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USA Cycling announced a new national criterium series.
It doesn’t have a name yet, or a full calendar, but it does have a $100,000 purse.
As of now, six of the 10 former USA CRITS races are included, with a full calendar to be announced in January.
For years, USA CRITS provided an overarching framework for independent criteriums, with series prizes, assistance with team travel logistics, and livestream video coverage of each race.
With the collapse of USA CRITS this fall, many teams and events were left scrambling. The criterium teams — with the notable exception of L39ion of Los Angeles — formed the National Association of Cycling Teams.
USA Cycling met with NACT and criterium race directors to create the new professional series.
“Cycling teams and athletes have historically had to just accept what events put forward with limited to no say. We are excited that USA Cycling and event directors are making the effort to work with the NACT taking into consideration the unified voice of teams and riders. Putting teams and athletes first is a step in the right direction for the entire sport,” said NACT interim president Lauren Dodge.
The new series includes Tulsa Tough, Boise Twilight, Salt Lake City Criterium, Littleton Twilight, Momentum Indy, and Gateway Cup.
Notably missing from the list are Athens Twilight and Winston Salem – both staples of the previous USA CRITS series.
VeloNews reached out to both race organizations, which declined to discuss their plans, aside from saying they did reach out to USAC expressing interest in taking part in the series.
“Criteriums are the dominant form of competitive road cycling in the U.S. and have proven to be popular with the public and sponsors,” said Malcolm McCollam, executive director of the Saint Francis Tulsa Tough. “This new collaborative effort between the event organizers, USA Cycling, and the athletes offers an opportunity to elevate the stature of criterium racing and bring additional value to our stakeholders.”
Details surrounding logistics and other potential events have yet to be announced.
Streaming video — a major draw for both fans and team sponsors with USA CRITS — is not as of now part of the arrangement. The new name and branding of the series will debut when the calendar is released in January.
USA Cycling spokesman Tom Mahoney said they hope the series will include close to a dozen events by that time. Races that were part of the Pro Road Tour and L39ion-owned events are currently being assessed for inclusion, Mahoney said.
L39ion dominated the national criterium season, winning scores of races including Tulsa Tough and Athens Twilight and leading the USA CRITS series until the team withdrew and launched its own race, Into the Lion’s Den.
L39ion operations manager Michael Roecklein is in favor of the new criterium series.
“I think it’s really great. I think the PRT had some flaws. I told USAC directly the things that let down the teams, and [we are] getting back to a time where teams can chase that national calendar,” Roecklein said. “I think it also makes it easier for the media to know what the show is.
“USA CRITS was trying to do that, but they didn’t have all the top talent at all the top races so it was kind of muddled. It will be a growth year, but we will have a lot more racing with a clear calendar.”
For USA Cycling, promoting bike racing in America is a pretty straightforward goal.
“Championing the top criterium events in the U.S. is a priority for USA Cycling,” said Chuck Hodge, USA Cycling’s chief of racing and events. “Being able to put a spotlight on the races and riders as part of a professional criterium series directly serves our mission of promoting the sport of cycling.”
|Saint Francis Tulsa Tough||June 10-12||Tulsa, OK|
|ASWD Twilight Criterium||July 9||Boise, ID|
|Salt Lake City Criterium||July 16-17||Salt Lake City, UT|
|Littleton Criterium||August 6||Littleton, CO|
|Momentum Indy||August 27-28||Indianapolis, IN|
|Bommarito Audi Gateway Cup||September 2-5||Saint Louis, MO|