Category Archives: Opinion

Thoughts on racing.

Local, National Backlash Grows Against UCI Rule That Bars Riders From ‘Unsanctioned’ Races

David Trimble UCI USAC rule banned races

Red Hook Crit owner and race director David Trimble. (Photo courtesy of Red Hook Crit)

By Daniel McMahon

Last week I reported on a controversial rule from the International Cycling Union (UCI) that bars riders who hold a UCI license from competing in so-called banned or unsanctioned races.

The story appeared on VeloNews.com late Friday, and already it has received lots of comments that universally criticize both the UCI and USA Cycling (USAC).

The argument, at least from the U.S. perspective, can be boiled down to this:

On the one hand, USAC is saying it is merely enforcing the rule as it has been passed down from the sport’s global governing body, the UCI, to whose rules and regulations it is largely bound.

On the other hand, riders, race promoters, and fans are crying foul, alleging that the rule is bullshit and clearly an attempt by the UCI and USAC to stunt the growth of grassroots racing and squash any “breakaway leagues” that wish to operate independent of the UCI and USAC.

The rule affects lots of riders and races.

In 2012, for example, there were about 3,000 UCI license holders in the U.S., according to the USAC representative I spoke with, Sean Petty.

It’s a David-versus-Goliath struggle, and it appears that Goliath has won. Whether the governing bodies will change their minds is unclear, but today it looks extremely unlikely.

This means that in 2013 any of those UCI license holders who want to race can do so only if races are run by UCI or USAC, with few exceptions.

Speaking of Davids, David Trimble, owner and race director of the Brooklyn-based Red Hook Crit, has written a letter to USAC CEO Steve Johnson and published it on his Red Hook website.

Under the rule, Trimble’s race is considered unsanctioned and banned in the eyes of the UCI and, by extension, USAC.

Trimble has had great success with his race, and he makes some very good points in his argument.

Here’s an excerpt:

Dear Steve Johnson:

As the founder of the Red Hook Criterium I have tried hard to stay out of cycling politics. With the current rise of the RHC and the latest ‘clarification’ from the global and national sanctioning body I share my thoughts:

The announced enforcement of Rule 1.2.019 is the beginning of a civil war within the sport launched from above. With decades of scandals, corruption, erased record books and disgusting ‘win at all costs’ mentality the pinnacle of this sport isn’t really the pinnacle at all. The revolution in cycling is already here and unfortunately for the established guard it has not been launched on their watch. Stop gap efforts by the way of punishing athletes from competing in the countless number of beautiful, well organized, and occasionally lucrative unsanctioned events is going to backfire.

Read Trimble’s full letter here. Read my VeloNews.com story here.

Have your say in the comments.

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A Word From Samuel Abt About the Cobbles

 

samuel-abt-photo

A photo of Samuel Abt, taken by Barbabra Bell, on the dust jacket of his 1985 book, “Breakaway: On the Road with the Tour de France,” which I highly recommend.

By Daniel McMahon

With the so-called cobbled classics upon us this week, I asked Samuel Abt—the veteran cycling journalist who covered a million Tours de France and any other race worth knowing about—for his take on the pavé. He wrote:

The cobblestone races, I think, add excitement and some novelty to the sport, but their importance should not be overestimated. Bernard Hinault was right, I also think, when he derided Paris-Roubaix as a kind of circus, proving not much about the real champions. In other words, the pave is a niche element. It’s not like tennis, for example, where a dominant player can win on all, or most, surfaces; a true master of the cobblestones is rarely a factor in the grand Tours or even the classics not run on pave. But, as I said, they are fun to watch.

When I worked at BICYCLING, I asked European correspondent James Startt to catch up with Sam. The interview is worth your time.

For more opinions on the cobbled classics, including those of Joe Parkin and Frankie Andreu, see my recent VeloNews story, “Pave the Pavé? Mon Dieu!

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Best of New York City cycling 2010: part 1

New York City cyclists of the year 2010

SEEMS LIKE AGES since some of us bundled up and headed out to Jersey in early March to do the Branchbrook crit in decidedly freezing conditions. Yet just as fast as Schleck the younger dropped his chain and lost the Tour, the past year of bike racing in the Big Apple has whizzed by, and 2011 is knocking on the door. It’s been an exciting year, too, with tons of racing mostly every week from March to October, or even into December if you’re bold enough to brave cyclocross.

Perhaps you were the hardcore Floyd Bennett Field banger out for Tuesday night suffering. Or a strict CRCA-Central Park type putting all of your chips on the Harlem Hill hustle. Who didn’t do at least a few Prospect Park races this year? The most eager were seen doing cycling’s version of F1 at Rockleigh on Thursdays. Then there were those born to race track at the Kissena velodrome, or even at T-town. The heartiest took to the madness that is cyclocross up and down the East Coast.

Of course, much of the action took place farther afield, at races such as Bear Mountain, the Green Mountain Stage Race, and Battenkill. What’s for certain, though, is that as New York City cyclists, we are spoiled with options when it comes to racing nearly every day of the week for most of the season.

Whatever your flavor, you likely have seen some of our top rider picks of 2010 out on the road this past season, riding next to you in the pack or even ahead of you—as they put you into the gutter. You may even be one of our winners. If so, we congratulate you for your achievement, big or small, and for your hard work.

Here, then, in the first of four parts to be published over the coming days, CyclingReporter.com’s 2010 New York City cyclists of the year.

—The Editors

NYC Race Visionary: David Trimble

David Trimble

David Trimble of Jonathan Adler Racing. Photo: groovylab

Adler’s unassuming but tough-as-nails roadie and cyclocrosser David Trimble spends a good deal of his time off the bike coming up with new ways to have fixed-gear cyclists compete in unsanctioned races for pretty darn nice prizes.

This March he saw his baby, the Red Hook Criterium, already in its third year, grow into a huge event with great success, drawing the attention of the major cycling press. The first two winners of the race went on to turn professional—namely, Kacey Manderfield and Neil Bezdek. Sure enough, this year’s winner, Dan Chabanov, has risen to the elite level of cylcocross and is racing with the best riders in the country.

Trimble himself had another strong year as a road and CX racer, notably taking several top-10s in the Mid-Atlantic Cyclocross series.

As if that were not enough, this fall the insatiable promoter took his race to Italy, for the first Red Hook Criterium Milano. Unsurprisingly, it was another huge success. Considering the planning and wheeling and dealing that go into putting on such an event, it makes one wonder what’s next for the relentless young promoter. We expect another year of awesome races from Trimble in 2011. Anything less would be surprising.

Related articles:

At Red Hook Criterium, track bikes and brawn required
In Brooklyn, unifying machines and a win for a Russian bike messenger
Q&A: Trimble on Red Hook Criterium Milano
Looking abroad, Red Hook crit heads to Italy

*****

NYC Junior Rider of the Year: Wei Chen

Wei Chen New York City cyclist of the year 2010

The 18-year-old CRCA/Junior Development rider had an impressive first year racing his bike in 2010 and was always improving. He earned solid results, including a number of top 10s and a win at the challenging climber’s favorite Tour of High Bridge.

Chen wasted no time expanding his horizons by accepting an offer to race in Belgium mid-year, and while in the World Capital of Cycling he was able to mix it up with the Europeans—he even won a prime.

Expect him to be stepping it up in 2011 with the higher categories, and drawing on some of that Belgian experience.

Related article:

In Belgium, a CRCA junior tests his legs

*****

NYC Comeback of the Year:
Jared Bunde

Jared Bunde moved from upstate New York to the city several years ago and has been an active cyclist in the area ever since. In 2007 Bunde tested positive for the performance-enhancing drug clomiphene and received a two-year suspension. With the ban from racing behind him, Bunde was back in 2010 doing what he says he loves to do most—race his bike. While he ventured out of town to do races such as the Tour of Somerville, he seemed content to get back his racing legs at Floyd and in the park races.

Jared-Bunde-CyclingReporter

The Mengoni rider didn’t have a ton of stellar results in his comeback year—he did win Tour de Parc—but he had enough podiums and top-5s at Floyd Bennett Field to take the green jersey for best sprinter of the Kissena Tuesday Night Training Series.

Overall, he made a quiet comeback, staying largely under the radar. Yet we expect to see Bunde go for bigger results in 2011—or at least another green jersey.

