The US Grand Prix of Cyclocross is the de-facto national championship series. It is the most important series on the calendar. All the races are UCI (International) ranked, and each weekend has one C1 ranked race. The only ranking a race can have higher than a C1 is the World Cup, and there are only nine C1 races in the US. Also, only one of the four stops on the USGP is a ‘split weekend’, where there are other UCI races on the US calendar on the same day.
Which basically means that this weekend’s cyclocross race is one of the biggest I’ll see all year. Every professional racer travelling the US (and wannabes) will be there to race.
This will be my third year competing, and his has been an interesting run for me at the USGP in Fort Collins. In 2010, I was racing to win the Cat 2/3 race for Cat 1 upgrade points, but also raced Elite, getting lapped and pulled from the race in 41st place. In 2011, I had my best placing yet in a UCI race (31st) on the first day. I was on track to finish within the top 30 on the second day, until I crashed late in the race breaking my collarbone and ending my season.
This year I should be finishing on the lead lap, but it will still take good legs and good luck. I won’t be getting a callup for the race, so my start position will be random. The , has 71 racers as of this writing, and start position is critical in a race of this size. I won’t be getting a callup at the big races until I receive UCI points, which are pretty tough to come by.
The points go 10 deep in a C2 race, and 15 in a C1. There are only four UCI races nearby, and all of them are too high profile for me to have a chance at points this season, especially without a callup. There are lower profile races on the calendar (especially on a split weekend), which I can likely score some points, but at this point I’m a bit torn on the decision to travel out of state in search of UCI points this season.
I don’t have any plans to go to Nationals this season, where a callup would be critical, but I will certainly be racing Nationals the following season (2014), when the race will be held across the street (literally) from my house. It seems that for a lot of guys about as fast as I am, that once you’ve got UCI points, they seem to keep coming more easily from year to year, as start position can be so critical in a cross race.
Anyway, back to the topic of this weekend’s race: If you’ve never been to a high profile race like this, it is a great event to spectate. The Elite Women start at 2:45, and the Men at 4pm. The races are Saturday and Sunday on the south side of Fort Collins at 5757 S College Avenue (Highway 287). I’ll leave you with a video from 2010′s edition of the race: