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Eckmann to contest U.S. nationals, hopes for German worlds selection

After fearing he could be excluded from contesting worlds, the dual citizen is eligible to ride for Germany

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MADISON, Wisconsin (VN) — Yannick Eckmann (Cal Giant-Specialized) may just fly his German-American flag at the UCI Cyclocross World Championships in February after all. First, however, the odds-on favorite in Saturday’s U23 race has turned his attention to the USA Cycling Cyclocross National Championships, where he is eligible to win the stars-and-stripes jersey.

When VeloNews caught up with Eckmann in November, he feared he would be excluded from competing in both the worlds in February and nationals this weekend due to his 2012 change of citizenship status.

Eckmann, however, will race in Verona, Wisconsin, on Saturday, and expects to race for Germany in Louisville, Kentucky, in February’s world championships.

The German native was granted dual German-American citizenship on September 11th, 2012, after residing in the U.S. with his family for more than half his life. With a likely move to the U.S. National Team in his near future, Eckmann expected the German federation to leave him out of its worlds selection.

At the same time, it had appeared that the UCI would bar him from representing the U.S. in national and world championship races, based on Rule 1.1.033, which reads:

The rider who validly chose his new nationality can be selected by the national federation of his new nationality and represent it in events mentioned in [section] 1 as from the second calendar year he chose his new nationality.

“I got my new (UCI) license with a new USA Cycling code, so it should be everything taken care of,” Eckmann told VeloNews this week. “With the rule of switching nationality and everything there’s always a question of what you can do and what you can’t.”

Eckmann’s Cal Giant team announced on Thursday night that he would be allowed to contest Saturday’s U23 championship race in Verona, but will not be eligible to don the stars-and-stripes jersey. USA Cycling technical director Shawn Farrell contradicted this, however, in an email on Friday: “Yannick is now a full USA citizen for cycling and eligible to win the jersey… he began the process last year and his UCI code was changed on 1/1/13.”

So, Eckmann appears to be in the interesting place of leaving Verona a U.S. national champion hoping to join the German team at the world championships in three weeks’ time.

The second calendar year from the date of Eckmann’s citizenship change begins January 1, 2014, meaning he will then be eligible to compete for the U.S. over the final weeks of the 2013-14 cyclocross season.

“For the world championships and the World Cup, I still have to race for Germany,” he said. “Since the world championships are in the U.S., they’re going take me on, since it’s so close already.”

Paradoxically, he would not be eligible to race the German national championships, since his UCI license now shows a USA Cycling number.

As of January 1, 2014, Eckmann says he will “finally” be able to race for the U.S., which is his plan for the future. Germany still has the right to select him for races until that time.

“It’s just a lot easier for us on the road — because that’s what I’m looking at as well,” Eckmann said, explaining that racing European events with the U.S. is easier because he can train locally with a team. “Germany doesn’t take us because (road is) a team sport, so you have to be there to train with them, so that was always conflicting.”

Eckmann’s family moved to the United States in 2004 for his father’s work — Juergen Eckmann is the president of apparel company Pearl Izumi — but Eckmann says that recently, working on his citizenship issues has been a major hindrance for both himself and his brother, Robin, who also races for Cal Giant.

“Since we actually moved here, after like two years it was our plan to be a U.S. racer and get our U.S. citizenship,” he said. “After we got that, with all the UCI rules we didn’t know what we can do, so it took a lot of conversing, emails back and forth and there was a lot of disappointment and then happiness again, so it’s been hard, but finally it’s been paying off now.”