USA Cycling, the governing body for competitive U.S. cycling, has announced its selection of Madison as host for the 2012 and 2013 National Cyclo-cross Championships.
This is big.
The event is expected to draw one or two thousand elite cyclo-cross riders to Badger Prairie and Reddan parks for competition the week of January 4-8, 2012, with dates for 2013 to be announced.
Spectators might want to break out their PDAs and schedule some vacation time. Cyclo-cross is underappreciated in the U.S. and a blast to watch. It's a form of bike racing with elements of steeplechase and mandatory dismounts and remounts over terrain that is often steep and varied, and it bears some resemblance to the stump- and puddle-jumping aspects of international cross-country running. The likelihood of post-holiday chill and snow promises to render the competition even more intriguing.
Athletes at the national championships will be vying for spots on the national team slated to compete later in January at the world cyclo-cross championships in Louisville, Kentucky., to cap the 2011-2012 season.
The Madison Area Sports Commission has paired with Wauwatosa-based Team Sports Inc. to organize the event, which has been held in Bend, Oregon, the last two seasons and Kansas City the two years before that.
The two-year commitment comes on top of USAC's contract for Madison to host the 2010 and 2011 National Collegiate Road Race Championships. Madison's failure to land the Olympic cycling venues as part of Chicago's unsuccessful bid to host the 2016 Summer Games? Coups like these render such a receding memory all the more blurry and distant.