Backers unveil new criterium racing series for 2023

The US will see a new criterium racing series next year with the National Cycling League.

Photo: AFP via Getty Images

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The U.S. will see a new criterium racing series next year with the National Cycling League.

The series of criterium races on closed-course, 1-2 kilometer loops will be scheduled around the U.S., including Miami, Atlanta, Denver, and Chicago. A championship team will be decided at the end of the season and awarded the largest prize in the history of criterium racing, organizers said this week.

“Our mission is to create the next generation sports community by reimagining sports ownership, fan participation, and social impact,” said Paris Wallace, co-founder and CEO of the NCL. “The NCL will be the first major professional sports league that is majority-minority and female-owned and values men’s and women’s athletic achievements and contributions equally.”

The NCL series will feature a new scoring system that will award points after each lap, ensuring non-stop lead changes, high-stakes drama, and that NCL races will be the most exciting bike races in the world, officials said.

Officials also say the league has designed ensure gender equality, and each team will be composed of men and women who receive equal pay and equal resources.

Although men and women will race separately on race day, their results will count equally toward the team’s total score.

Backers say technology will provide fans with a “direct look into the performance of athletes via wearable technology and virtual ride-alongs during training, qualifiers, and race day,” a statement read.

The NCL races will exist both in the real and virtual world at the same time, to “allow fans to participate live in the metaverse, riding alongside their favorite athletes during real-world NCL races.”

Investors include Founder Collective, Collab Capital, Jalen Ramsey (Los Angeles Rams), Derwin James (Los Angeles Chargers), Kevin Byard (Tennessee Titans), Emmanuel Acho (Fox Sports 1) and Michele Roberts (former executive director of the National Basketball Players Association).

David Mulugheta, a top NFL agent, is also backing the venture.

Officials say the NCL is working with USA Cycling on sanctioning the 2023 season. The league is “looking forward to strengthening its relationship with the federation and all stakeholders to help grow and support the sport,” a statement read.

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