Q&A WITH JARED BUNDE

In the fall of 2007, Jared Bunde was handed a two-year suspension by the US Anti-Doping Agency after testing positive for the banned substance clomiphene. His suspension ended in October 2009, and he returned to racing this year. CyclingReporter.com caught up with Bunde this past spring to discuss his suspension and return to cycling. Below are excerpts from that interview.

CyclingReporter.com: Did you think your two-year suspension was just?

Jared Bunde: In accepting the suspension, one of the hardest things to come to grips with was that there is not really any appeal in the United States. Even in situations where an athlete can display “reasonable doubt,” it is the norm for a two-year suspension to be given. Riders caught doping at the highest level in the sport are given a get-out-of-jail-free card. In some twisted way, this is validation for involvement in an organized doping program. In my situation, if I had provided USADA with information that was helpful to them, my sanction could have been reduced by half. Athletes who come clean about the fact that the have committed an offense at the highest level of sport return to racing before an athlete who is negligent. By no means do I wish to complain about the suspension that I have served. The bottom line is, I broke the rules and suffered the consequences. I am sorry to be a part of the image that continues to tarnish this sport and sorry to any other athletes who feel slighted by me.

Jared-Bunde-CyclingReporter

CR: What’d you think of people’s reactions?
JB: The day that a positive result from a drug test is announced, there is a public judgment of the offender. There will be those who adamantly speak out against the person; there will be a few who offer public support, like so-and-so is a good person. There is very little that a person who is in my position can do to alter that public perception once the judgment has been cast. It is not my intent to dwell on the issue. I wish to move forward, in cycling and in life.

CR: What was the suspension like for you personally?
JB: The suspension was one of the toughest personal situations that I have dealt with in my life so far. I experienced a gamut of emotions as the events unfolded.

CR: What have you been doing since?
JB: Before the suspension, I had been devoting a majority of my time and energy to my racing pursuits. My aim has been to use the suspension as a catalyst for personal growth in my life away from the sport. I’m in my second year of a four-year nursing program at CUNY Hunter College. I work in a bike shop, NYC Velo, part-time, and also with the youth in the Star Track program at the Kissena velodrome.

CR: What’s your cycling background?
JB: My life as a bike racer sprang from my life as a courier. My first races were messenger “alley cat” races. I took my first trip to Europe in 1999 to participate in the Cycle Messenger World Champs. The trip was organized by Kevin “Squid” Bolger, and it was a lot of fun. About the same time, I worked for a messenger company on 14th Street, where I met Rob Brown, who rides with Major Taylor. Rob motivated me to start racing a road bike. It was a rag-tag start, but I began to take things seriously in 2001. I have always appreciated the diversity of the cycling scene in New York City. My first club was Kissena, partially because of the value I placed on the formation of Kissena as a club, which allowed under-represented athletes to participate in national events. I spent two years with Kissena, then two years with the YSG/Ideal Tile team. In 2006 I raced for Champion System, which allowed me the opportunity to participate in some international races. I raced for Mengoni in 2007.

Part of my passion for the sport has been fueled by my desire to travel. I have been lucky enough to race in about 10 foreign countries, with return trips to several of them. Racing in Belgium and France in 2003 and 2004 gave me a very solid foundation on the road and taught me a lot tactically. The 2005 season was very tough for me; it started with a broken wrist at the Vuelta Inependencia in the Dominican Republic. After recovering from the wrist fracture, I donated part of a finger to an accident at Kissena. With the sporadic year in 2005, I had a desire to hit 2006 well prepared. Before the season, I spent February in El Salvador. The foundation gained in winter training served me well, and I basically raced from spring 2006 until the fall of 2007. Each of those years I had over 90 race days, which covered nearly every month of the calendar. Highlights included an eight-day stage race in Venezuela and weeklong races in China, Malaysia, and Thailand.

CR: Have you been training all this time?
JB: My schedule with school and work has limited the amount that I have been able to train. The last year that I raced, 2007, I was primarily unemployed, which makes for a good bike racer. So, in light of the amount that I have ridden in the past, I am not riding much. I did one road race this past October, which had less than fantastic results. Even with the poor result, the outcome did leave me with a huge smile on my face. Racing a bicycle is something that I truly enjoy, something that helps me to feel energized and alive. I’m excited to be able to race again this year.

—spring 2010

Read part 2 of our 2010 Best of New York City cycling awards here.

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