USA Cycling has answered a lingering question on many U.S. teams’ minds now that the governing body has confirmed that National Racing Calendar criteriums will be added to the UCI Criterium Calendar.
Thursday’s move by USAC opens the door for Pro Continental and ProTeam riders to contest NRC criteriums.
“(The UCI) allowed us a variance on sending in NRC criteriums to be a part of the UCI Criterium Calendar,” said USAC chief operating officer Sean Petty. “Per UCI rules, ProTeams and Pro Continental team riders will be allowed to compete in those events.”
Petty received clarification Wednesday on UCI rule 2.7.005, which reads:
The national federations shall submit their criterium calendar to the UCI no later than 1st September for the following year.
Organisers whose criterium is not included on this calendar may not invite riders from a team registered with the UCI or allow them to ride.
If the national criterium calendar is not received by the UCI before the deadline, the organisers in question may not invite riders from a team registered with the UCI or allow them to ride.
According to Petty, the UCI granted an extension, allowing the NRC criteriums to be added to the calendar more than five months after the deadline. NRC events like the Nature Valley Grand Prix will continue to be off limits for the upper division teams, at least for now. Petty said that he continues to work with the UCI on rules allowing Pro Continental squads to enter those races.
Teams like UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling and their Continental rivals have been in the dark regarding their participation in criteriums in the States in 2011. As recently as Tuesday, team staff confirmed to VeloNews that they were uncertain of their ability to criteriums in the U.S. This move clears any roadblocks to their entry. With 14 criteriums on the 2011 National Racing Calendar, the ability for U.S. teams to compete in their home markets is key.
Mike Tamayo, team manager at UHC, told VeloNews that the team will now plan to contest a selection of the events.
“We’re very excited that USA Cycling and the UCI have been able to work something out. Criteriums are a staple of U.S. bike racing and are a great opportunity for us to be able to showcase our sponsors in such an intimate setting,” he said. “It’s a good opportunity for us to come home with some results in Europe and be able to showcase our riders that have good rides in Europe.”
Petty shared Tamayo’s enthusiasm.
“This is a good, very interesting and exciting development for those criteriums on the NRC,” he said. “These are the highest standard criteriums today on there.”
The addition of the criteriums to the UCI calendar comes just one day after the Tour of the Gila requested removal from the international schedule, citing sponsorship shortfalls. Petty said that in the case of the criteriums, very little extra standards apply above and beyond what the NRC already has in place.
“There’s actually very few additional requirements, restrictions on the finance. Almost none in fact. That won’t change with these events,” Petty told VeloNews. “There aren’t the usual requirements of the UCI commissaries and the other things that go along with a standard UCI road or mountain bike race …. There’s no minimum prize list per se, though we have that with the NRC.”