Changes are afoot at The National Cycling League (NCL). America’s freshest take on pro cycling has announced a new host city, a cancellation of its originally slated finale in Washington D.C., and the welcoming of a new CEO.
Founded in 2021, the NCL is an invite-only, co-ed bike racing series that takes place in the heart of America's biggest cities, puts fans first and is willing to invest a lot of money to reignite cycling fandom in the U.S. The races themselves feature a unique format and set of rules intended to make bike racing more exciting. Indeed, the NCL’s series opener in Miami, Florida, in April proved promising as fans, both in-person and online, were treated to an action-packed evening of racing in Miami, Florida.
After a four-month break, the action is now set to continue on Saturday, August 12, in Denver, Colo, instead of a May 14 race that was previously slated for Atlanta, Ga
The Atlanta race will now take place just one week after the Denver appearance, with the team qualifier taking place on August 19. The original September series finale in Washington D.C. has been removed from the 2023 series, elevating the Atlanta race to the all-important series ending.
"With any startup, pivots will occur. [The schedule changes were] a necessary change to ensure we could put our full attention into 2024 and beyond," said Andrea Paganelli, the new Chief Executive Officer as of May, in a press release.
Paris Wallace, previously listed as CEO remains the NCL's Co-founder and President but makes way for Paganelli in the organization's CEO role.
Paganelli brings with her 15 years of experience in the sports industry holding executive roles in the NFL, NBA, MLS, NWSL, and Relevent Sports. She’s been named one of the Forbes’ 30 under 30, honored as “Woman of Influence” by the New York Business Journal, and is a graduate of Brown University where she was a D-1 soccer player.
"The National Cycling League is setting a new standard for inclusivity in professional sports by championing diversity. I was drawn to the opportunity to impact and transform communities through our mission,” commented Pagnanelli. “With more than 50 million cyclists in the U.S., we have an opportunity to grow the passion and excitement for the sport of cycling among the next generation of fans.”
At the race finale in Atlanta, one co-ed team will emerge victorious and claim the largest prize in the history of American criterium racing.
From the inception of the series, the NCL offered a 1-million-dollar prize purse, including a $700,000 prize if one team could sweep all four events and a $100,000 prize if a team managed to win three of the four races. It is unclear if that $700,000 USD prize is still up for grabs, but the League confirmed that teams would still compete for the end-of-season $130,000 Cup Bonus prize, separate from the $30,000 USD prize purse for each individual race. Additionally, the team that wins the overall will receive $45,000 USD, with the next-placed teams receiving smaller amounts.
The first race of the NCL Cup took place amid much fan-fare on April 8, at Miami Beach. The Denver Disruptors took the overall win, making them the only team possibly eligible for the that $700,000 prize.
The second race weekend, starting on August 12, will be taking place on The Denver Disrupter's home turf. The 10 teams will tackle a dizzying amount of laps around a one-mile course at the Dicks Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City, just outside of downtown Denver.
The team is coached by former Canadian pro cyclist Svein Tuft and sports an internationaI roster stacked with elite riders, former Olympians and past Tour de France participants. The team’s performance in the series opener was impressive, dominating the competition with a 45-point lead over fellow NCL-formed team, the Miami Nights in second place. Goldmans Sachs ETFS // Texas RoadHouse Cycling p/b VQ Labs finished third with 32 points.
The NCL Cup will come to a close on August 20 in Atlanta, Georgia, at the Porsche Experience Center. The final race will be a VIP-only event where participants will need to buy a ticket to get in. The two remaining race will be streamed live on GCN+.
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