This past weekend, for the second year in a row, UCI cyclocross promoters gathered in Colorado Springs for the USA Cycling Cyclocross Promoter Summit. Similar to last year’s event, the event started Friday night and continued through Sunday, touching on many subjects that impact cyclocrossers, both amateur and professional. Cyclocross Magazine is bringing you a multi-part series of reports from this summit starting today.
First up is Part I of a report from long-time promoter and racer JD Bilodeau, as he recaps the discussions on the growth of the sport, women’s junior and U23 events and UCI rankings. [Update: Also see Part II regarding Masters Worlds, non-UCI NRC races and promoter report cards. Update 2: Geoff Proctor clarified with Cyclocross Magazine that UCI rule changes are not finalized.]
by JD Bilodeau
Over the weekend many of the nation’s UCI cyclocross race promoters along with cycling industry members and team directors sat down for a meeting at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, CO. On the agenda were an overview from USA Cycling CEO Steve Johnson, updates from National CX program director Marc Gullickson and UCI Cross Commission member Geoff Proctor, and discussions about date selection and the new non-UCI NRC race designation. Also in attendance were Tim Johnson and Katie Compton, who both gave input on the future of the sport from an Elite athlete perspective.
Promoters attending the summit included representatives from two of the three National UCI Series, the USGP of Cyclocross and the New England Professional Cyclocross Series (the new Cyclocross After Dark UCI race series being the third series). Regional UCI races were also well represented, ranging from New England and New York to the new Chicago Cyclocross Cup, the SoCal series, North Carolina CX and the Cincinnati C3 Cyclocross Festival.
USA Cycling CEO Steve Johnson kicked things off with an overview of the growth of USA Cycling in general, and gave some interesting statistics. According to USAC records, 72% of their license holders have a road-only license and 18% are mountain bike only. That leaves just 10% holding both, with that 10% being broken down between 60% having road be the primary license and 40% choosing mountain biking as the primary license. Despite the skew towards road, USAC’s numbers show an upswing in new off-road licenses. Putting that in relation to cyclocross, Johnson said the data they have shows that cyclocross participants tend to be road riders who then pick up cyclocross as an additional sport. Asked about moving to a unified license structure where one license gives you access to all disciplines (cyclocross races currently accept either road or mtb licenses) Johnson replied that it was in the works, but was still likely several years out.
The general theme of Johnson’s introduction, and a theme that he repeated throughout the weekend was that USA Cycling’s goal was to increase the “value of riders experience” by improving customer service on USAC’s end and to work with promoters offer more value to their event participants. Key to this strategy is promoter summits like this one, a new national promoter organization, and a new initiative to improve the quality of officiating and the interactions between race officials promotes and participants.
National CX Program Director Marc Gullickson followed up with an overview of the plans for U23 and junior racing in 2011/12. Gullickson emphasized the importance of keeping junior and U23 selection events placed in the second half of the season in an attempt to keep young riders from burning out early in a long race year. The moving of Nationals into January is an important step in this process and will hopefully help get the junior and U23 riders to worlds with fresher minds and fresher legs. Gullickson also suggested that with the large number of UCI events being supported in the US now, it might be time to see a few U23-only UCI races on the US calendar as a next step in the growth of the sport. New for 2011/12 will be some talent identification/development camps in the lead-up to the actual cross season. No dates or locations were available yet, but should be coming soon.
Geoff Proctor, the US representative on the UCI cyclocross commission was up next and gave a brief rundown on potential, not-yet-approved changes that may be coming to the international scene. For European races, a greater emphasis on course safety and crowd control will be in place this year following the incidents at Worlds where the Belgian party tent caused considerable damage. Another security initiative hopes to reduce the number of flags hanging into the course, especially at the finish.
In response to the US domination of the early season UCI standings, points will now likely be calculated on a rolling year basis. With the top-heavy World Cup points now carrying over until the following years event the start position advantage offered by early season US races evaporates. This also creates an issue in the US for masters age athletes who wish to compete in the 2012 Masters World Championships, as the eligibility requirements state that masters carry no UCI points at all. The exact cut-off date for masters-age riders carrying points is not clear yet, but an announcement should be made soon.
Attendees were surprised by Proctor’s announcement that the requirement for each UCI Series to hire a UCI Technical Director may been dropped for 2011. The fact that neither the NACT nor the Verge series had met that requirement (despite neither series intending to be an “official” series) weighed heavily in the decision to suspend both series for the 2011/2012 season.
Several new initiatives to advance the status of women’s UCI racing are pending approval and are being strongly supported by Proctor. Along with the previously announced requirement that all C1 events include a women’s race, there is now a proposal pending to create a C2 category for women’s racing. Also on the table for the following season is a proposal to increase the women’s prize lists to reduce the disparity between the prizes for women and men’s races. Longer duration races have been discussed, but for the UCI-level events it looks like the current 40 minutes will remain as the standard.
Stay tuned for Part 2 of JD Bilodeau’s report, where he reports on Katie Compton and Tim Johnson’s advice to the group, UCI event report cards, non-UCI NRC race designations and more. Appreciate Bilodeau’s reporting to Cyclocross Magazine readers on these topics or have an opinion on the subjects discussed? Drop a comment below.