Axing of US cyclo-cross series highlights need for clearer rules

USA Cycling aim to protect promoters with education

Any healthy sport needs rules – strictures to guide athletes and put the focus on the competition. However, when the rule book expands into a rule library, you need someone to sort out the resulting bureaucratic tangle.

USA Cycling is one such organisation. Their Promoters Summits provide a platform for race organisers to discuss the direction of cycling in the US, while highlighting rules set by the International Cycling Union (UCI).

“Covering UCI rules is part of the summit,” said USA Cycling’s Andrea Smith. “Any sort of rules, updates and changes is a part of the summit. We go over the latest USADA standards, offer a chance for people to ask questions and inquire about any changes or rule updates.”

You may scoff at the need for such gatherings, but the consequence for not interpreting a rule properly could be as severe as a suspension. For example, the Verge New England Championships Cyclo-cross Series (NECCS), directed by former UCI cyclo-cross commission member Adam Myerson, was recently banned for not adhering to a code that required the series to seek UCI registration. The individual races will still go ahead but the series as a whole will not attract UCI status.

“I think USA Cycling should be as disappointed as we are to have lost an American series,” said Myerson. “Going forward, I think it is important to have clearer communication and interpretation of the UCI rules from USA Cycling to its promoters. A good place to do that is at the Promoters Summits and just in the day-to-day communications.”

According to USA Cycling’s chief operating officer, Sean Petty, the organisation doesn’t have a say in the UCI’s rule decisions. However, it will step in and act on promoters’ behalves in a case such as the NECCS banning.

 “We always support US events and we have discussions with the UCI and certainly go back to them and ask for an explanation,” Petty said. “We ask them if their decision was in the best interest of growing the sport. That’s always our goal, regardless of the UCI’s decisions. We have to be aware of these types of things and fight on behalf of the organisers when something like this comes down.”

USA Cycling has not been idle on the education front either. This year’s third annual Road and Mountain Bike Promoters Summit saw roughly 175 race organisers invited to collaborate at the USA Cycling headquarters in Colorado Springs in November. The agenda included regulations that govern non-professional and professional cycling events so that promoters can better educate themselves about the key factors involved in running a legitimate bike race.

It is nearly impossible to cover all rules during a summit, though, so the organisation has many other outlets to communicate with its promoters, including its website, monthly news letters, direct emails to USAC members, press releases and social media, such as Facebook and Twitter.

Promoters are also free to contact regional co-ordinators and member service representatives. Furthermore, promoters of UCI events who are unclear about a rule are encouraged to call USA Cycling’s technical director, Shawn Farrell, or a chief official appointed by the UCI.

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