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Capital Criterium canceled, USA CRITS series may designate another finale

WASHINGTON, D.C. (VN) — Citing schedule conflicts, financial constraints and rider burnout, organizers of the Capital Criterium have canceled the October 2 event in Washington, D.C.. The race was scheduled to be the final stop of the 2011 USA Crits Championship Series.

Race director Mark Sommers said the late-season date made it difficult to attract a deep enough field of elite competitors. The race was held in July last year, but when it became the USA Crits final, the date was moved to later in the year.

“The new date created huge difficulties for the teams and riders in both the mens’ and womens’ fields,” Sommers said. “People are dealing with fatigue from a long season, injuries are piling up and there are limited travel monies at that point in the year.”

Scheduling conflicts were also an issue, Sommers says. The event overlaps with the USA Cycling Elite Track National Championships in Los Angeles, which would affect track riders such as Jackie Simes, who won CapCrit in 2010. Cyclocross season will also be in full-swing, he added.

“All of the calendar wrangling really put us back and wouldn’t allow us to get the type of field that would warrant closing some of the most expensive real estate in the world,” he said. “To ensure the long-term success of the event, we didn’t want to risk going forward and not being able to offer the type of dynamic racing and full fields throughout the day that would be expected by our partners and sponsors.”

Sommers said he hopes that CapCrit will return on the 2012 National Criterium Calendar and he is consulting with USA Cycling about the future of the event. “USA Cycling continues to be a supportive partner as does the USA Crits Series,” he says. “It’s a fabulous course and a fabulous race and we’d all like to see this happen next year.”

The cancelation of CapCrit could mark the end the 2011 USA Crits Series. The series already suffered a setback Aug. 28 at the Chris Thater Memorial in Binghamton, New York, when the pro mens race had to be canceled due to bad weather. The pro womens race was held the day before with Theresa Cliff-Ryan (Colavita/Forno d’Asolo p/b Cooking Light) taking the win.

The last pro mens race in the series was held July 30 at Presbyterian Hospital Invitational Criterium in Charlotte, North Carolina, meaning there would have been a more than two-month gap in the schedule if CapCrit had been held.

Although CapCrit is canceled, series director Gene Dixon isn’t ready to call it quits for 2011. He says USA Crits is in discussions with promoters to turn an existing fall race into a new finale for the USA Crits Pro Men. He is consulting teams to see if the new final would be feasible, Dixon says.

Currently, Luke Keough (Team Mountain Khakis p/b SmartStop) leads the series in the mens field with Clayton Barrows (Stan’s No Tubes / AXA Equitable / CRCA) and Christian Helmig (ELBOWZ RACING) in second and third, respectively.

Dixon said there will not be a new womens final, meaning that Erica Allar (RideClean p/b Patentit.com) is the presumed womens series champion.

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