The USA Cycling Pro Cross Country Tour (US Pro XCT) has added two events for its 2010 edition, bringing the total to six rounds. The Sea Otter Classic and the Mellow Johnny's Classic joins the only American series of UCI-sanctioned events.
"The 2010 Pro XCT will provide one of the best calendars of quality UCI mountain bike races we've had in many years," said USA Cycling CEO Steve Johnson. "We are committed to our long-stated goals of providing athletes with consistent top-level competition opportunities, increasing exposure for mountain biking domestically and maximizing US start spots at the sport's highest stages; and the Pro XCT national calendar provides a sustainable platform to help accomplish these goals."
Following the series kick-off at Fontana, the Sea Otter Classic will serve as the second stop. Sea Otter's elite/pro men's and women's mountain bike races on April 18 will operate at the UCI C1 level, offering maximum ranking points to top riders.
The Pro XCT will then move south to Lance Armstrong's ranch in Dripping Springs, Texas, for the Mellow Johnny's Classic on May 29. The first edition of the race was run in the fall, on short notice, and 2010 will be the first time the race is run in this spring slot.
The series then continues at the Bump 'N Grind in Birmingham, Alabama, on June 5, the Subaru Cup in Mt. Morris, Wisconsin, on June 26 and the series finale in Colorado Springs, Colorado, on July 10.
The UCI points up for grabs at each Pro XCT event are important to the process of qualifying Americans for mountain biking start spots for the 2012 Olympic Games in London, as well as determining the start order at the UCI Mountain Bike World Championships. The men's and women's overall Pro XCT champions will also automatically qualify a spot on the US squad for the UCI Mountain Bike World Championships.
In addition to providing a sequence of international-caliber events where elite cross country racers can earn UCI points, the USA Cycling Pro XCT will spotlight top American races and recognize the best cross country teams and athletes competing on US soil. In order for individual riders or teams to earn points toward the overall Pro XCT titles, they must be registered as a UCI Trade Team or as a USA Cycling Mountain Bike Domestic Pro Team. The Pro XCT will provide leaders' jerseys to the top male and female rider in the overall standings, leaders' number plates and a guaranteed cash purse for each race.
The news comes after the US Pro XCT shrank in size following the withdrawal of former organizers, the US Cup, in mid-December. At first, the Pro XCT series seemed to be left with just three events; then US Cup organizers agreed to include the Fontana race, with UCI-sanctioning. In the interim, the US Cup has set up its own national-level series, a three-race Triple Crown that will offer significant prize money to pros as well as support amateur, grassroots racing.
2010 USA Cycling Pro Cross Country Mountain Bike Tour (Revised)
March 27: US Cup Fontana - Fontana, California
April 18: Sea Otter Classic - Monterey, California
May 29: Mellow Johnny’s Classic - Dripping Springs, Texas
June 5: Bump 'N Grind - Birmingham, Alabama
June 26: Subaru Cup - Mt. Morris, Wisconsin
July 10: Carmichael Training Systems International Classic - Colorado Springs, Colorado
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Sue George is an editor at Cyclingnews. She coordinates all of the site's mountain bike race coverage and assists with the road, 'cross and track coverage.