Cyclocross Saved

Sponsors race to rescue U.S. Gran Prix of Cyclocross just in time to get dirty

Only weeks after the U.S. Gran Prix of Cyclocross (USGP) was canceled due to a funding shortfall, organizers announced—just in time for cyclocross season—that several major brands have stepped in to pick up the slack. In other words, the race will go on.

Exergy Development Group was to be the title sponsor, but recently fell on hard financial times. When its sponsorship check never materialized, USGP announced that the four-race series—North America's premiere showcase for top cyclocross talent—was in danger. Brands including Trek (the new title sponsor), SRAM, WD-40 Bike, RadioShack and Clif stepped in to fill the funding gap, USGP director John Hanscom announced last week. This announcement comes just in the nick of time, with the first race in the series only two weeks away and the cyclocross season kicking off in earnest over the weekend with the 2012 edition of Ellison Park Cyclocross in Rochester, NY.

For the uninitiated, cyclocross is a on-road/off-road cycling discipline in which riders navigate mud, grass, gravel, pavement, sand and mulch on a one- to two-mile circuit course, shouldering their cycles where terrain is too steep and wooden barriers block their path. Cyclocross was born in northern Europe's cycling heartland—Belgium, Netherlands and France—where it's wildly popular as a spectator sport. It's growing here in the States, and high visibility races like those on the USGP circuit are a big part of that. Here's a full schedule for the USGP, and a quick video of cyclocross to get you pumped for the new season:

• The Planet Bike Cup—Sun Prairie, WI on September 22nd and 23rd
• The Fort Collins Cup—Fort Collins, CO on October 13th and 14th
• The Derby City Cup—Louisville, KY on November 10th and 11th
• The Deschutes Brewery Cup—Bend, OR on December 8th and 9th