Cyclocross Magazine recently talked with Brad Ross, promoter of the Cyclocross National Championships in Bend, Oregon in 2009 and 2010. While we’ll soon have a report about his exciting plans for the four days of racing in Bend, we have some significant news today for the age-groupers on how start order will be determined.

Ross is implementing changes to how age group race start order is being determined to avoid the common complaint of previous years when title contenders were stuck starting behind fast-typing slower racers that registered just after registration opened. Order of registration will still determine start positions, but it will determine your start position only among racers in your USA Cycling cyclocross category (1-4). So, while you may be the very first person to register for Masters 30-34, if you’re a Cat 3, you’ll be starting behind every Cat 1 and Cat 2, even if they register last minute, a week before the race.

We think it makes a lot of sense, provided a rider is properly categorized. However, in areas like Colorado and ironically in the host state of Oregon, most races are not sanctioned by USAC and thus many racers do not bother to upgrade their USAC category. Furthermore, in areas like NorCal, where most cyclocross racing is USAC sanctioned, categories are still self-determined A, B, C categories and racers have little incentive to ask for upgrades – a racer can be competitive in the A race and still be a Cat 4. But now Nationals participants certainly now have incentive to request local officials for those upgrades.

Ross is confident it shouldn’t be an issue, as USAC will honor other governing bodies’ (such as Oregon’s OBRA) categorization and officials will accomodate reasonable category upgrades. But while the registration date and time has not been set and is likely still months away, any Nationals participant that’s been holding off on upgrades or hoping to sandbag his way through December may want to get an upgrade sooner than later. Hopefully USAC officials are stocking up on upgrade stickers.

Update: Contenders from the previous year are still giving top start positions. Ross believes the previous year’s top 10 will all be given top spots.