It’s more than time to take a closer look at the races on the 2011 USA Cycling National Racing Calendar or NRC. The pro road season opened up in the USA with a stage race, the 27th annual Redlands Bicycle Classic last week in California and ends with a criterium, the CapCrit p/b WCSA in Washington DC.
In 2011, the NRC has 30 events, 3 more than in 2010, divided into 8 stage races, 15 crits, only 2 one-day road races and 5 omniums. Of the 30 events, 17 offer up competition at the same-level (but not purse) for both pro/1 men and pro/1/2 women. Great news is that 7 of the stage races on the NRC are fielding men and women’s races, with the eighth offering an NRC race for women and a UCI race for men.
So what’s the prize for the rider, male or female, that wins the overall individual classification? What about the team that claims the overall team classification? Nothing, except press releases throughout the year. So bragging rights I guess is the answer. In 2011, Cath Cheatley and her Colavita/Baci team won both the individual and team classifications, Luis Amaran (Jamis/Sutter Home) took top spot atop the individual classification while Fly V Australia was on top of the team classification.
Races. Let’s take a closer look at the schedule and the races. No major changes to the schedule compared to last year except for the addition of the USA Crits Speedweek, a 7-race omnium for both men and women from April 30 to May 8. Unfortunately, that conflicts with the end of the Tour of the Gila and with the Joe Martin Stage Race, a sprinter’s stage race from May 5 to 8 in Fayetteville, AR.
Another conflict, for the men, is the 2-day omnium Air Force Cycling Classic in Arlington VA with the 3-day omnium Tulsa Tough in Tulsa OK on June 10 to 12. This year, Tulsa Tough is only on the NRC for the men but both men and women can win NRC points at the AFCC.
There is still criss-crossing the country for the teams, choices will have to be made with regards to travel expenses.
After years of economic difficulties, the Tour de Toona is back on the schedule as a 6-day stage race with a huge purse.The race did announce its return last year as a stage race after being forced to cancel the previous two years but then had to reduce the event to a one-day crit. The stage race is hoping to return strong and is even planning on a new stage with a mountaintop finish. Also back is the Tour de Nez in Reno, Nevada at the end of July.
The long-running Fitchburg-Longsjo Classic will once again take place over the July 4th weekend, but this time as a 1.3-rated criterium instead of its traditional stage race format. Two races no longer on the NRC are the Kelly Cup and the Marion Classic.
The first of the 8 stage races was the the Redlands Bicycle Classic held at the end of March. The end of April brings the SRAM Tour of the Gila in New Mexico, which was planning to go UCI for the men, but stayed NRC this year. A few weeks later is the Joe Martin Stage Race at the beginning of May. No more stage races to give time to the pro men to race at the Tour of California if invited, and the US Pro Championships which moved to May this year.
The next stage race is Nature Valley Grand Prix in Minnesota from June 15 to 19 followed by the USA Cycling Juniors, U23, Elite Road National Championships – US Nationals for everyone except the Pro Men. July brings three stage races, the Tour de Toona, the Cascade Cycling Classic in Oregon from the 19 to 24 and the Tour de Nez from the 27 to 31. The final stage race on the schedule is the Tour of Elk Grove which for the first time is offering up a stage race for women while its men’s race is now UCI-rated.
The omniums, calculated by points instead of time, are the already mentioned USA Crits Speedweek, the 2-day Air Force Cycling Classic on June 11 & 12 and the ‘revamped’ 4-day Labor Day Omnium in parts of Georgia and South Carolina on September 2-5 for men and women. The Wilmington Grand Prix has a 2-day omnium for men and a crit for women on May 21-22 in Wilmington DE.
Purses. According to USA Cycling, the 2011 NRC will pay out over a million dollars in total prize money. NRC races must follow specific rules with regards to purses for pro/1 men and pro/1/2 women, a minimum of $15,000 for one-day event, and a minimum of $25,000 for multi-day events. If the event is offering both Men’s and Women’s categories, at least one field must meet the minimum prize list as described above with the second field having no less than 50 percent of the minimum prize.
Not all races have posted the purses for this year but I did want to highlight a few races with regards to purses. The SRAM Tour of the Gila is offering up more money to the women ($19,000) than then men ($18,400) while the Tour of Toona is making it equal, $55,000.00 purse for the women, and the same amount for the men.
Redlands offered very close to equality with $25,430.00 purse for the men and $20,000.00 for the women. The Tour of Elk Grove, well known for its huge purse, has $110,000.00 on the line for the men in their UCI stage race and $15,100.00 for the women.
One big issue is the last crit on the schedule, the CapCrit p/b WCSA in Washington DC on October 2 which lists on its website a purse of $15,000 for the men and $250 for the women.
Stay tuned for more on NRC points and NRC UCI and Elite teams