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US championship to stay in December, for now

Medals and jerseys await the new champions.

Medals and jerseys await the new champions. (Image credit: Maurice Hessel)

Rumors of a plan to move the US cyclo-cross championships to January by 2011 may be premature, Cyclingnews learned this week. The sport's governing body in the USA announced last week that the championships will remain in December in 2009, but rumors abounded in Kansas City that the date would be pushed back to January, in line with the rest of the 'cross world, for the 2010-2011 season.

USA Cycling's Andrea Smith denied that such a plan was in the works. She said that the UCI regulations state that national championships take place in January, but that the United States has received an exception to that rule.

Cyclo-cross race promoters see a move to January as a way to extend the US season, which, except for some small local races, ends after nationals. This year 39 events in the US gained UCI status with two more across the border in Canada, and overlapping dates have hurt attendance at some races.

US Gran Prix of Cyclo-cross organizer Joan Hanscom said the topic came up at the meeting of UCI race promoters in Kansas City on Friday night. "Steve Johnson canvassed the group to see how we all felt about moving Nat's to a January date and the response was very positive. The general thinking in the room was that it could open up some additional dates on the calendar - which is already getting too crowded with conflicting events. While certainly not a done deal it is something that is being given serious consideration."

But riders like Katie Compton, who split their time between Europe and the USA, are uncertain as to the benefits of a January championship.

"It's a hard choice to make whether to move nat's to January or leave them in December," said Compton. "Either way, I have to come back to the US for the race whether that is in December or in January. It all depends on how the World Cup schedule is. I actually like having our nationals out of the way so once January is here, I can focus on worlds.

"Having nationals [in December] will let people know earlier whether they qualified for worlds or not. I do see the benefits of having nationals in January and would be happy to see the US 'cross season last a little longer, but it is hard for all the non-elite categories to continue to train through the holidays and also spend the money to travel afterwards."

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Laura Weislo has been with Cyclingnews since 2006 after making a switch from a career in science. As Deputy Editor, she coordinates coverage for North American events and global news. A former elite-level road racer who dabbled in cyclo-cross and track, Laura has a passion for all three disciplines. When not working she likes to go camping and explore lesser traveled roads, paths and gravel tracks.