After a successful first season in its new format, the USA Cycling U.S. Cup Pro Series presented by Sho-Air Cycling Group will go into its second year with four familiar venues and one exciting, classic addition, as the Sea Otter Classic will join as the fourth of five rounds! The series will be bolstered by the full support of the UCI, as the Fontana, Bonelli and Colorado Springs events have been awarded HC status.
“The Bonelli, Fontana and Colorado Springs events will be modern UCI cross-country formats,” said Scott Tedro, owner of the Sho-Air Cycling Group. “While Sea Otter is a throwback to the classic cross-country courses that today are closer to the marathon style of racing. We are so excited to add this legendary event and I want to personally thank Jeff “Frosty” Frost and Frank Yohannan for their continued contributions to the sport of mountain biking. I would also like to thank both Cannondale and Kenda for their generous contribution and belief in American cross country racing. This would not have been possible without their backing.”
“This is great news for mountain biking in the U.S.“, said Dave Manchester, Vice President of North American Sales for Cannondale. “We’re excited to play a role in this renewed growth in American racing.”
Sea Otter’s Jeffrey Frost: “We have had a long-term successful relationship with Scott Tedro, and are thrilled to see this successful US CUP continue. We’re proud to include Sea Otter as a part of this series.”
The addition of Sea Otter further enhances the international profile of the event, as many international mountain bike stars are looking forward to participating in this legendary event and taking advantage of the abundant supply of UCI points available in the U.S. CUP.
“I’m looking forward to starting my season under the Californian sun,” said three-time World Champion Nino Schurter. “The feedback in the racing scene of last year’s U.S. Cup was excellent. I was at Sea Otter when I was a young under-23 rider and it’s great to be back.”
Nino’s team manager and mountain bike legend Thomas Frischknecht had similar thoughts on the announcement: “I’m delighted cross country racing in the US is coming back so strongly. It is so important for the sport of mountain biking to have races in the country where the sport was born. As I did all of the Sea Otter Classic in the early days, I’m looking forward to come back.“
When asked about these upcoming events, Specialized’s Ned Overend, the first Mountain Bike World Champion stated, “We’re proud to continue to support the efforts of Sho-Air. The success of these events are bringing the best riders in the world over here and we’re excited to see the U.S. deserving of the world’s attention again.”
The series kicks off on March 14 with the Bonelli Park C1 event. This is followed up the next weekend at Fontana City for an HC event on March 21. Three weeks later on April 11, Bonelli Park returns to the schedule with its HC event being held one week before the Sea Otter Classic (a UCI C3 event) on April 18. The overall champions will once again be crowned in Colorado Springs on June 27 at the UCI HC-rated finale near the USA Cycling headquarters.
“I would like to thank Scott and his team at Sho-Air for their extraordinary support of the series,” said USA Cycling CEO and President Steve Johnson. “We are thrilled to see the U.S. Cup Series grow in both stature and number as we head into the second year of competition. To have three of the events awarded HC status adds even more prestige to the series and we look forward to hosting the final race once again in the hometown of USA Cycling’s headquarters, Colorado Springs.”
Once again, the U.S. CUP will offer flag-to-flag live streaming of the women’s and men’s Elite races, to be hosted on USA Cycling’s YouTube channel. Also, the rich (and equal payout for women and men Elite) prize purse and UCI points on offer will bring some of the best cross-country mountain bike racers in the world to race the series.
“I’m really excited to toe the line again against an international field,” said Olympic bronze medalist Georgia Gould. “The equal prize money helps to attract a top notch women’s field. I want to race against the best, and to be able to do that in the U.S. is really extraordinary.”
Other items, like the coveted MMA-style championship belts, custom designed trophies by Baghouse, and handsome leaders’ jerseys supplied by new partner Sugoi Performance Apparel will remain, while one more important addition will be launched in 2015.
“The Bonelli HC and Colorado Springs races will now run UCI Junior categories,” explained Tedro. “We see this as an important addition to provide a step for those young athletes who are looking to make that bold move towards a professional career.”
Sho-Air Cycling Group also announced the continuation of the popular eight-round Kenda Cup West series, along with the exciting addition of the new five-race Kenda Cup East series.
“We’ve heard the cries from the East Coast mountain bike community,” explains Tedro. “And I’m proud to announce this series. It will feature five races in New England, one of which will be a USA Cycling Pro XCT and UCI category C1 event. More details to come, but we’re excited to bring this level of racing to a new audience.”
“Kenda believes in cross country racing, and we certainly believe in Sho-Air’s ability to grow the sport, said Kenda’s MTB Marketing Manager Roger Hernandez. “This series signals a turning point and Kenda is proud to be a part of it.”
The 2015 USA Cycling U.S. Cup schedule is as follows:
Round 1: March 14 – Bonelli Park, San Dimas Calif. (UCI Category C1)
Round 2: March 21 – Fontana, Fontana City, Calif. (UCI Category HC)
Round 3: April 11 – Bonelli Park, San Dimas, Calif. (UCI Category HC)
Round 4: April 18 – Sea Otter, Monterrey, Calif. (UCI Category C3)
Round 5: June 27 – Colorado Springs, Colo. (UCI Category HC)
Photo © Christy Nicholson / EchelonDesignPhoto.com