Cycling Races: Intricate Infrastructure
Cycling is an enduringly popular sport, it’s also much more complicated than many realize – even serious fans. The athletic considerations are obvious. However, cyclists and sponsors must also comply with an extensive series of regulations with regard to licensing, team composition and race participation. Riders typically require a separate license for each discipline. Within the United States, cyclists, race officials, mechanics and support staff may obtain their licenses from USA Cycling.
Domestic Elite Competition
The most prestigious amateur team category is Domestic Elite. This classification was introduced in 2011 and is intended for experienced teams who have advanced beyond the club level but are not yet ready to register with the Union Cycliste Internationale, or UCI. Teams competing in races on the National Racing Calendar (NRC) and National Criterium Calendar (NCC) must have either Domestic Elite or UCI status. There are thirty four Domestic Elite teams (men’s and women’s) on the USA Cycling 2012 roster. Men’s teams include Landis, Cashcall Mortgage, Bissell, Astellas Oncology and XO Communications; the women’s list includes Vanderkitten-Focus, ISCorp, Team Kenda and Louis Garneau. These Domestic Elite teams are registered to compete in NRC and NCC races; they will join 16 professional tier UCI teams.
There are four categories of NRC races: stage races, mixed omniums, road races and certain UCI races. Single-day races must award a cash prize no less than $15,000; if the event takes several days, the minimum prize is $25,000. Teams may have no more than eight riders. NCC races may be single day criterium races with a circuit length not to exceed 5 kilometers, or criterium omniums not to exceed four days. In all cases the course must be completely closed; the use of cones is strictly prohibited. The cash prizes are the same as those awarded in NRC events.
The Redlands Classic
One of the most popular NRC races is the Redlands Classic, which was first held in 1985 as a men’s race but now features ladies’ racing also. This multi-stage event is traditionally the race in which cyclists appear signed to new teams for the season, wearing their new racing colors. The various stages of the Redlands Classic have changed dramatically since the inaugural race. The most infamous stage, Oak Glen, requires cyclists to perform three grueling climbs and race to the finish on top of a mountain.
NRC and NCC races use identical scoring systems. Riders compete for points; the top three riders from each team garner points for the team. Guest riders – those signed to another team – may compete as temporary members of another team in order to earn personal points. However, no points won by guest riders are applied to the team’s standing. If a guest is among the top three riders on his or her team, the fourth-fastest full member will be awarded team points.
Champion’s Profile: Chris Horner
American Chris Horner is one of the elite cyclists who have dominated NRC races. Horner, a road racer and native of Bend, Oregon, led the nation in NRC points in 2002, 2003 and 2004. His highest-profile win to date was the 2011 Tour de California, which he won when he was 39 years old; he is the oldest rider to win that race to date. The 40 year-old Horner currently races on the RadioShack-Nissan-Trek UCI Pro Tour team.
Author: Daria H.