Posted by Editoress on 01/11/07
Courtesy USA Cycling
After unveiling plans for a new season-long mountain bike initiative last October, USA Cycling announced today the 53 races that comprise the inaugural USA Cycling Mountain Bike National Calendars.
With over $200,000 in prize money on the line, the calendars encompass all disciplines of competitive off-road cycling and are divided into three primary categories Ã‹â€ cross country, gravity and ultra endurance.
The new USA Cycling Mountain Bike National Calendars were specifically designed to provide a more accessible opportunity for top-level events in the United States that have not traditionally been part of the national series model. The new concept is compatible with a variety of event models and provides professional and elite-level athletes with consistent, top-quality racing opportunities across all disciplines of mountain biking.
"The USA Cycling Mountain Bike National Calendars have been created to increase opportunities for both riders and promoters," explained USA Cycling mountain bike eastern regional manager Kelli Lusk. "Riders will have the chance to compete at national-level events across the country where consistent competition, organization and prize purses are offered. Promoters will have the opportunity to be a part of a national calendar and earn the recognition they've long deserved. There are so many quality events throughout the United States, but most of these events didn't have a higher level to graduate to under the previous model after they obtained AMBC (American Mountain Bike Challenge) status. Now, these calendars give those races something to aspire towards."
Consisting of 29 events across 17 states, the cross country calendar kicks off March 25 with the Chickasaw Trace Classic in Columbia, Tenn. and stretches six months to the last weekend in October when the Piney Hills Classic XIV in Ruston, La. concludes the calendar. In between, notable events such as the Sea Otter Classic and the six National Mountain Bike Series (NMBS) races from USA Cycling's previous national series model are included.
Over the course of the season-long calendar, athletes will accrue ranking points as they pursue overall titles in men's and women's individual and team categories Ã‹â€ much like USA Cycling's National Racing Calendar model in road cycling.
Each of the 29 events on the cross country calendar is categorized according to the amount of overall ranking points available. Five category-1 events offer the most points Ã‹â€ the Sea Otter Classic, the Snowshoe MTB Festival in West Virginia and the NMBS stops in Phoenix, Park City, Utah and Banner Elk, N.C.
The cross country calendar also includes three category-2 events, seven category-3 races and 14 category-4 events.
With the introduction of the 2007 USA Cycling Mountain Bike National Calendars comes the opportunity for athletes to accumulate UCI points at eight calendar events. All five category-1 events are on the UCI calendar in addition to the three category-2 events Ã‹â€ The Greenbrier Challenge in Frederick, Md., the NMBS stop in Fontana, Calif. and the Maplelag MTB Spring Opener in Callaway, Minn. Those eight events, plus the USA Cycling Mountain Bike National Championships in West Dover, Vt., offer athletes nine opportunities to gather UCI points on American soil in 2007. The procurement of UCI points is the primary factor in determining how many start positions the United States will receive at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing.
The 18-event gravity calendar, which features downhill, 4-cross, super D and dual slalom events, will span 11 states. With similar category designations, there are six category-1 events and 12 category-2 events. Category-1 events include the Sea Otter Classic, the Chile Challenge in Angel Fire, N.M., the Blast the Mass in Snowmass Village, Colo., the Mountain States Cup races in Telluride and Keystone, Colo. and the Rock MTN G3 Series Race in Angel Fire.
The ultra endurance calendar, which consists of 62-mile races, marathons and 12- and 24-hour races, includes six events.
As in the cross country calendar, the gravity calendar and ultra endurance calendar will also crown overall champions at season's end.
An important element in the creation of the separate calendars within the USA Cycling Mountain Bike National Calendar framework allows for events that have a stronger presence in one particular discipline to be a part of the national calendar.
"That shows insightful thinking on USA Cycling's part," commented Mountain States Cup promoter Mike McCormack. "We can't be all things to all people, so for USA Cycling to offer different calendars specific to disciplines was a wise decision. This allows for the best races in the country to be a part of a national calendar, and we are thrilled to be a part of it.
For the complete USA Cycling Mountain Bike National Calendars, click on the links below: Note all files are in pdf format
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