The United States is at risk of losing its biggest national cyclocross series as organizers are scrambling to fill a last-minute sponsorship shortfall for the U.S. Gran Prix of Cyclocross.
Series director Joan Hanscom told VeloNews on Tuesday that the USGP was facing cancelation because of a delay in sponsorship funds. Twenty-four hours later, however, a number of the series’ other sponsors had said that they would try to help cover the gap left by the shortfall, and Hanscom was hopeful that she could salvage the USGP.
“I began calling sponsors on Tuesday to notify them that the series would have to be canceled. I have been overwhelmed by reaction from our partners. While we have not closed the gap, we have a lot of great people trying to help us get there and save this USGP season.”
Exergy was to be the title sponsor of the seventh USGP series, as well as the 2013 elite world cyclocross championships in Louisville, Kentucky. The alternative energy firm has fallen on difficult financial times and is facing lawsuits from a number of parties, including vendors affiliated with the Exergy Tour in Boise, Idaho, and Virginia-based energy firm AES Corp.
Hanscom told VeloNews that her team was implementing a back-up plan and that Louisville was committed to hosting the worlds, set to take place in February.
“We have been working with the Louisville Sports Commission and USA Cycling to find a solution in case of a sponsorship shortfall. We are extremely fortunate to have such great partners.”
Sean Petty, chief operating officer at USA Cycling last week told VeloNews that he was working with the promoters to find a solution that would keep the world championships in the U.S.
“Exergy has committed to support USA Cycling and based on their previous history of meeting financial obligations to cycling teams and events we trust they will honor any outstanding commitments as soon as possible,” said Petty.
The 2012 U.S. Gran Prix of Cyclocross is scheduled for four weekends, with the Planet Bike Cup in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin, on September 22-23, the New Belgium Cup in Fort Collins, Colorado, on October 13-14, the Derby City Cup in Louisville on November 10-11, and the Deschutes Brewery Cup in Bend, Oregon, on December 8-9.
The loss of the USGP is particularly troubling for a number of female riders, as Exergy’s pledged support made way for the series to offer equal prize money to top finishers in the men’s and women’s fields in 2011.