USA Cycling announced the seven races that will comprise its 2014 Professional Cross Country Tour (Pro XCT) calendar. At the end of the seven races, the top five men and women riders will be awarded an equal share of a $15,000 prize purse. This marks the first time USA Cycling has offered a prize purse to the winners of the Pro XCT.
Going into its sixth year, the Pro XCT features elite domestic cross country mountain bike races and crowns the top professional man, woman and team as calculated by season-long standings. The calendar boasts a line-up of races with high-level UCI categories.
Six races return as part of the Pro XCT in 2014: Bonelli Park, Fontana City, Mellow Johnny's Classic, Missoula XC, Subaru Cup and Catamount Classic. The first three races of the series are also part of the newly created USA Cycling US Cup Series presented by Sho-Air Cycling Group, along with a brand new race in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
The Mellow Johnny's Classic US Cup, scheduled for March 1 in Dripping Springs, Texas, has been on the Pro XCT calendar since 2011 and has been the first race on the annual calendar since 2012. This race is the first of four races on the Pro XCT calendar inscripted as C1 by the UCI. A pair of Australian riders, Daniel McConnell (Trek Factory Racing) and Rebecca Henderson (Trek Factory Racing) claimed the top steps of the men's and women's podiums last year.
For the fifth consecutive year, the Bonelli Park US Cup race will be part of the Pro XCT calendar on March 15. The 2014 edition has been inscripted as a UCI HC-category event, a first for an American race. In 2013, Jeremiah Bishop (Team Sho-Air-Cannondale) and Lesley Paterson (Scott Bikes) earned the wins.
The Fontana City US Cup, which has been inscripted by the UCI as C1 on March 23, race has been on the Pro XCT since the calendar's inception. A pair of athletes who represented the United States at the 2012 Olympic Games, Todd Wells (Specialized Racing) and Lea Davison (Specialized Racing), bested the men's and women's fields in last year's edition of the race.
Featuring a challenging course in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, inscripted by the UCI as C1, the Colorado Springs USA Cycling US Cup series race will occur on June 14.
The Missoula XC, which is the fourth race inscripted C1 by the UCI, is scheduled to be on June 21 for its fourth running. The 2014 edition includes a UCI Juniors World Series race. In 2013, Howard Grotts (Specialized Racing) topped the men's field in Montana while Pua Mata (Team Sho-Air-Cannondale) won the women's race.
The Subaru Cup - a staple of the Wisconsin Off-Road Series (WORS) - has been a mainstay on the Pro XCT calendar since 2010. The penultimate race on the Pro XCT calendar in 2014 has been classified by the UCI as a C1 contest and is scheduled be contested on July 12. The winners of the men's and women's races in 2013 would use that momentum to catapult them to the top spot of the final overall standings. Wells and Davison topped the men's and women's fields, respectively, in 2013.
The final race of the calendar, the Catamount Classic, is a UCI C2 race that is scheduled for July 26 in Williston, Vermont. The contest is held at a venue which was established in 1978 as a cross country ski center. With a race on the USA Cycling Professional Cyclo-cross Calendar (Pro CX), Catamount has emerged as a burgeoning cycling locale. Hometown hero Davison used her experience riding the Vermont trails to win the women's race this year, while Max Plaxton (Team Sho-Air-Cannondale) was fastest among the men's field.
"This year's Pro XCT calendar is certainly the richest, in terms of UCI points and prize money, that we've had in the United States in a long time," said USA Cycling President and CEO Steve Johnson. "As the Pro XCT calendar and the quality of the races on it continue to grow, North American mountain bike racers will continue to reap the benefits. Scott Tedro's extraordinary commitment to the USA Cycling US Cup Series presented by Sho-Air Cycling Group is a tremendous development for the sport."
In addition to Wells and Davison topping the men's and women's 2013 overall Pro XCT standings, respectively, the Specialized Racing team won the Pro XCT calendar team standings. In contrast to 2013, the 2014 Pro XCT will feature two fewer rounds. The Bump and Grind in Alabama has not been included and Windham, New York will host a World Cup instead of a stop on the national series.
2014 Pro XCT
March 1: Round 1 - Mellow Johnny's Classic, Dripping Springs, Texas (C1)
March 15: Round 2 - Bonelli Park, California (HC)
March 23: Round 3 - Fontana City, California (C1)
June 14: Round 4 - Colorado Springs, Colorado (C1)
June 21: Round 5 - Missoula XC, Montana (C1)
July 12: Round 6 - Subaru Cup, Wisconsin (C1)
July 26: Round 7 - Catamount Classic, Vermont (C2)