The 2016 US Professional Mountain Bike Cross-Country Tour (Pro XCT) will include nine races and start March 12 in California, according to a schedule that USA Cycling released on Wednesday. The Pro XCT, which runs through mid-August, will also visit Montana, New Mexico, Wisconsin, Massachusetts and New York.
The seven-race Pro Gravity Tour (Pro GRT) will start May 7 in Washington and conclude September 17 in California after stops in New Jersey, New Mexico, Vermont, New York and West Virginia.
Micah Rice, USA Cycling’s vice president of national events, said the two "world-class" calendars will be even better in 2016. “As next year will feature new events and the US Cup Pro Series enters its third year, we look forward to showcasing the best in the world with these two series," he said.
2016 Pro XCT calendar:
Bonelli XC #1 – San Dimas, Calif. March 12 - C3
Fontana XC – Fontana, Calif. April 2 - C3
Bonelli XC #2 (U.S. Cup) – San Dimas, Calif. April 9 - HC
Sea Otter Classic (U.S. Cup) – Monterey, Calif. April 16 - HC
Missoula XC (U.S. Cup) – Missoula, Mont. June 18 - HC
Chile Challenge – Angel Fire, N.M. June 23-26 - C1
WORS Cup – Portage, Wis. July 23 - C1
Boston Rebellion XC (U.S. Cup) – Walpole, Mass. July 30 - HC
Windham Pro XCT – Windham, N.Y. August 13-14 - HC
2016 Pro GRT calendar:
NW Cup – Port Angeles, Wash. May 7-8 - C2
Mountain Creek Spring Classic – Vernon, N.J. May 20-22 - C2
Chile Challenge – Angel Fire, N.M. June 23-26 - C2
Beast of the East – Killington, Vt. July 28-31 - C2
Windham Pro GRT – Windham, N.Y. August 13-14 - HC
Snowshoe Wild Hare – Snowshoe, W. Va. August 21 - C2
Kamikaze Bike Games – Mammoth Lakes, Calif. September 17 - C2
Lotto Soudal Ladies reflect on 2015, welcome riders for 2016
The Lotto Soudal Ladies team have announced several changes to its 2016 roster after a season the management saw promise from its riders and have acted to reinforce the strengthen to pursue more wins. The team enjoyed just three wins in 2015 with Anisha Vekemans winning a stage at the Trophée d'Or Féminin and Elena Cecchini defending her Italian national title along with claiming a stage at Festival Elsy Jacobs.
"It was a huge loss for us that Jolien D’hoore left the team. Before the season started I told the riders this would be a transition year, with a lot of young riders in the team. Still, we had a good season, with a lot of great results, although it would have been nice to win more. Our riders often animated the races, but couldn’t always finish it off. There was a fantastic team spirit, the girls were really close," said head of the team's sport department Dany Schoonbaert.
One of the team's stand out riders this season, Cecchini, will leave the team but in her place join several versatile riders as it looks to increase its win count for 2016.
"Unfortunately, Elena won’t be riding for our team anymore next year," Schoonbaert said. "We already looked for some reinforcement. Claudia Lichtenberg will join the team. Her teammate Willeke Knol has signed with us as well, she already worked for Claudia in their current team [Liv Plantur, ed]. Claudia is a GC rider and has to make sure we play a role in international stage races. We are also pleased that Sofie De Vuyst will come to our team, she’s a rider for different terrains.
"With Lotte Kopecky we get to welcome another Belgian rider in the team. Elise Delzenne, who we will ride for our team as well, is known for her aggressive style of racing. This is all promising for next year."
The team have also seen Sarah Rijkes (Lares-Waowdeals), Jesse Vandenbulcke (Lares-Waowdeals), Carlee Taylor (Liv Plantur) and Marion Rousse (Retires) depart.
Belgium pulls the pin on Olympic Games team pursuit ambitions
With qualification for the Rio Olympic Games in the team pursuit becoming almost impossible after the men's team failed to make any of the finals in the first round of the Track World Cup in Cali, Colombia, Belgium will not field squads at the remaining two World Cups or the World Championships. Kenny De Ketele, Jasper De Buyst, Gijs Van Hoecke, Moreno De Pauw and Jonathan Dufrasne made up the Belgian team pursuit squad.
Mathematically it is still possible but then all miracles have to happen," national co-ordinator Koen Beeckman told Sporza. "We'd have to ride times we have never done and that's just not possible. Miracles do not exist in sport. The chance is so incredibly small that we will not even try. It's game over. This project has no chance of success."
Director Jos Smet added that while disappointed there are other events the Belgian riders can qualify for and race in Rio.
"It is regrettable that we did not qualify, and the project will be properly evaluated," said Smets. "But the track story is not over. There are many other options in Rio and at Worlds."
Pro-Continental team for Brazil
In 2016 Brazil will have a Pro-Continental with Carrefour Funvic Soul Cycling Team moving up from Continental status with the support of two new sponsors, French supermarket chain,Carrefour, and Brazilian bicycle company Soul Cycles. The team's biggest success this season was Dani Diaz winning two stages on the way to overall victory at the 2015 Tour de San Luis.
"This achievement was made possible through a partnership between the team and the entrepreneur João Paulo Diniz, who in recent years has given us great support. Our goals were common and, therefore, we align everything to ensure the procurement of this license," said team manager Benedito Tadeu Azevedo Júnior. "After a few years at Continental level, being the only Brazilian team to appear at Pro Continental level in Latin America is a source of great pride for all of us involved with cycling. It is a sign that we are on a right path, increasingly looking to popularise and professionalise cycling in Brazil."
With its status as Pro-Continental assured for 2016, the team will look to strengthen its roster, apply for races and reveal its full list of sponsors.
Daniel Diaz (Funvic Basilinvest) wins stage 2 of the 2015 Tour de San Luis on Mirador de Potrero (Bettini Photo)