Racers will hit a new stop — Montana — on USA Cycling’s Pro Cross Country Tour in 2011.
Missoula, Montana is the seventh race for Pro XCT riders, which is one more event than in 2010. Other races in the national series include old standbys like early season stops at Bonelli Park and Fontana in Southern California and then the Sea Otter Classic.
As was the case in 2010, 2011 will see a stop at Lance Armstrong’s rance outside Austin, Texas. But for next season the race will be moved up April 30 in an effort to avoid the sweltering heat that greeted the inaugural race this past May. Other stops include Colorado Springs, Colorado and Mt. Morris, Wisconsin.
“The 2011 Pro XCT will expand slightly over the 2010 version, offering one of the best calendars of quality UCI mountain bike races we’ve had in many years,” stated USA Cycling CEO Steve Johnson.
The Sea Otter Classic on April 16 will be a UCI C1 level one event offering maximum ranking points to top riders, which are used to accumulate UCI ranking points and top prize purses.
“We are committed to our long-stated goals of providing athletes with consistent top-level competition opportunities, increasing exposure for mountain biking domestically, and maximizing U.S. start spots at the sport’s highest stages; and the Pro XCT national calendar provides a sustainable platform to help accomplish these goals,” Johnson said.
New is the Missoula Montana XC, which will mark the final contest on the season’s Pro XCT. The race is set for July 24 with a course in close proximity of downtown Missoula.
The UCI points up for grabs at each Pro XCT event are crucial in helping the United States qualify mountain biking start spots for the 2012 Olympic Games in London, as well as determining the start order at the UCI Mountain Bike World Championships. The men’s and women’s overall Pro XCT champions will also automatically qualify a spot on the U.S. squad for the UCI Mountain Bike World Championships.