From SpectaSport PR:

August 10, 2008; Conshohocken, PA, USA: The thirteen-race Zipp OVCX Cyclocross Tour has made no secret of its intentions to become the next major regional player on the American Cyclocross Scene. 2008 appears to be a watershed year for the up-and-coming Midwestern organization, which kicks off its campaign on September 14 with the Cyclocross at Riverview Park in the Cincinnati suburb of Loveland.

Encompassing the States of Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky, the region is America’s industrial heartland; and the Cincinnati/Indianapolis/Louisville core of the racing series is home to more than 14 million people. No fewer than nine professional sports teams call the area home. But the heart and soul of the Ohio Valley sports scene is racing. Auto racing’s Indianapolis 500 and Brickyard 400 are world famous, as are horse racing’s Kentucky Derby and Little Brown Jug. And, the story of the emotional and financial connection between the town of Madison Indiana and the 3000 horsepower Unlimited Hydroplane racing boat that bears the name “Miss Madison” is so unique that a major Hollywood motion picture portraying the story was released in 2005.

Zipp OVCX Tour Director Mitch Graham and his crew have started taking the steps necessary to reach out not only to racers that are historically rooted in road and mountain bike racing – but also Midwesterners that have no previous roots at all in bicycle competition and whose racing careers are starting in cyclocross. “The vision for the series is that it continues to grow in baby steps up into a national caliber series — a focus point for Midwest ‘cross racing. I want each race to be a Midwestern destination point on each race weekend,” says Graham. “I can either travel one hour to a local race and race against 10 guys, or I can travel 3.5 hours to Lexington KY and compete in a Zipp OVCX Tour race against 40 guys. As you can possibly pick up from the guidelines, each Zipp OVCX race is run very much like a UCI race, even the ones that aren’t UCI sanctioned.”

It’s no secret that ‘cross is one of the most spectator friendly disciplines in cycling. But, until now, few promoters were willing to buy into the idea that ordinary people would actually watch their bike races, even though thousands of Americans line roads for hours to catch just a five minute glimpse of stage races like the Tours of California and Georgia. One of the many things Zipp OVCX Tour management has done to enlarge the series is hire a business development company that understands the potential of the Midwestern market. “Back in the early ‘90’s, I was heavily involved with go-kart racing,” says Ken Getchell of SpectaSport LLC. “Most tracks around the country were ecstatic to get a hundred spectators. But in this area, they were getting 20-30 thousand spectators. I announced a go-kart race in Elkhart Indiana for a few years that annually drew 50,000 spectators, which is more people than actually lived in the town. It was above-the-fold front-page news in the local newspaper for nearly a week, the nearest hotels with vacancies were 90 minutes away and Indy 500 drivers came just to watch. For go-karts. People here love to see people race things. And, because cyclocross is go-from-the-gun intensity, people who know car racing or horse racing can instantly understand what’s going on in a ‘cross race. Unlike road racing, there are no foreign words like “peloton” and it’s OK to attack when your competitor falls down. Midwesterners like that.”

Without a doubt, the allure of internationally sanctioned racing is part of the Zipp OVCX Tour experience, with no fewer that five UCI. As last year, the USGP, American’s National Cyclocross Series, has included an OVCX weekend in Louisville as part of the national series. And this year, there will be the unique spectacle of the Cincinnati International Cyclocross Festival with UCI racing on three consecutive days in the suburbs of Cincinnati from October 10 through 12. The C-2 Darkhorse Cyclocross starts off the weekend with an unusual (for the U.S.) weekday race on Friday, October 10. Saturday sees the popular Java Johnny’s C-2 race, with the newly-elevated C-1 BioWheels/United Dairy Farmers Cyclocross Race on Sunday. That’s a lot of international points and prize money over the course of a 54 hour period, pointing up the Zipp OVCX Tour’s slogan, “The Ohio Valley is the new destination for cycling.”