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By Fred Dreier
Scott Tedro is the man who spearheaded the new US Cup, which has replaced the National Mountain Bike Series as the continent’s premier off-road racing series. VeloNews caught up with Tedro to discuss how the US Cup came together, how the series is organized and what mountain bikers can expect to see in the coming years.
This is part 2 of the conversation. Part 1 was published Thursday.
VeloNews: For many people in American mountain bike racing, the US Cup, Kenda Cup East, Kenda Cup West and USA Cycling Pro XCT model is still a bit confusing. How do you spell it out to people?
ST: The new US national series is called the US Cup. Within that is the Kenda Cup East and Kenda Cup West. Both are made up of six races, and are regional series. Of those, three of the East and three of the West races are ProXCT events.
So for the regional pro looking to win the Kenda Cup East, he’s going to hit all six races. His points will count toward the final race of the season, the East/West Shootout at Interbike. At that race he’ll compete against the highest point earner from the Kenda Cup West. The guy who scores the most points at that race is the US Cup National Champion.
The ProXCT, on the other hand, is for the highest level pros. The winner of that series will earn the No. 1 plate by USA Cycling. It’s a model that came from motocross. Ty Kady, our communications manager, came up with the idea and he’s a former pro motocross rider. It allows people to stay in their region and not have to jump across the country to follow a series. At the end of the whole thing we’ll have four champions. The two regional champs, a ProXCT champ and a unified national champ.
Maybe you’re just a regional guy and you don’t want to go to Vegas. That’s fine. We track points from Cat III all the way up to pro in the regional series. But maybe the regional pro chases the series and goes to Vegas, and if he can win the series he’s at Interbike and can get some sponsorship to ride the ProXCT the next year. It’s like a farming system.
VN: So what else do you have on your plate for the future?
ST: The big announcement is that we signed a three-year agreement with USA Cycling to work exclusively with promoters to become a US Cup event. We’re going to have 18 races next year, six in the east, six on the West Coast and six in the Midwest. Any promoter that wants to be a US Cup will work with Kelli Lusk. We’ll have an approval process for them to show us they have the capabilities to put on the event. It will be a bid process, and if the promoter can show USA Cycling that they can put on an event, we will go with them. (The US Cup) is like a sanctioning body but also a governing body. We’re the holder of the series, but it will be made up of multiple promoters who have gone through USA Cycling to get the bid process down.
We want to work with USA Cycling because we believe in them. We wanted to support them in the beginning, but we had some difficulties. They were very cynical and standoffish because they had been beat up in the past. But with each successful event we’re seeing the support come up from USA Cycling.
Another thing is that we’re closing a deal for a six-episode reality TV show that will follow six pro riders, each rider for a different event. We want to get a film crew at each ProXCT event to film the trials and tribulations of the riders, pro and entry-level pros alike.
VN: How will this change the format of the series for next year?
ST: USA Cycling will still have its seven ProXCT events. Our fantasy is to have two East, two Midwest and two West coast events.
VN: I understand that you want to spread the US Cup to other areas of the country. But how will you try to get into areas where race promoters are vehemently opposed to being part of USA Cycling?
ST: You know, I will leave names out on this one, but I’ve been dealing with a big event in the Pacific Northwest that is totally opposed to working with USA Cycling. It costs a license and more money, plus there’s some history of negativity between promoters and USA Cycling. Some people are angry with them for whatever reason. The message I’m trying to send is that one: USA Cycling has changed. Kelli Lusk has made a huge difference in the way they deal with promoters. And two: USA Cycling wants to see success as well. They don’t want to put money into races if things are going to be substandard. The key is going to be to try and get the promoters excited too, and to find a way to be flexible and work a deal with them. I think also this series is going to sell itself once people see the kind of energy we have at our events.
VN: I can understand why some people are wary of you, Scott. You have come into the sport with lots of energy and money and have really improved things, but the question is whether you are going to stick around for the long haul. I have to ask you what kind of a financial burden this has been on you and your company.
ST: Well the economy has been tough and we’ve faced some financial challenges. What I need more than ever at this time is for people to use my company. We’re a shipping company. We specialized in high-value shipments and trade shows. A guy from the Garmin-Slipstream team just reached out to me, he said he loved what I was doing for mountain biking, and I got their stuff to an event in Spain. That’s what I need. And I will take the revenues brought in by the cycling industry and put all profits back into the US Cup. I think the industry would want that.