National Cycling League

The National Cycling League (NCL) has announced their two teams’ rosters today. There’s been a lot of talk about this new cycling venture in the US. They claim to have heavy hitting financial backing and hope to bring cycling (specifically crits) to the forefront of sports in the US. I’ve searched the forum and haven’t found much chatter about it.

The NCL - will it sink or float? Will it change the game for cycling in the US? How will this impact USAC?

I want to be optimistic about this venture, but have guarded enthusiasm.

I think this is about the 5th or 6th time I have seen this idea recycled….I think that tells you all you need to know about the concept’s viability.

I hope they prove me wrong….but I’ve seen this movie before.


I wonder how many teams there will be? I’ll do my best to be a fan, but The Disruptors is a horrible name for a team, imo, and Miami is the opposite corner of the country from where I live. I’m hoping there’s a Portland or Seattle team. I think they’ll need at least a 8 teams to make it a meaningful league.

edit: just went on their website and saw that there will only be the two teams for 2023. I wish 'em the best but that doesn’t make any sense to me. What you need is enough to make a compelling story, and two teams isn’t enough, imo.


I’ve got the same skepticism. I SO want it to work and be amazing. Hoping history doesn’t repeat itself - it’s a tough time to form something like this in today’s economic climate.

That said, I’ll support the heck out of it to see it grow! More people on bikes is always a plus in my book.

My impression is that these are the in-house teams but other pro teams will be competing as well, right? The rollout hasn’t been great and the format seems extremely confusing. Agreed that the Disruptors is an absolutely terrible name. I can only imagine how much they paid a consultant to come up with it.

The first race is on GCN+ right now. I hope to see this grow. It could definitely do with some more production like live speed and power data. The drone cam is nice but weird how the camera is a weird color tone.

I watched the race - interesting timing to place it adjacent to Paris-Roubaix.

A few takeaway thoughts:

  • The two NCL formed teams absolutely dominated the race in both the women’s and men’s races. This makes me wonder about the NCL payouts and their respective “salaries” as NCL sponsored teams. I’m particularly interested to see how their Triple and Quadruple Crown bonuses will play out (as seen below)

  • I hate to say it, but the sprint every lap made this race possibly the most boring bike racing I’ve ever seen. Team tactics were non-existent, and the men’s field was decimated, leaving less than 20 riders to finish. The women raced hard, albeit the same breakaway situation where all the points were gobbled up.

  • I wonder about the long-term viability of this format and also what GCN+ was thinking, inking a multi-year tv deal. The lawyer side of me has so many questions about compensation, funding, contracts, etc.

Criterium racing has become a quintessential hallmark of American bike racing. However, I don’t think this is “it.” Waiting to see how the 3 additional races go and to see if the NCL survives its inaugural year.

1 Like

Welp…things not looking good for the upstart cycling league.

In return for signing non-disclosure agreements and returning all of their team-issued equipment, laid-off riders were reportedly offered the opportunity to buy equity in the company.

LOL…yeah, we are laying you guys off because our revenue stream doesn’t support the contracts we made with you. But if you give us back all that equipment, we’ll then let you invest your own money in the failing business you just got laid off from because it wasn’t working. Trust us, this is a sound investment opportunity.

I’d tell them to pound sand and keep the equipment to sell it and help pay my bills.


Stupid moves like this materially set back the sport way beyond just back to square one like it never happened. Sad to see,

@Rondal is right… Yet another “own goal” by cycling…

Yea, if it’s not in the contract I’d absolutely keep everything.

I actually hope the NCL can make it. It had a boring first race but the second and third races were actually pretty good. The Atlanta race was one of the most exciting US races all year. I’d rather watch that than something like Tulsa Tough where it’s pretty much the same race over every year where you can skip to the last 5-10 laps. I think the courses make 90% of the action so that helped, but the points still make the majority of the race more engaging than normal crits.

1 Like

What’s more is that the NCL announced the formation of a new team less than 24 hours after the call which saw 20 riders laid-off.

I’m wondering if the league complied with their purported payout for the winning teams - I can see them trying to escape because they didn’t hold 4 races, as originally planned.

I think we’re going to see some developments and fallout from this - but the NDAs are worrisome.

1 Like

I predicted this debacle back at the top of the thread….I’ve seen this movie way too many times over the years. Some group gets a wild idea to starts a city-based “league”….they get a bunch of big-name investors….go for one season……fold.

This development doesn’t surprise me in the slightest unfortunately.

1 Like

As a fan of American cycling, I had optimism. But was admittedly skeptical. I guess we’ll see what the fallout looks like.


Like I said…I’ve seen this movie before.

1 Like

Is cycling dead in the states

I think Crit racing is. I think it still has regional pockets of higher participation. But I don’t see any of these national series succeeding.

This announcement sucks for the riders, but fool me once…

I don’t fully agree. The ACC is still as big as ever and USA Crits is making a comeback this year. You still have big series like Tour of America’s Dairyland, Chicago Grit (Intelligentsia), Speed Week, Tulsa Tough, Gateway Cup. I did the Tour of Somerville weekend over Memorial Day and we had 120 guys in the cat 2/3 field, and close to 100 in the 3/4 fields. The Pro fields were sold out if I remember correctly. Just did the Tour of Newport News and every field had 60-70 guys. And I wouldn’t even call those national events. I feel like the east coast is doing ok at least.

I think the NCL is/was a nice fresh idea. I just think it was cursed from the start due to where the money was coming from and what the goals were. It wasn’t run as a bike race or cycling focused series. It was run like a startup with the only goal of making a quick profit. And we’ve seen that isn’t really possible with bike racing. The racing was almost a sideshow which is really weird because that should have been the main focus. But if you watch the Atlanta race and watch Jonathan Crain’s behind the scenes video, you’ll see why it failed. It was a closed course, not open to the public. It was a party for the investors with a bike race that happened to be in the background. He said at one point he was the only person actually watching the race. Most people were there to socialize with each other, drink the booze, eat the catered food, network. It wasn’t a bike race with a party in the background. It was a rich person networking event with racers as paid entertainment. The racers and racing was always less important. It just felt like it was never the focus. The investors put in all this money thinking they could turn a profit but soon realized that bike racing in America isn’t profitable. Not to mention they were throwing around cash like they were World Tour teams. Which I’m sure for the riders was cool to experience for the year getting the pro treatment with kit, bikes, training and such. But I think most people could see it wasn’t sustainable.

What I do hope from this is that race promoters take the good parts and maybe try to create some new and different races. I thought the points style race was kind of cool. Maybe implement something similar or do something besides just a scratch race. Maybe have a separate award for intermediate sprints. Have 5 or 10 prime laps that aren’t for individual prizes but points for a separate prize. So you have a podium for the race winner and another one for the sprints winner. Or just go ahead and make the whole race a points race. Try something different. Make your race stand out.


This is exactly what I said in the post mortem thread on r/velo.

Crain is a smart guy. His NCL podcast is worth the time, and he’s right: there’s no need to create separate races. Partner with the existing established races.