Update: Adam Myerson and attendee Brad Ross also weigh in on our report (based on notes from an attendee who cares to remain anonymous but believes the value of making such developments public). Ross explains the time trial can be skipped by anyone who does not care about start position and the 12-minute target for the time trial course is not final. We’re glad the dialogue is happening here – and people are listening, so chime in below. Also see USA Cycling’s press release and more reader comments on the event here.
A small group of about a dozen promoters made the trek to a snowy Colorado Springs this weekend to have what USA Cycling described as an “open dialogue” to discuss the future of cyclocross. Topics on the table included making decisions on adding qualification time trials to determine start position to the Cyclocross National Championships, qualification races for the 2012 Masters Cyclocross World Championships in Louisville and whether Nationals would be moved to January.
USA Cycling invited promoters involved in UCI races listed on the NRC schedule, with about 40 invitees on the list, according to Verge New England Cyclocross Championship Series organizer Adam Myerson. Promoters of some of the US calendar’s premier events including Brad Ross, Joan Hanscom, Brook Watts, Chris Grealish and Mitch Graham made the trip. These promoters organize major races that offer UCI points to the Elite (and sometimes Junior) racers, but the major decisions on the table regarding National Championships qualifications were not centered on Elite athletes but rather the large fields of Masters racers. Several promoters of some of the country’s largest race series told Cyclocross Magazine that the group invited or the small group in attendance was perfectly suited to decide on NRC, UCI and Elite racing issues but expressed concern that they did not adequately represent the typical age-group racer or their region for such National Championship policies.
(Because such topics are of paramount interest to our readers, Cyclocross Magazine was planning on attending the meeting, just as we have at the last two national championships, but on Friday we were told media was not welcome in order to encourage an open dialogue.)
Two preliminary decisions on qualifications will impact many of you who are planning on attending the 2010 National Championships in Bend and the 2012 Masters World Championships in Louisville. To alleviate the chaos of online registration and large field sizes expected at both events, the group has made the preliminary decision of implementing a time trial on a separate course at a different venue the day before to determine the start order for the larger title event, primarily Masters Men. The top eight racers from the previous year and the winner from the younger group (if he’s moved up) get a pass, but the others can skip the frantic midnight typing race at SportsBaseOnline.com and instead lay it all out on a longer lap the day before against their peers. The course is not expected to be very technical with a few dismounts and enough room for passing – potentially putting a premium on fitness and engine rather than technique – but reducing the chances of crashes or flats.
To avoid the massive field sizes expected at the 2012 Masters Worlds in Louisville, the current plan is to have qualifying races the day before, with the top 50 moving on to race for the rainbow-striped blue Masters Worlds jersey. This will not apply just to American racers, but everyone, so a racer making the expensive trip from Nepal could find himself a spectator for the big race if his high-altitude environment wasn’t enough to get him through the first round. National Champion Jonny Bold might approve, as it’s a way to avoid the “friggin’ joke, a circus” that he feels Nats has become.
The UCI will be paying close attention to both qualification schemes to see what works, in hopes of finding a system that would be applicable for other nations as participation in cyclocross grows throughout the world.
As for moving the USA Cycling Cyclocross National Championships to January, despite consensus among the small group in December that it’s something worth trying, no decision has been made. The hold up in the decision is a pending survey to participants in the 2009 Championships in Bend. Anyone who did not make that event but wants a say should be vocal (call USAC or drop a comment below or chime in on the thread in the forums – USAC will see it). Our past poll shows only 17% of you are opposed to such a date change – but if that’s not accurate, speak up!
Happy with all the planned changes? Mad? Feel well represented at this discussion? Or not at all? Drop a comment below. We’ll make sure it’s heard.