Qualifiers For Nationals?
Tom's Comment:I think it's a great idea, especially for races that don't have any qualifications. The Men's Elite races and Masters races, quite frankly, are a bit out of hand. Case in point: at last year's Nationals, Gannon Myall had the bad fortune of starting from the back - and lost his chance at a title (tho still raced like a champ to 4th). So...I think aside from previous top 10's and those w/ UCI points, everyone else should get thrown into a qualifier.
Regarding qualifiers - to continue the upward growth of this branch of cycling we've always thought a system of heats during Nationals could work. In the largest entry fields - think Elite Men, probably 3 different Master's Categories - each with 30 minute long heats of 60-75 max. They could be run with 25 or 30 best finishers advancing to the medal round. Only in extraordinarliy wide open courses like Providence in '05, '06 would a rider in the back 1/3 of races stand a chance of finishing, let alone contending for a medal. In a field of 60-75 riders you still get to race, not just particpate.
Everyone would still be able to participate in Nationals and the best riders would mostly move through the qualfiers to final. "Mostly" because who knows what flat tire or biff a contender could encounter in their heat and finish 10 places out of the finals. Bike racing.
The question is how much time would these heats require - KLM created a 4-day event this year in Kansas - is that enough time to add a qualifying day? Will Nationals become a 5-day affair with attendant rider costs to stay an extra longer? Staff costs for promoter for an extra racing day and extra earlier set-up days - lots of potential and lots of questions to be answered.
Would Masters, for instance, attend a separate Nationals just for them? 3 days for just Masters with qualifying heats on friday, medal rounds for qualifiers on sunday with saturday the medal rounds for smaller entry fields. Is there enough sponsorship money to separate categories - or enough competitors to support separate Nationals with their entry fee money?
And on a personal note: having wasted my call-up for this year's nationals, I know I'd sleep better next year knowing I'd have a chance to qualify for a good spot on the starting grid for Natz.
So it begs the question: would those riders who don't have aspirations of winning or even a top 10, still be enticed to come and race?