Monday 10:30 a.m. Update:
Course modification photos:
Tweets by @raywhitney3
1:30 p.m. Updated Schedule
Racers and fans arrived at Zilker Park in Austin, TX today expecting a showdown between the nation’s top racers. Instead, they found police barricading the parking lot entrances, informing the crowd that all events today at the US National Cyclocross Championships were cancelled.
Photographers roamed the empty course, bereft, as rumors flew through the expo area. Racers, hoping that the travel expenses and months of training could still pay off, spun through the parking lots in their warmup jackets. Could the afternoon races still happen? Would the race be postponed?
Although dreams were dashed for racing Sunday with a 10 AM announcement that the races today were cancelled, USA Cycling officials and a representative of the Parks and Recreation Department arrived at a compromise: races would resume Monday under a condensed schedule.
The Parks and Recreation Department cited damage beyond expectations after an unusual amount of rain covered the course in layers of mud. Each set of wheels in every race that came through this week chewed up the landscape more and more. After two inches of rain fell on the park on Saturday night, the potential of damage to the park was deemed too significant to continue without course changes.
“None of us anticipated this weather, or this amount of rain over that long a time,” said Sarah Hensley of Austin’s Parks and Recreation Department. “We have to protect our park, and particularly our trees. We have to keep them viable and protect them.”
The disappointment was palpable in the air at Zilker Park as racers with flights Sunday night or Monday calculated their losses. “I’m a privateer for cyclocross, like 99% of riders here. The cost of plane tickets, a week at a hotel, a mechanic, and time off from work – that’s literally thousands of dollars per person. Think of the Boulder Junior Cycling team, who brought thirty kids this weekend,” Adam Myerson of Cycle-Smart, pro racer and race promoter.
It’s not just the racers, though. Fans and families traveled from great distances to watch these races unfold. “I’m going to have to call my parents, who took time off from work to drive here from Florida to see this spectacular show,” podium hopeful Stephen Hyde (JAM Fund/NCC) said.
Selection for the US Worlds team is far from certain at this point, especially for the men’s squad. Hyde is hopeful that his petition will be accepted despite this decisive race being cancelled. Today’s race would have been a crucial decision-maker for the women’s team, where several racers are in tight competition for a chance to compete in Tabor. It’s unclear whether those racers will make the races tomorrow.
On the world stage, US cyclocross struggles to be taken as seriously as European cyclocross. The postponement of Nationals today, compounded with the unprecedented rescheduling of the 2013 World Championships in Louisville, are two high-profile steps back. “Explain to a Belgian cyclocross fan that the US National Championships were cancelled due to rain. It makes us look like a laughingstock,” said Myerson. “This is exactly why we don’t get respect from the other countries,” agreed Hyde.
VP Micah Rice stands by not needing a test event for Nationals at Zilker Park. Press conference concluded. Stay tuned for more updates.
Austin Park’s Sara Hensley: “Some [of the emails and calls] are asking for my resignation or firing.”
Austin Park’s Sara Hensley: “Some of our trees are 100 years old. Some are 200 years old.”
Austin Park’s Sara Hensley: “We had 1.5 inches of rain yesterday.”
Austin Park’s Sara Hensley: “We certainly have citizens who are Tweeting and are very angry with us…and citizens who understand the importance of such events. There is no win here.”
Austin Park’s Sara Hensley “We don’t want to send people away without completing this event.”
USA Cycling’s Micah Rice: “We’re just thankful to be able to have racing tomorrow.”
New course modifications, re-routes, compressed schedule for tomorrow, Monday, at noon. “We’re in pretty good shape,” says Micah Rice in terms of having the event take place. We’re sure many racers and families may feel differently.
USA Cycling just told us and updated their site: Sunday’s juniors, U23 and elite races have been postponed until noon CST on Monday at Zilker Park. USA Cycling will release an updated schedule shortly.
10:20 a.m. update:
a press conference is scheduled for 11:00 a.m. We’ll be there.
10:05 a.m. update:
as of 10:05 a.m. today’s events are official cancelled.
9:40 a.m. update:
We’ve learned the Austin City Parks department tends to be conservative, to say the least. This year’s big New Year’s Eve party was also postponed, “due to anticipated inclement weather.”
8:45 a.m. update:
We are at the venue, at the finish line, feet away from USA Cycling officials in Zilker Park in Austin, Texas and the official word is today’s (Sunday) races of the 2015 Cyclocross National Championships are “postponed.”
Do you get on your flight back? Head home now? We know you have questions.
We’ll bring you the latest here but despite an email saying they are in a holding pattern we’ve heard from USAC at the venue that today’s races are postponed, and we can’t see a way they are held today, or after this fiasco, in Austin.
Also, stay tuned to our Twitter feed here for all the latest: http://twitter.com/cyclocross
Please share to alert fellow racers and fans.