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U.S. calendars feature better travel flow in 2012

USA Cycling announced two of the three national road calendars this week and they are full of changes. The new National Criterium Calendar spins off from the National Racing Calendar and includes more than a month of southeast crits in the spring.

The NCC is new for 2012 and separates the criterium points competition from the very different NRC one-day and stage race competition. More so than in recent years, the calendar organizes events regionally, lightening the travel burden for teams, particularly in the first half of the season.

“Criterium racing is a discipline dominated by riders whose skill sets differ from those who dominate longer-format road races,” said USAC managing director of events Micah Rice in a release. “We’re excited to give this uniquely American discipline, as well as its top competitors, a chance to shine on its own.”

The criterium calendar includes 28 race days — 22 for women and 27 for men. The men open in Tampa, Florida, with the new Cigar City Brewing Criterium March 31. The women’s series rolls out two weeks later at the Presbyterian Hospital Invitational Criterium, which moves from August to April. Five weeks of racing run through the southeast, closing with USA Crits SpeedWeek finale, the Global Imports Sandy Springs Classic in Georgia.

The Harlem Skyscraper Classic joins the calendar this year, taking place on June 17, a week after the U.S. Air Force Classic down the road in Washington, D.C. Harlem wraps up a mid-Atlantic run that starts May 19 and includes stops in Wilmington, Delaware, and Somerville and Basking Ridge, New Jersey.

The TD Bank Mayor’s Cup is the final race for the men and women and moves back one week to September 23.

The NRC sees changes on the front end with the SRAM Tour of the Gila and Joe Martin Stage Race swapping places. The move should improve Gila’s position as a prep for the Amgen Tour of California, but will result in some teams being required to make tough roster decisions split between Gila, Joe Martin and SpeedWeek.

Redlands moves forward one week to March 22-25 with Joe Martin taking place a month later and Gila opening on May 2, just three days after the conclusion of Joe Martin.

Eight events comprise the NRC in 2012, with the finale for women coming at the Aspen/Snowmass Profession Women’s Race August 21-23. The men will close at the Univest Grand Prix September 15.

Missing from the national calendars this year are the Tour de Toona in Altoona, Pennsyvlania, and Labor Day Omnium in Anderson, South Carolina. The Fitchburg-Longsjo Classic was cancelled in June due to a large fire and will not rejoin the NRC next year. The Tour de Nez shrank to a criterium in August and will not return to either calendar next year, while the Evanston GP and CapCrit were midseason cancellations and do not appear on the calendars.

National Racing Calendar 2012
March 22-25: Redlands Bicycle Classic (2.2), Redlands, Calif. – men and April 26-29: Joe Martin Stage Race p/b Nature Valley (2.3), Fayetteville, Ark. – men and women
May 2-6: SRAM Tour of the Gila (2.2), Silver City, NM – men and women June 3: Liberty Classic (1.HC) – Philadelphia, Pa. – women
June 13-17: Nature Valley Grand Prix (2.1), Minnesota – men and women
July 17-22: Cascade Classic Stage Race (2.2), Bend, Ore. – men and women
Aug. 3-5: Tour of Elk Grove (2.3), Illinois – women only
Aug. 21-23: Aspen/Snowmass Pro Women’s Race (2.5.2), Aspen, Colo. – women only
Sept. 15: Univest Grand Prix (1.HC), Souderton, Pa. – men only

National Criterium Calendar 2012
March 31: Cigar City Brewing Criterium (1.4), Tampa, Fla. – men only
April 14: Presbyterian Hospital Invitational Criterium (1.1), Charlotte, N.C. – men and women
April 21: Sunny King Criterium (1.3), Anniston, Ala. – men and women
May 4-6: USA CRITS Speedweek (2.5.2), SC and Ga. – men and women
May 6: Dana Point Grand Prix of Cycling (1.2), Dana Point, Calif. – men only
May 12: Tour de Grove (1.2), St. Louis, Mo. – men and women
May 19: Wilmington Grand Prix (1.3), Wilmington, Del. – men and women
May 28: Tour of Somerville (1.2), Somerville, N.J. – men only
May 31: Base Camp International p/b Verizon Wireless (1.3), Basking Ridge, N.J.– men only
June 2: Glencoe Grand Prix (1.3), Glencoe, Ill. – men and women
June 8-10: Saint Francis Tulsa Tough (2.5.1), Tulsa, Okla. – men and women
June 9-10: Air Force Cycling Classic (2.5.1), Arlington, Va. – men and women
June 17: Harlem Skyscraper Criterium (1.4), Manhattan, N.Y. – men only
June 28-July 1: Tour of America’s Dairyland (2.5.2), Wisconsin – men and women
July 8: Manhattan Beach Grand Prix (1.2), Manhattan Beach, Calif. – men only
July 14: Exergy Twilight Criterium (1.2), Boise, Idaho – men and women
July 28: Herman Miller Grand Cycling Classic (1.2), Grand Rapids, Mich. – women only
Aug. 25-26: Chris Thater Memorial (1.2), Binghampton, N.Y. – men and women
Sept. 23: TD Bank Mayors Cup (1.4), Boston, Mass. – men and women

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