Retired cyclocross racer Ryan Trebon and longtime cycling sponsor Sho-Air International will launch a new national pro cyclocross series in 2017 comprised of seven existing cyclocross races. The new series, called USCUP-CX, includes longstanding events KMC CrossFest (Sept. 31-Oct.1), Charm City Cross (Oct. 7-8), Cincinnati Cyclocross (Oct. 28-29), and Derby City Cup (Nov. 4).
The USCUP-CX races award points toward an overall series champion, with the professional male and female overall winners both taking a $10,000 prize. The series will also bring its own marketing infrastructure, video production, and media assets to the races.
“I want a platform where these racers can showcase their talents, I want to give them something big to focus on,” said Trebon, who works as director of operations for the new series. “My motivation is I want cyclocross racers to have real jobs racing again.”
The series is the brainchild of Trebon and Sho-Air International owner R. Scott Tedro, who has funded cross-country mountain bike races in the U.S. since 2009. Trebon retired from his 14-year professional career at the onset of the 2016-17 season. He said the idea for a national series sprung in part from a February interview with current U.S. cyclocross champion Stephen Hyde. In that interview, Hyde emphasized the need for a streamlined U.S. cyclocross series that could attract the country’s top riders.
“As for the domestic scene, we need a revamp on our series. We don’t have a series. The Pro CX is there, yes. It’s exciting to have that series, but it’s too big,” Hyde said.
Hyde’s comments reminded Trebon of the old U.S. Gran Prix of Cyclocross, which he won on five occasions. Launched in 2004, the USGP shuttered in early 2013 after presenting sponsor Exergy Development Group failed to fulfill its sponsorship obligations in 2011 and 2012. In the years following the series’s demise, no true national series rose to similar prominence. Instead, cyclocross racers had dozens of professional races to choose from under USA Cycling’s Pro CX calendar. In 2016, the Pro CX was comprised of 44 events.
Trebon lamented the loss of the USGP in a lengthy Facebook post after reading the interview.
“I mean, how many damn people from various parts of the industry including racers and promoters have to say this until something changes?” Trebon wrote. “The schedule has been completely [screwed] since the demise of the USGP.”
Trebon’s post sparked an online discussion with retired riders on the state of domestic cyclocross. It also caught the attention of Tedro, whose Sho-Air International is the presenting sponsor of the U.S. Cup, the country’s premiere cross-country mountain bike series. Within the U.S. Cup model, Sho-Air does not produce the races; instead, it brings added prize money, production value, and UCI inscription to existing events to lure the top professional riders.
Tedro approached Trebon about applying the same concept to cyclocross.
“I told Ryan, ‘let me go to USA Cycling and get them to give me their blessing to create a US Cup model for cyclocross so that everybody knows which races are the top races,’” Tedro said. “The more prestigious we can make these events, the more it benefits everyone.”
Trebon liked the idea, and the two set out to create the series. Tedro hired Trebon within Sho-Air’s Cycling Group to oversee the series.
USA Cycling will register the new series with the UCI, said Micah Rice, USAC’s vice president of special events, and it will receive top billing within the Pro CX calendar. The national governing body will also provide public relations assistance at the events.
“We’ll do whatever we can to support [USCUP-CX],” Rice said. “Anytime you have more resources coming into the sport it is a positive for the whole.”
Trebon said the series chose its 2017 races based on each event’s popularity amongst professional riders, and because the dates allow the top riders to compete without having to skip the European World Cup events. All of the races boast either a C1 or C2 standing on the UCI calendar.
“I want the [USCUP-CX] to be the priority for their U.S. aspirations,” Trebon said. “Picking a weekend before or after a World Cup doesn’t work for that.”
In its inaugural season, the USCUP-CX will have Sho-Air as its only sponsor. Tedro said the series will not sell sponsorship that conflicts with existing deals owned by the individual events. Instead, he plans to sell sponsorship toward the final prize purse, which he hopes will grow to $50,000 for the 2019 season. The series will also feature press conferences before each race, video recap shows of each event, and additional marketing infrastructure through Sho-Air to attract local and national media.
“Cyclocross needed help getting a national series in place,” Tedro said. “We want the best of the best to be at these events.”
2017 USCUP-CX Schedule
KMC CrossFest, Thompson, Connecticut, Sept. 30-Oct. 1
CharmCity Cross, Baltimore, Maryland, Oct. 7-8
Cincinnati Cyclocross, Cincinnati, Ohio, Oct. 28-29
Derby City Cup, Louisville, Kentucky, Nov. 4