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The new criterium series, the National Cycling League (NCL), is aiming to get UCI teams from the U.S. and abroad to race in its events next season.
The NCL is a four-race series of invitational criteriums that will launch in 2023 with a prize pot of $1 million up for grabs. While there will be separate men’s and women’s races, the overall winner will be decided by totaling up the points earned by each team’s male and female lineups and adding them together.
Speaking on the Bobby & Jens podcast, NCL vice president Kelly Staley said that the series wanted to reach out to teams that didn’t usually race criteriums in the U.S.
“The way that the event is structured as an invitational will allow us to approach and engage UCI teams, but we don’t necessarily have to be a UCI-sanctioned event as we’re invitational,” Staley said. “The reason that they’re invitationals is that it gives us the latitude to go out outreach to teams outside of the U.S. criterium pool of teams, so to speak.”
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A total of 12 teams will line up at each event with six riders per squad, making a peloton of 72 riders for each race. Two of the teams, which will have both male and female rosters, will be run and managed by the NCL franchise.
Those teams will effectively be trade squads and the NCL intends to send them to races outside of its own criteriums.
“We will be fielding two teams and each team will be comprised of eight men and eight women. A total of 32 athletes will be under the NCL umbrella,” Staley said. “For lack of a better term, there will be team black and team gold and they will race in all four of our events, and also, we will be putting those two teams out into the rest of the criterium world. We will then fill the field with already established teams out there that are racing criterium events in the U.S. and the rest of the world right now.”