USA Cycling rolled out a pared down national calendar, known as the Pro Road Tour (PRT), for the 2017 season today. The series, which offers a mix of UCI-ranked stage races, non-UCI stage races and criteriums has been reduced significantly from this year's calendar.
Micah Rice, USA Cycling's Vice President of National Events, explained why the racing has been reduced from 25 events to just 20 next year.
"There has been a big push to try to create a better travel flow for the teams, and to eliminate conflicts in the schedule. Next year we will have no overlapping events," Rice said to Cyclingnews.
Teams complained last year of the untenable travel on the calendar, which had riders crisscrossing the country several times, going from Redlands in California to the criterium and team time trial national championships in South Carolina, back to Tour of California and then back to North Carolina for pro road nationals.
"We have had input from the Pro Road Committee and various teams, athletes and race directors, including a sit-down meeting in May, and we feel that this lineup of events is an excellent step in the second year of the Pro Road Tour," Rice said in a USA Cycling press release. "We had a great first year of the PRT last year, and we feel that 2017 will allow for some excellent racing."
In 2017, the calendar will start with the Joe Martin Stage Race in Arkansas, which was bumped up to the end of March, then heads to Alabama for Sunny King. There is a 10-day break before the racing resumes in New Mexico at the Tour of the Gila in April, then a block of racing in California in May: the Dana Point GP leads into the Redlands Classic and Tour of California. While the men's and women's Tours of California do not count for points in the Pro Road Tour next season, there will be no races overlapping with them.
The calendar then heads east for the Winston-Salem Classic and Philadelphia International Classic, followed by Tulsa Tough in Oklahoma, North Star GP in Minnesota to prepare riders for the pro road and TTT/Criterium nationals in Tennessee and Kentucky, respectively, in late June. The championships do not count toward the PRT overall.
"There are some really good events that were left off," he said. Those include long-time national calendar events such as the Charlotte Criterium, Wilmington Grand Prix, Air Force Cycling Classic, Tour of America's Dairyland and Chris Thater Memorial criterium.
It adds in three new UCI events in July and August - the Tour of Colorado, a four-day 2.HC-ranked stage race, the Tour of the Commonwealth in Virginia, a four-day 2.1-ranked stage race, both in August, and the GP Kristin Armstrong Time Trial in the three-time Olympic champion's home of Boise.
Teams get a week to head from Cascade Classic to Tour of Utah before the Tour of Colorado, then head east for the Rochester Criterium and Tour of the Commonwealth, then on to St. Louis for the Gateway Cup omnium. The Redding 120, Doylestown Criterium and TD Bank Mayor's Cup conclude the calendar.
"It's more balanced," Rice said. "In the past we've had a lot of criteriums. Next year we have a mix of the bigger international stage races, domestic stage races, omniums and criterium weekends."
Rice said that USA Cycling is still working on the points structure for the Pro Road Tour, saying they will be taking a hard look at them and consulting with race directors before making any changes.
"The intent is to have a points structure where an all-around rider is in the hunt for the overall. We don't want someone to win the big UCI races overall and then the criterium riders can't catch them. We want a balance and to keep interest in the calendar to the end of the year."
2017 USA Cycling Pro Road Tour
Mar. 30-Apr. 2 - Joe Martin Stage Race p/b Nature Valley - Fayetteville, AR - UCI 2.2 M+W
Apr. 8-9 - Sunny King Omnium - Anniston, AL - M+W
Apr. 19-23 - Tour of the Gila - Silver City, NM - UCI 2.2 M+W
Apr. 30 - Dana Point Grand Prix of Cycling - Dana Point, CA - M+W
May 3-7 - Redlands Bicycle Classic - Redlands, CA - M+W
May. 11-14 - Amgen Tour of California (women) - California - Women's WT (No PRT points)
May. 14-21 - Amgen Tour of California (men) - California - Men's WT (No PRT points)
May. 28-29 - Winston-Salem Classic Criterium and Road Race - Winston-Salem, NC - M+W/UCI 1.1 M+W
Jun. 4 - Philadelphia International Cycling Classic - Philadelphia, PA - Women's WT (No PRT points)
Jun. 4 - Philadelphia International Cycling Classic - Philadelphia, PA - UCI 1.1 men
Jun. 9-11 - Saint Francis Tulsa Tough - Tulsa, OK - M+W
Jun. 14-18 - North Star Grand Prix - Minneapolis, MN - M+W
Jun. 23 - USAC Pro TT National Championship - Knoxville, TN - (No PRT points)
Jun. 25 - USAC Pro Road National Championship - Knoxville, TN - (No PRT points)
Jun. 30 - USAC Team Time Trial National Championship - Louisville, KY - (No PRT points)
July. 2 - USAC Pro Criterium National Championship - Louisville, KY - (No points)
Jul. 14 - Chrono Kristin Armstrong Time Trial - Boise, ID - UCI 1.2 M+W
Jul. 15 - ASWB Twilight Criterium - Boise, ID - M+W
Jul. 19-23 - Cascade Classic - Bend, OR - UCI 2.2 M+W
Jul. 31-Aug. 6 - Tour of Utah - Utah - UCI 2.HC men
Aug. 10-13 - Tour of Colorado - Colorado - UCI 2.HC men
Aug. 19 - Rochester Criterium - Rochester, NY - M+W
Aug. 24-27 - Tour of the Commonwealth - Virginia - UCI 2.1 men
Sept. 1-4 - Gateway Cup - St. Louis, MO - M+W
Sept. 9 - Reading 120 - Reading, PA - UCI 1.2 M
Sept. 10 - Doylestown Criterium - Doylestown - M+W
Sept. 16 - TD Bank Mayor's Cup - Boston, MA - M+W