US cyclo-cross stalwart Jingle Cross cancelled after UCI designation disappears

 UCI Cyclo-cross World Cup in Iowa City, men's elite race 2021
UCI Cyclo-cross World Cup in Iowa City, men's elite race 2021 (Image credit: SnowyMountain Photography)

The popular Iowa cyclo-cross races at Jingle Cross, which started 18 years ago, will not run in 2022. After hosting UCI-sanctioned cyclo-cross races since 2007, including five World Cup events since 2016, John Meehan, event founder and race director, announced he has pulled the plug on the event for this year, which had been scheduled for October 14-16.

The web site for the event, which was also a key part of the USCX series, is still operational and is now dedicated to Jingle GX Gravel, a weekend of off-road cycling events in Amana, Iowa, with the August 6 headliner race set as one of 12 events on the Trek UCI Gravel World Series calendar. The inaugural Jingle GX is one of two US gravel races on the global series, following Highlands Gravel Classic in Fayetteville, Arkansas on June 25.

The demise of the three-day Jingle Cross cyclo-cross festival began in February when Meehan said the UCI created a conflict on the 2022-2023 calendar by overlapping the second World Cup race in the US, World Cup Fayetteville on October 16, with the Iowa City dates, which included C1 races on Friday, October 14 followed by two sets of C2 races the next two days. 

“As per the usual routine, all US promoters got together with USA Cycling and collaborated to create the US calendar. Jingle Cross was given the weekend of October 14-16 for a C1-C2-C2 weekend over 3 days. No other UCI events were on that weekend in North America at that time,” Meehan wrote in a post on the Bike Iowa web site.

“A few weeks later, and more than 2 months past the typical world cup deadline, the UCI awarded a nearby UCI World Cup on the same weekend. No advance notice was given. Initially, both events were on the UCI calendar. Jingle Cross disappeared from the UCI’s calendar a few days later without notice. Attempts to reschedule were unsuccessful. In summary, we regret to inform you Jingle Cross is cancelled.”

Meehan said in his statement that Jingle Cross did not pursue a World Cup for the upcoming cyclo-cross season and had informed both the UCI and Flanders Classics, which organises the World Cup series, in the fall. 

Last season, Fayetteville, Arkansas jumped into the foray of international cyclo-cross racing by hosting a mid-week World Cup event in October, held a few days prior to Jingle Cross, and then the UCI Cyclo-cross World Championships in January. Fayetteville received high marks for the well-groomed, cyclo-cross-specific race course and large crowds. 

When asked if Fayetteville would add other races to its World Cup event in October, Hazel Hernandez of Experience Fayetteville said, “At this time, we are planning to create additional race opportunities but cannot confirm at this time what those will be or whether we will be a part of any additional series.”

After reaching out to both Meehan and Scott Page, co-founders and co-owners of the USCX series, Cyclingnews learned that plans are underway to fill the absence in the series left by the cancellation of Jingle Cross.

“I have a replacement for Jingle Cross,” said Page, who operates Rochester Cyclocross in New York. “The USCX Series and its schedule of events will be confirmed next week.”

Jingle Cross, Inc, a non-profit that operates the cyclo-cross races and festival in Iowa, was only pursing C1 and C2-inscripted races as they wanted to continue as part of the domestic scene and the USCX series.

“We were excited to pursue our USCX series, a globally televised US based series we, at Jingle Cross and our good friends at Rochester CX, arranged with GCN to stream around the world over a 4-year period," said Meehan. "We invite two other US events to join us each year for an exciting 4 venue, 8-9 race series.”

The October event had been slated to return to the USCX series, launched last year with eight pro races at four venues in New York, Maryland, Iowa and Ohio. Caroline Mani won the pro women’s individual title and Kerry Werner won the pro men’s competition.

“As the Jingle Cross founder and race director, I am very proud of everything Jingle Cross has accomplished over the past 18 years. Over that time span, we brought you nearly 30 C2’s, a dozen C1’s, 5 World Cups and hundreds of amateur races for riders of all ages and abilities. We set the bar high for event promotion, quality, and organization. We created a unique and fun experience for people of all ages and abilities. The Jingle Cross brand became globally recognized and will be forever remembered as an exciting and challenging event with world class hospitality and amazing entertainment,” Meehan stated.

Jingle Cross began as a single-day cyclo-cross race in 2004, first delivering UCI classified events in 2007 and expanding to a multiple-day festival in 2009. Because it was held near the end of December, a Christmas theme became a signature for the event with holiday lights on courses and naming a climb Mt. Krumpit from the Dr. Seuss story. When the event moved to September in 2016 to accommodate its first World Cup event, the holiday theme continued. 

The Jingle Cross organisation will continue as a 501 (c) 3 non-profit charity, which generates publicity and funds for University of Iowa's Stead Family Children's Hospital as the primary beneficiary. Jingle GX Gravel and the weekend of events in August will have a German “biketoberfest” theme, according to Jingle Cross organisers. 

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