With just one stop left in the US Cup-CX cyclocross series, racers and promoters weigh in on the series, its format and its crowd-funded second and third prizes and increase in first prize payout.
When Scott Tedro and Ryan Trebon announced the launch of this season’s US Cup-CX cyclocross series, the country’s fourth inter-regional UCI cyclocross series, there was palpable excitement among fans and riders. Since the sunset of the USGP, American UCI races have proliferated, spreading out top talent on any given weekend, and arguably making a unifying series even more necessary if fans and racers wanted all the top racers at one event. The USA Cycling’s Pro CX series doesn’t offer this benefit, as racers can’t physically attend each race, and it includes every non-World Cup UCI race.
The winner-take-all notion of the US Cup-CX when announced was novel, and certainly the big, $10,000 paycheck for the winner caught the attention of top riders. By offering the biggest payday in U.S. cyclocross, it ensured top racers would attend the four weekends and at least while in contention, race every day.
Entering the penultimate weekend in Cincinnati, the titles were very much in play, with Kaitie Keough leading the women’s standings and Tobin Ortenblad leading the men’s standings, both with modest 15 point margins.
After Cincinnati, with just one more event left on Saturday in Louisville, both the men’s and women’s jerseys could change hands, although Hyde almost certainly has it won and Keough has gained extra 10 point cushion.
With sizable margins between first and second, and a prestigious Pan American Continental Championship jersey on the line on Sunday, many top racers could justifiably skip Saturday’s race and save the legs for Sunday, but Tedro and Trebon wanted to avoid such a situation by announcing a plan to offer second and third prizes funded in part by a GoFundMe campaign, with Tedro matching 50% of the donations, up to $7,500.
The decision was a bit controversial and not necessarily embraced by everyone, with Tedro admitting to Cyclocross Magazine last week that he was disappointed in the number of contributions, but pleasantly surprised at the dollar amount of each donation. Hours after our interview with Tedro went live, Lance Armstrong kicked in $1,000, and the pool now sits at $12,775 with 70 donors, including Tedro’s $7,500 contribution.
With one day left in the seven-race US Cup-CX, we were curious as to racers’ and promoters’ impressions of the inaugural season, and sought feedback in Cincinnati. Here’s what they had to say.
On the series and racing so far:
Stephen Hyde, Cannondale p/b CyclocrossWorld:
“So far it’s been awesome. The races have been amazing. They’ve done a really good job in promoting it, and it’s great to see money back in the sport. It’s great to see Ryan [Trebon] have a job again [laughs]. And I think he’s done a really, really good job. What Scott [Tedro] did with the mountain bike scene for a long time, it picked it up and saved it, and I think it’s due time. We’ve all been begging for a series. Thank you, Scott, and thank you, Ryan, for making it happen.”
“So far it’s been awesome. The races have been amazing. They’ve done a really good job in promoting it, and it’s great to see money back in the sport” -Stephen Hyde
Emma White, Cannondale p/b CyclocrossWorld:
“I’m happy to be in second right now. It is true that the racing up to this point in the season has been some of the most exciting races I’ve ever been a part of, and I’ve every spectated too, for the men. So there is something to be said for that… Ryan has done such a good job.”
On the crowd-sourced fundraising for second, third place:
“Putting in something for second and third keeps everyone chomping at the bit, you don’t want anyone to quit because they are in third. “
Sofia Gomez Villafañe, Pivot / DNA Cycling:
“I’m actually kind of against the US Cup CX. The one takes all, I struggle with a lot. The person who is going to win makes a paycheck already. And even the top three, you should have sponsors funding that. Those should not be crowd funded.”
“Spectators should fund the development programs, not the Elite racers. I think what they’re doing is awesome, the idea of it, but it’s ridiculous to spend a month on the road after the World Cups. When they announced the top three [prize change] after two weekends, I had a little bit of a laugh.”
“The person who is going to win makes a paycheck already. And even the top three, you should have sponsors funding that. Those should not be crowd funded.” -Sofia Gomez Villafañe
Stephen Hyde, Cannondale p/b CyclocrossWorld:
“I think it’s good. So as it sits, comparing it to the USGP, there’s more money in the US Cup CX right now for the win. But, my original vote was I’d rather see less, I’d rather see first come down, and then have first through third. It gives everyone something to fight for.”
“But I could be wrong. We were fighting really hard in the first half of the season. I think it’s unfortunate we had to go to a fundraiser. Scott threw another chunk of cash down, and I think a lot of people stepped up. We’re not quite at the goal yet. If fans want to see a really good series, if they want to see us continue to have jobs, especially the privateers, especially the guys who are fighting for it, we need money to do this. So, we’re really very, very, very thankful to everyone who has pitched in whether it’s $5, $100, $1500 or whatever it is, we’re super thankful for that. It’s a big deal.”
On the impact of encouraging racers to race both days:
Jeremy Powers, Aspire:
“I think that seeing good racing with incentive is always important. Any time that I was racing before, I was racing one day. I was metering my efforts for World Cup races specifically. I was putting everything on one day of racing whether that was Nationals or Pan Am [Championships] or Category 1s or World Cups.”
But we’re in a different time now, and there’s a lot of riders on the top of their game. And so I’m working to change how I race, because, A) I’m older; and B) There’s a lot more competition. That’s a good thing. I would say those days of racing just one all-out effort are over for sure for me.”
“I would say those days of racing just one all-out effort are over for sure for me.” -Jeremy Powers
On their races being included in the US Cup-CX series:
Mitch Graham, promoter of Cincinnati Cyclocross Day 1 at Devou Park:
“It was nice. It was smart. [The series] offers another layer of incentive for riders to come. We’re super proud [Trebon] invited us to be part of the series.”
Julie Herrmann, promoter of Cincinnati Cyclocross Day 2 at Harbin Park:
“It was an honor to be part of it. I think we were considered for it because we have put on quality events in the past. We jumped at the chance because we knew it would bring the best riders in the country here and we saw what happens [when they come].”
Stay tuned for full coverage of the final race of the US Cup-CX and the Pan American Championships from Louisville.