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Austin scrubs U.S. cyclocross nats over park concerns; races pushed to Monday

Sunday’s USA Cycling Cyclo-cross National Championships in Austin, Texas, have been canceled, according to the national governing body.

USA Cycling, organizers and the city parks department were left scrambling to assemble an alternative championship circuit for Monday.

The Austin Parks and Recreation Department announced via Twitter on Sunday, after four days of racing, that the championship races for juniors 15 and up, U23s and male and female elites had been canceled “over concerns for the turf and root zone exposure” at Zilker Park, which received nearly two inches of rain over Saturday night and into Sunday.

USA Cycling had announced earlier that the championships would be postponed “until further notice” due to inclement weather, with communications manager Kevin Loughery saying damage to the course “has exceeded the expectations by the city of Austin and Parks and Recreation Department, and they are concerned about another day of racing.”

“We are doing everything in our power to make sure these races go today,” Loughery added. “It is our number one priority to run this event for our riders, and we are working diligently with the City of Austin to make this happen.”

But later in the morning USA Cycling announced via Twitter: “ALERT” #cxnats is officially cancelled. Austin police have asked ppl at the park to start vacating immediately.”

After a furor on social media, that announcement was followed shortly by another: “Racing will resume tomorrow at noon local. All categories. Details to come.” USA Cycling then posted a revised race schedule on its website.

Micah Rice, vice president of national events for USA Cycling, told VeloNews: “Racing today is canceled, but we have the ability to race tomorrow, starting at noon. We have a lot of work to do, but we’re going to do everything we can to make this happen tomorrow. Please understand we did everything we possibly could to race today.”

The races will be run at Zilker, but using a different track, Rice said.

“It’s not going to turn into a grass crit, but we have to take some sections out,” he said.

Also out: a number of racers who couldn’t or wouldn’t spend another day in Austin. Elle Anderson, who flew back to the U.S. from Europe for nationals, said she will return to Europe on Monday, as scheduled, and look toward the world championships.

Former national champion Tim Johnson told VeloNews that the extent of the event had an outsized effect on Zilker Park — and, ultimately, on Sunday’s marquee contests.

“This is forcing USA Cycling and U.S. promoters in general to look at operations in a different way,” he said. “So when you’re running a high volume of racers on course, the damage is a lot different than a one-day or a two-day race plus practice sessions. This is more than 2,000 riders, practice laps, race laps, non-championship events.

“So while those races were really fun, great to watch, something that a lot of people look forward to, it’s coming at the cost of Sunday’s racing.”

Editor’s note: Stay tuned to VeloNews.com for updates throughout the day.