Just when the US Pro XCT calendar seemed to be finalized, the six-race national-level series shrunk to a five-race series on Wednesday. The Bump 'n' Grind, in Birmingham, Alabama, which was to be round four on June 5, decided not to pursue UCI categorization, and because all US Pro XCT series events must be UCI-sanctioned, the race will no longer be part of the Pro XCT series in 2010.
"It was a surprise to me. It's not the end of the world, though, as the calendar is really packed," said USA Cycling's Mountain Bike & Cyclo-cross Director for athletics, Marc Gullickson to Cyclingnews, referring to the compilation of six World Cups, five US Pro XCT races, three Triple Crown events and the US National Championships that many of America's top cross country pros will attend throughout the season. "It's still going to be a great series."
The US Pro XCT has undergone several evolutions in the past three months. Originally slated for six rounds, the 2010 series was headed into its second year under the guidance of then-organizers the US Cup, who had licensed the series from USA Cycling.
In early December, the US Cup stepped down from its series organizing role, leaving USA Cycling with full responsibility for the series. Even with the two organizations seemingly headed in different directions, the US Cup agreed to maintain its UCI-categorized Fontana round as the season opener for what then became a four-round US Pro XCT. At the same time, the US Cup announced a new three-round, non-UCI sanctioned Triple Crown series designed to offer pros more prize money and additional opportunities to race.
In early January, USA Cycling added two more events to the US Pro XCT - the Mellow Johnny's Classic and the Sea Otter Classic - taking the total briefly back to six rounds.
USA Cycling's Mountain Bike & Cyclo-cross Events Director Kelli Lusk said that the Bump 'N Grind race is still going to occur on its scheduled date although it will be run without UCI points and therefore with no US Pro XCT affiliation. The race may instead be part of the National Mountain Bike Calendar or the American Mountain Bike Calendar (AMBC) - two other USA Cycling series that do not require races to be UCI-categorized.
"There will be a few less UCI points available in the States, and the East Coast will not be represented in the series. The latter is a bigger concern. Every year, there will always be some area that's left out," said Gullickson to Cyclingnews of the consequences of the news. In 2009, Windham, New York, and Mount Snow, Vermont, both hosted rounds of the US Pro XCT.
The East Coast will still host some top racing since Windham has stepped up to host a round of the UCI World Cup in August.
"I'm sure we'll make getting to the East Coast with the US Pro XCT a priority next year. At this stage, I think it's too late to submit a new race to the UCI. I don't think it's likely we can add another race this year," he said.
Organizers of the Bump 'n Grind have not yet been reached for comment.
2010 USA Cycling Pro Cross Country Mountain Bike Tour (Revised as of January 13)
March 27: US Cup Fontana - Fontana, California (C1)
April 18: Sea Otter Classic - Monterey, California (C1)
May 29: Mellow Johnny’s Classic - Dripping Springs, Texas (C2)
June 26: Subaru Cup - Mt. Morris, Wisconsin (C2)
July 10: Carmichael Training Systems International Classic - Colorado Springs, Colorado (C2)
Stay tuned for an in-depth article on the US Pro XCT series coming soon on Cyclingnews.
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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.