2015 Arizona road calendar set

Two new omnium races and the return of Mormon Lake and Hillside headline Arizona road racing for 2015, according to a calendar unveiled Thursday by the Arizona Bicycle Racing Association.

Missing from the schedule are at least eight criterium races.

“Overall, I think this is a more balanced schedule than previous years,” ABRA vice president Joey Iuliano said. “There is a good mix of races and we can see the development of some new, exciting courses.”

Last year’s calendar included 19 crits and circuit races, four stand-alone road races, 13 time trials (not inluding hill climbs) and two stage races. In 2015, riders will choose from 11 crits and circuit races, four stand-alone road races, two omniums, 12 time trials and two stage races. The cyclocross and track schedules remain virtually unchanged.

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New to the calendar are two omniums – Catalina and Southern Arizona.

Catalina will combine the University of Arizona crit and the Oracle Road Race, scheduled separately last year, into a full-fledged omnium points weekend. Similarly, the new Southern Arizona omnium will be a combination of the Flapjacks Time Trial and the Colossal Cave Road Race.

“It’s a nice way to offer some extra upgrade points for riders,” Iuliano said.

The Hillside and Mormon Lake road races, missing or canceled in 2014, are back on this year. Mormon Lake and the Snowbowl Hill Climb, both near Flagstaff, have a new promoter, Iuliano said. Hillside, canceled last year, has been revived for 2015.

“I am thrilled to see these two road races back on the ABRA calendar,” Jen Camoriano (Two Wheel Jones) said. “Hillside is an excellent challenging course, and Mormon Lake has a little of everything. My kids have been asking me when we are going to Mormon Lake, as it was a fun camping experience for them. Not to mention it means a lot for Arizona, to support road cycling.”

The crit share of the calendar, what was a noticeable chunk last year, has whittled down to 11 races in 2015, one of which is in Yuma.

“A few crits are no longer with us [such as Bike Haus and Old Pueblo Grand Prix] due to a variety of reasons,” Iuliano said, citing relocation of some promoters and vacancy of a race director for Old Pueblo Grand Prix. “With the Copper Cup only including races from the first weekend of February through October, promoters moved some of their dates in accordance. Hopefully by 2016, January will be mostly clear, leaving room to develop bicycle racing clinics in Phoenix and Tucson to help educate and encourage new riders.”

Victor Riquelme (Body by Vi p/b Velo Vie) said he feels that last year’s calendar had a good balance between stage and crit races.

“Though I try to do all the local races, criteriums are definitely a focus for me and my team, not just in Arizona, but on the national calendar,” Riquelme said. “I hope that we can continue to see criterium racing develop in Arizona.”

The new calendar comes on the heels of the recent annual ABRA meeting, in which the board set the race schedule and planned a separate, additional meeting for race promoters.

The promoter summit, to be held in early 2015 in Phoenix or Casa Grande, will be a day-long series of meetings, discussions and presentations on issues facing Arizona racing, Iuliano said.

Those issues include growth, calendar length, permitting, improving women’s racing, refining the Copper Cup and more, he said.

“The [scheduling] meeting doesn’t provide enough time to address these issues,” Iuliano said. “Having an annual meeting will allow us to discuss and create plans for addressing concerns.”

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Sarah Muench