The 2012 USA CRITS Championship Series returns for its sixth year, encompassing 11 top-shelf criteriums throughout the country and offering $50,000 in overall prize money.
This year the series welcomes four new events to its race line-up including the 2012 kickoff - the inaugural Delray Beach Twilight Festival on March 10 in Delray Beach, Florida.
"We're beyond excited," said Delray Beach Twilight Festival race director Chelsea Midlarsky. "Since we're a first year event, it's an honor to kick off the series. We have a great one-kilometre course that will go through our prime shopping and restaurant district during our high tourist season. It's going to be a great way to introduce cycling to a lot of people who don't know the sport."
From Delray Beach, the series continues with another new event one week later on March 17 - the Athlete Octane Old Pueblo Grand Prix in Tucson, Arizona. The Presbyterian Invitational Criterium in Charlotte, North Carolina is the third stop on the USA CRITS schedule, taking place this year in April instead of July.
America's most beloved criterium follows Charlotte, when professional cycling returns to downtown Athens, Georgia for the 33rd Terrapin Twilight Criterium. The series then heads north to St. Louis for the return of the Tour de Grove, to be followed by another brand new USA CRITS event - The Lake Bluff Twilight Criterium just outside of Chicago.
Also returning to the USA CRITS fold this year is the Rockstar Games Harlem Skyscraper Cycling Classic in New York City. Cincinnati, Ohio's Hyde Park Blast is stop number eight followed a week later by the Iron Hill Twilight Criterium in West Chester, Pennsylvania.
The racing then shifts to the western part of the country with the return of the Exergy Twilight Criterium in Boise, Idaho, before wrapping up with the USA CRITS Finals held in Vail, Colorado.
"We're excited to be a part of the USA CRITS Series this year," said Tour of Vail race director Dieter Drake, who also organizes the Tour of the Battenkill. "We've been working for over a year to bring back the magic of the old Coors Classic to Vail. It's an excellent venue for such a prestigious series final and we hope our weekend-long professional and amateur event will be an attractive destination for racers and spectators."
In addition to separate cash awarded at each event, men and women riders in the USA CRITS Series accrue points towards individual and team classifications. The series' points leaders will don the orange jersey of the overall leader following each event, with the final winners crowned in Vail taking home the overall purse.
Luke Keough (Team Mountain Khakis p/b SmartStop) and Erica Allar (RideClean presented by Patentit.com) won the men's and women's individual overall titles in 2011, while Team Mountain Khakis p/b SmartStop and Colavita/Forno d'Asolo p/b Cooking Light claimed their respective men's and women's team classifications.
While the USA CRITS Series traverses the nation, cycling fans the world over will be able to enjoy all of the action from stop to stop with live streaming coverage provided by Inside Cycling TV.
Visit USACRITS.com for all the latest information regarding the 2012 series throughout the season.
2012 USA CRITS Championship Series
March 10: Delray Beach Twilight, Delray Beach, FL
March 17: Athlete Octane Old Pueblo Grand Prix, Tucson, AZ
April 14: Presbyterian Invitational Criterium in Charlotte, NC
April 28: Terrapin Twilight Criterium, Athens, GA
May 12: Tour de Grove, St. Louis, MO
June 1: Lake Bluff Twilight Criterium, Lake Bluff, IL
June 19: Harlem Skyscraper Cycling Classic, New York, NY
June 30: Hyde Park Blast, Cincinnati, OH
July 7: Iron Hill Twilight Criterium. West Chester, PA
July 14: Exergy Twilight Criterium, Boise, ID
September 30: Tour of Vail, Vail, CO