It won’t be the same as the typical icy, snowy spectacle we’ve seen in November and December in the past, but Jingle Cross takes a big leap up in the calendar and in stature by becoming a Telenet UCI Cyclocross World Cup event for 2016 on September 24, just three days after the CrossVegas World Cup. With this announcement Iowa City suddenly jumped up into the Google searches in Belgium. Full press release below.
IOWA CITY, IA – Jingle Cross, Inc is pleased to announce that UCI Jingle Cross and the City of Iowa City have been selected for the 20162017 UCI World Cup of Cyclocross. The UCI World Cup of Cyclocross is a series for the top cyclocross bike racers from around the world. The UCI World Cup is the most prestigious Cylcocross race series in the sport and the Jingle Cross – Iowa City UCI World Cup will be televised live around the world. Only one other UCI World Cup has been on North American soil in the history of the UCI.
“We are very excited that the UCI has selected Jingle Cross and the City of Iowa City as a host event for the UCI World Cup,” said Jingle Cross founder and race director John Meehan. “We have been recognized as an outstanding cyclocross race by professional riders, recreational amateurs, spectators, and fans for many years here in North America. Now the world can see our amazing event.”
Jingle Cross began in 2004 as a small local race but has grown to an enormous size over the past decade with over 2500 registrants each of the past few years. The Christmas themed holiday race has traditionally been in November or December but will move to September to align with the UCI racing calendar. Many elements of the Jingle Cross have taken on holiday nicknames that are now ingrained in cyclocross conversations, including Mt. Krumpit for a large challenging climb and the Holly Jolly Hell Hole for a swamp mud pit.
When Meehan founded the Jingle Cross, he set out to try to make something different. “I wanted to make more than just a great bike race – I wanted it to also have a special purpose.” Meehan is a pediatric surgeon who received his medical degree from the University of Iowa and worked at the University of Iowa Children’s Hospital as a pediatric surgeon straight out of residency. Since the beginning, all proceeds from the Jingle Cross have been donated to the University of Iowa Children’s Hospital. That will continue as a World Cup event.
The reaction from pro cyclists was swift. “The course at Jingle Cross is one of the best in America,” said current U.S. National Champion Jeremy Powers (Aspire). “With so many natural technical features [like] the climb up Mt. Krumpit and the off camber descent on the backside, it’s an ideal venue that has all the elements that makes cyclocross special. Having it become a World Cup is an incredible opportunity to showcase one of the premier events in the USA. Jingle Cross is well run and packs in a strong crowd of very, very vocal spectators. I always look forward to racing in Iowa. I’m excited that this year, I’ll be racing it as a World Cup.”
Jonathan Page also echoed the praise. “Now this is going to be an awesome world cup!” said Page on hearing the news. Page is a former three time U.S. National Champion who has raced dozens of UCI World Cup races around the globe. “Well organized, fun atmosphere, good people, challenging course! Excellent choice, UCI!”
Word of the announcement spread to Europe very quickly. Czech Republic National Champion Katerina Nash has won many Jingle Cross UCI races and is regarded as one of the top bike racers in the world. “Jingle Cross is one of my favorite events on the [U.S.] domestic racing calendar. I really like the challenging course that crisscrosses up and down Mt. Krumpit. In addition to the great racing in Iowa, I really value the idea behind Jingle Cross as a fundraiser for the Children’s Hospital. We even get to share the podium with young patients who are the biggest winners of the event.”
The UCI makes its selection through a long process of applications, bids, and site visits. Most races have been in Europe and highly concentrated in Western Europe. But the sport has seen explosive growth in the United States in recent years and has a rapidly growing fan base. Part of the major appeal of cyclocross is that amateur riders can also race these course and then stay to watch the professionals race.
Jingle Cross has excelled in providing a fun event for recreational bicyclists while still providing an exciting, high energy spectator experience for the fans to stay and watch the pros.
The Jingle Cross UCI World Cup of cyclocross Festival will be a 3 to 4 day event September 2225, 2016 in Iowa City, Iowa. The UCI World Cup will occur on Saturday, September 24. Amateur racing, as well as other UCI pro races, will be on the days before and after the World Cup. In fact, the amateur riders will race on exactly the same World Cup course on Sunday, September 25. “Imagine being allowed to play a pick up softball game with your buddies in Yankee stadium or Fenway Park. Then after your game is done, you get to stay in the stands and watch Game 6 of the World Series. That’s what we have created at Jingle Cross,” said Meehan. “If you build it, they will come.”
Meehan is a pediatric surgeon and is world renowned for pioneering minimally invasive robotic surgery for children. He now lives in Washington and practices at Seattle Children’s hospital but comes back to Iowa every year to organize the Jingle Cross.