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In late August, USA Cycling announced a series of changes to 2014-2015 cyclocross season. The two rule changes that created the largest stir were the adjustments of qualification eligibility for cyclocross nationals, which will be held in Austin, Texas in January 7-11, 2015.
In years past, racers have been allowed to compete in both the masters and elite fields at cyclocross nationals, provided that the rider is eligible to compete in both of the respective categories.
The first of the recent rule changes prohibits racers from contesting multiple national championships and will only allow riders to compete in one event.
“We are hoping to prevent riders from ‘double-dipping.’ Our goal is to steer people into one category of racing, when traditionally, a certain segment of participants have been able to compete in two or more races,” said Pete Webber, chairman of the USA Cycling cyclocross committee.
He cited the reasoning that elite racers eligible to compete as masters often have an unfair advantage of having team support and devotion to full-time training and racing. They also might enjoy a theoretical advantage of racing on the course prior to the elite race — which takes place later during the national championships.
The second rule change relates directly to the elite races and qualification requirements.
“Elite riders are required to race in some number of Pro CX races in order to compete at nationals,” said Webber. “This is the first year with this rule, and this is something that people aren’t used to, but are accepting of.”
The new rule states that a rider is eligible to compete in the elite race if they are ranked in the top 90 riders in the Pro CX standings.
“Right after we update the Pro CX points after the December 7 weekend, we will announce that the top 90 riders in the Pro CX [who] are eligible,” USA Cycling vice president of national events Micah Rice said in an email. “If there is a rider who can sneak their way into the top 90 AFTER that point, we will accept them as qualified. However, we won’t kick out anyone who ends up slipping OUT of the top 90 after the December 7 date.”
As expected, opposition was stated by a number of racers to both rule changes. Ultimately the cyclocross committee is hoping to create balanced fields in both the masters and elite races.
USA Cycling will proceed with the rule changes for the upcoming national championships before making the rules permanent.
The cyclocross national championships will take place January 7-11 at Zilker Park in Austin, Texas.
USA Cycling cyclocross committee members
Commissaire — Dorothy Abbott
At-large — Stuart Thorne
UCI Race Director — Brook Watts
Coach — Mark Fasczewski
Local Association Representative — Tom Mains
Eligible Athlete (M) — Tim Johnson
Eligible Athlete (F) — Katie Compton
Masters Athlete — Pete Webber
Industry — Matt Shriver