to the Yankee Clipper at Windham Mountain, New York, the only race on both the Pro Cross Country Tour (ProXCT) and ProGRT. Wrapping up the tour will be the Whiteface 5K Downhill in Wilmington, New York on August 29.

"The Whiteface Mountain Bike Park is honored to be part of the Pro Gravity Tour. Five of the premier venues in the U.S. have been chosen for this historical series that will surely last for generations," said Downhill Mike, promoter of the Whiteface 5K Downhill. "It is only fitting to be the last race on the tour with our eight-minute downhill track as racers should be in their best condition of the season by late August.

"The Lake Placid - Whiteface region has hosted two Winter Olympics (1932 & 1980) and has attracted numerous top athletes of all kinds ever since. The time has now come to bring a new breed of world class athletes to Whiteface Mountain and Lake Placid. Welcome Pro Gravity Tour."

The objectives of the inaugural USA Cycling Pro GRT are to provide a sequence of international-caliber events for elite gravity racers, to recognize the best gravity athletes competing on American soil, to spotlight America's top races that have made a commitment to host high-level events and ultimately to raise the level of competitive gravity racing in the U.S.

"With the development of the ProGRT we were looking to showcase the country's strongest gravity venues," said USA Cycling Mountain Bike Events and Program Director Kelli Lusk. "We want to bring the elite riders together to compete against the best on the country's top courses and ultimately crown the season's preeminent gravity riders."

2009 USA Cycling Pro Gravity MTB Tour (Pro GRT)
May 1-3: Fluidride Cup - Port Angeles, Washington (DHI) (NE)
May 23-25: Chile Challenge - Angel Fire, New Mexico (DHI/4X)(2)
August 8-9: Blast the Mass - Snowmass, Colorado (DHI/4X)(2)
August 15-16: Yankee Clipper at Windham Mountain, Windham, New York (DHI/4X)(1)
August 29: Whiteface 5K, Wilmington, New York, (DHI) (NE)

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