USA Cycling’s Cyclocross National Championships, which were supposed to take place Sunday, were postponed until Monday after heavy rain left the Austin, Texas, course unfit for racing. The announcement that the planned races at Zilker Park were canceled sparked uproar on social media among competitors unhappy with the delay. Monday’s races are being held at Zikler Park.
According to VeloNews, the Austin Parks and Recreation Department announced via Twitter on Sunday that after four days of racing and two inches of rain on Saturday night, the championship races for juniors ages 15 and up, U23s, and male and female elites were canceled due to “concerns for the turf and root zone exposure.” Translation: City officials were concerned that the tree roots would be irreparably damaged from more racing.
“We’ve spent a large amount of money over the last few years, particularly in Zilker Park, protecting some of these trees, and we want to make sure we keep them viable and growing,” Sara Hensley, head of the Austin Parks and Recreation Department, said in a press conference.
Competitors voiced their anger on social media, even after USA Cycling followed up with an announcement that racing would resume Monday at noon. “That won’t help my 14-year-old and his team, whose flight back to Oregon leaves tonight. Cannot believe this,” Twitter user Sarah Douglass commented.
The delay also affected some elite riders. Elle Anderson, who placed second in the U.S. Cyclocross National Championships last year, couldn’t stay for her race because she was scheduled to head to Belgium to train for the world championships.
Professional rider Tim Johnson told VeloNews that the delay will force USA Cycling to take a harder look at its operations. “When you’re running a high volume of racers on course, the damage is a lot different than a one-day or a two-day race plus practice session,” he said. “This is more than 2,000 riders, practice laps, race laps, non-championship events. So while those races were really fun, great to watch, something that a lot of people look forward to, it’s coming at the cost of Sunday’s racing.”