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USPRO criterium format open to discussion

By Mark Zalewski, North American Editor

The format of next year's USPRO criterium nationals will be openly communicated to the USPRO board to avoid the confusion over rider eligibility that occurred before this year's August event.

After realising that the proposed changes to the upcoming USPRO criterium nationals, from an open race to U.S. citizens only, was not communicated to teams, USA Cycling reversed its decision and reverted back to the previous format. In a statement last week, USA Cycling CEO Steve Johnson apologised for the lack of communication after Cyclingnews reported that some teams were upset by the decision.

The format will once again be a team-only race, with eight riders per team, holding a professional license. However, as previously reported the race is no longer a part of the UCI calendar.

"The team size is back in place with eight riders each," USA Cycling's Chief of Staff Sean Petty told Cyclingnews, "We will keep it as a same format, like a UCI trade team race. Although since it is not on the UCI calendar, the organiser is not obligated to invite five UCI foreign teams."

With the ruffled feathers seemingly back in place, the next logical question is whether next year's race will be changed to the American-only format. "We have to circle back and discuss it with the USPRO board," said Petty. "We will do that very soon."

Petty acknowledges the pros and cons of each format, and plans on hearing from both sides. "There are two schools of thought -- having all the top riders racing in there, but also it is a national championship, so it should be U.S. only."

The biggest benefit to come out of these events is that the communication will happen. "I think it was our expectation that the pro board would be consulted and discuss that change," Petty said of the breakdown in the communication process. "That didn't happen and subsequently nothing was communicated to the teams, which we found out about obviously. But at least it is better to find out now than August 10!"