There has been a lot of talk—maybe too much talk—about this next issue. Yes, I’m talking about the introduction of a time-trial qualifier at ‘Cross Nationals. What was proposed at last weekend’s “Cyclocross Promoters Summit p/b USA Cycling” was a bit confusing and not necessarily explained well in the blogosphere. Thankfully, USA Cycling has now weighed in and issued a press release. Most of the release is about what a great time everybody had at “Cyclocross Promoters Summit p/b USA Cycling.” If you want to read about that, the full release can be found here.
What interests us, however, was in one of the last paragraphs in the release. And it’s not as bad as first portrayed on the Interwebs and by no means a done deal. As you will see, the time-trial will not disqualify anybody from starting a race. Its purpose, for now, is to determine starting positions after the top eight for non-elite category racers. Here is the relevant language from USA Cycling:
“USA Cycling staff presented the idea of conducting a time trial at the Cyclo-cross National Championships to create the call-up procedures for the non-elite category riders. The top eight finishers in each category will continue to be called up first. The time trial will offer all participants (for those categories that are not seeded by UCI points), the opportunity to vie for start position via a time trial held on a separate course. All participants, whether they choose to compete in the time trial or not, will retain the right to compete in the their race category with those opting not to contest the time trial called-up behind the last time trial qualifier. The final details on the time trial rules, schedule, process and the time trial course set up will be established and announced by July 1.
Any and all discussions pertaining to the UCI Cyclo-cross World Championships are preliminary as the International Cycling Union (UCI) retains all rights to final decision making on world championship policy.”
Is this good, bad, flawed, perfect. Heck, I don’t know. But at least the proposed changes are a little clearer and from the horse’s mouth. You may now discuss amongst yourselves.
2 thoughts on “USA Cycling Explains That CX Time-Trial Thang”
Full disclosure: I’ve never raced Nats so take the following for what it’s worth.
Well that makes me feel a bit better. Initial reports suggested that the time trial would determine whether participants could even start and that is grossly unreasonable. People should be able to travel to Nats and know they will be able to race.
I’m not a fan of using a time trial for start order–it strikes me as a temporary way to deal with the bigger problem which is field sizes for Nats. While initially it would be used to determine start order, eventually it would be used to determine who starts. And I think a TT used for that purpose is wrong for the reason above. In addition, mechanicals happen and it would be a shame for someone who is otherwise one of the strongest/fastest riders to have to start at the back OF THE RACE because of mechanical issue in the TT.
I’d rather see start order determined by points (USAC keeps some sort of points for the races I do–I have no idea how they work though) or by points awarded at a series of state or regional qualifying races. This strikes me as a better long term approach that ensures the consistently strong riders in a state/region get to race (at the front.)
I think it’s a great idea.
Using a national points system to assign call ups is flawed for a different reason – the inconsistent levels of performance among districts. A truly talented rider in a tough region may not get the points that a lesser rider in an easier district could accumulate. How is that any better?
Using the TT is fair. Sure, someone might have a mechanical but thats bound to be a statistical outlier. The rule could even be tweaked to allow re-starts for mechanicals in the TT.
Maybe the issue here really is the size of the fields at Nationals. I still see the TT as part of a solution. It would discourage people that don’t have a snowball’s chance in hell from signing up. If you know a start is not guaranteed, then you assume that risk when you sign up and you will only sign up if you believe you belong there.