The organisers of the USA CRITS series of elite criteriums named nine host cities for the 2021 edition, with the bulk of racing shifting to July, August and September as hopes that the new COVID-19 vaccine will end the pandemic that shuttered the 2020 season.
The new calendar puts the historic Athens Twilight Criterium - typically held in April - on August 21 around the first day of classes for the University of Georgia. Other major changes include a shift of the Birmingham Hammerfest in Alabama to August 14 and the Winston Salem Classic from May to September 24, with a second day of racing added on September 25 for international teams in addition to the Winston Salem Classic road race the next day.
The Spartanburg Criterium is tentatively scheduled for April 23 but has a back-up date of August 20 in case the COVID-19 situation prevents the earlier date. The Sun City Criterium in El Paso, Texas - one of the cities hardest hit by the pandemic - has been shifted to September 11.
The ambitious plans of USA CRITS include a two-day race event in Utah on July 17-18, with host cities Salt Lake City and Holladay.
Boise, Idaho's ASWD Twilight Criterium on July 10 complements the Para-cycling Road National Championships and the Chrono Kristin Armstrong TT, while Tulsa Tough remains in its normal date, with the USA CRITS event held on the Blue Dome course on June 11.
The Littleton Twilight Criterium completes the calendar on July 31 with a possible second day of racing in the works.
Organisers plan to have live streaming of the events free of charge for all viewers. "We want the world to see our D1 teams race and expand promotion of the venues and partners helping grow the sport," Scott Morris, Managing Director says. "This represents a $250,000 investment made possible by our partners and comprises nearly 80 per cent of all road events streamed in America. We have been in discussions with a couple of international media partners. This year is the bridge to pulling those agreements together."
The shift of the USA Crits races could signal a larger rescheduling of the USA Cycling Pro Road calendar. The Joe Martin Stage Race and Tour of the Gila are currently scheduled in their usual slot in April and early May on the UCI calendar, but the Tour of the Gila is aiming for a September 29-October 3 date.
"We can't say enough about how our venues expanding their events, teams staying together despite not racing, and sponsors sticking with us during these challenging times has helped motivate our efforts. It hasn't been easy at any level, but we know the teams are ready to race and the venues are looking forward to the show returning," added Morris.
USA CRITS says it will continue to monitor the impacts of the pandemic and "make changes that are in the health and safety interest of the athletes and communities".
The 2019 USA CRITS winners were Tom Gibbons (then-Automatic Racing) and Starla Teddergreen (then-Hagens Berman Supermint), with Colavita/Bialetti (now Colavita HelloFresh) taking out the women's team standings and ButcherBox cycling winning the men's. Both teams are expected to be part of 22 D1 teams that will compete in the series.
2021 USA CRITS schedule
|1||Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System Criterium||April 23rd||Spartanburg, SC|
|2||Saint Francis Tulsa Tough||June 11th||Tulsa, OK|
|3||ASWD Twilight Criterium||July 10th||Boise, ID|
|4||Salt Lake Criterium - Gateway||July 17th||Salt Lake City, UT|
|5||Salt Lake Criterium - Holladay||July 18th||Holladay, UT|
|6||Audi Denver Littleton Twilight Criterium||July 31st||Littleton, CO|
|7||Birmingham Hammerfest Fueled by BOLT24||August 14th||Birmingham, AL|
|8||AOC Twilight Criterium||August 21st||Athens, GA|
|9||Sun City Crit||September 11th||El Paso, TX|
|10||Winston-Salem Cycling Classic - USA CRITS Finals||September 24th||Winston Salem, NC|
|11||Winston-Salem Cycling Classic International Crit Challenge||September 25th||Winston Salem, NC|
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