US Pro cycling: where is it at?

Just to get away from all the doping issues. The Tour of Georgia should be on about now but was cancelled this year. A lot of fuss has been made about the huge surge of interest in cycling in the US since the Lance phenonemon began but personally I dont see this reflected at the top level in the US.

I started following cycling 20 years ago & even then there was some great US races like , Tour du Pont, Thrift Drug Classic, Atlanta GP, West Virginia Mountain Classic & of course USPRO week in June, all of which Lance won. In 2009, there is Tour of California, Tour of Missouri, Philly & USPROs and thats about it for big time races in the US.

Likewise, team wise, there was Motorola, Subaru-Montgomery, Coors Light, Chevrolet/La Sheriff, Spago & a few smaller teams in the early 90s. There are a lot more teams now but the line between pro & am became blurred a long time ago. I would say Garmin, BMC, OUCH, Health Net & Bissell are the only proper pro teams nowadays. Sorry, Columbia are American sponsored but not really an American team, only US riders are Hicapie, Lewis.

I have been to Philly & San Francisco, both great events with huge crowds and attending then gave the impression that cycling is big news in the US.

Wouldnt it be great to see a US calendar with events like, California, Georgia, Du Pont, Missour, WV Classic, Coors Classic, Utah as the top stage races and one day events like Atlanta, Thrift Drug, San Francisco, Saturn Classic, US Pros, Philly. It would make for a great calendar that would attract even decent Euro teams.

I guess the real question is, will US Pro Cycling ever grow beyond its current level and is enough being done to harness the Lance affect.
 
pmcg76 said:
. There are a lot more teams now but the line between pro & am became blurred a long time ago. I would say Garmin, BMC, OUCH, Health Net & Bissell are the only proper pro teams nowadays. Sorry, Columbia are American sponsored but not really an American team, only US riders are Hicapie, Lewis.

OMG, I forgot Rock Racing, how on earth did I forget them!! Its not like they are low key or anything.
 
Mar 18, 2009
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U.S. domestic pro cycling does not really appear to be any better off than it was twenty years ago. There are more ways to get to europe, but it does not seem that the country can sustain a longish stage race for more than a few years. That the Giro and Vuelta cannot be profitably broadcast says a lot about the sports viability. On that last point, maybe bull riding is just more profitable than cycling. That is distrubing in itself.


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Mar 18, 2009
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pmcg76 said:
OMG, I forgot Rock Racing, how on earth did I forget them!! Its not like they are low key or anything.
Rock fired three or four riders in the last few days. They are downsizing. Who knows if they will last the year. It sounds like the team needs a co-sponsor to remain viable.
 
Mar 18, 2009
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US racing scene

Yes, I agree with the posts. The US pro racing scene has been better. The interest of sponsorship of quality racing has taken a dip. It seems the consistancy is not something that builds on itself but comes in 4 or 5 year cycles. I believe the dollars it takes to take a good race with lots of potential to the next level is a huge step. Look at the Tour of Utah and Tour of Georgia for example. Utah and Georgia have healthy and growing bicycle racing communities -so the interest and support is there in those states and in the US but the advertising dollars to support such efforts is very difficult to secure. I will say that I have seen a huge upsurge in the amatuer racing since Lance hit the scene. There are many many great long term amatuer races that are still thriving.
 
Mar 10, 2009
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1) Ditch the cars for everything but traveling, some longer commutes and grocery shopping. It all starts with kids being exposed to cycling early on, not even as a sport, but riding a bike in general. In the few months I have been here, I have been in traffic jams caused by all these singular parents in huge SUVs to pick up their one kid from school. Make kids ride their bikes to school, even if it is 10-15 miles away. It'll make them fitter, stronger and potentially competitive.

I mean, if your parents always drive a car, why would a kid ever think about spending money on a fine bike?

'A romantic cycling story to prove a point': Bauke Mollema had to ride about 11 miles to and 11 from school everyday with a heavy bag stuffed with books. One day, he just decided to time himself on that distance. He then gradually grew into cycling, pushing himself harder and harder to try and go faster.

2) Improve cycling awareness in general and promote it by investing heavily in better facilities for cyclists
+bann cars from certain roads
+add additional cycling lanes, seperated from the road,
+have companies/gvmt subsidize bikes if employees come by bike
+have organized tours even if it's just for elderly people or touring cyclists so that they can cruise the countryside (of which you have alot) instead of seeing the scenery in a car.

3) Ditch the crits and organize more road races that don't make your head spin. Again, this means more counties etc are involved in shutting down roads, but at least competing cyclists have the idea they are doing something similar to what happens in Europe. A 2 mile crit isn't really racing... ;)

Perhaps this could boost the level of enrollment amongst the general population.
 
Apr 12, 2009
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What about a tour of America, similar to the grand tours where you go through California, the Rockies, some sprint stages in the midwest, intermediate stages in the southern states and a final sprint in Washington DC I think that would be exciting
 
Some American guy had been mooting such an idea a few years ago, cant remember his name. Just remember it was a mad idea, even longer than the Tour, with longer stages starting on East coast all the way across the States.

I think it was first publicised at the Las Vegas bike show a few years ago but the journos just laughed at the idea. The guy then downsized his plans but it still never happened. Think it was meant to be last year 2008.
 
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pmcg76 said:
Some American guy had been mooting such an idea a few years ago, cant remember his name. Just remember it was a mad idea, even longer than the Tour, with longer stages starting on East coast all the way across the States.

I think it was first publicised at the Las Vegas bike show a few years ago but the journos just laughed at the idea. The guy then downsized his plans but it still never happened. Think it was meant to be last year 2008.
im saying a two week event across some parts of the united states it would bring alot of exposure to cycling in the us and also lucrative sponsors.
 
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Anonymous

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In all of the US Sporting "scene" we cyclists are but a blip on the map. And although cycling is becoming a bit more mainstreamed here in the States, like Rodney Dangerfield used to say, "[We still] get no respect!" Nor do we get the coverage that other mainstream sports do like baseball, football, basketball, golf and even hockey. Except for the Tour de France and the recent return of Lance and his participation in the ToC, I think horse racing gets more play on the evening news.

Other than on VS. when do you hear about or see any coverage of Paris-Roubaix, Amstel Gold, Giro, Vuelta, US Championship, etc? I think even the Xgames gets more coverage or publicity in the US.

Ask the average sports guy about cycling and all you'll hear is Lance and doping and get sneers because we hog up 2ft of width in the road.

Until cycling can show it can bring in the big dollars US cycling will always be an afterthought, especially in these economic times. I'm hoping the success of the ToC this year can carry some momentum. But when Lance leaves the sport again how much of that momentum will be lost. Plus, he and the rest of the big name pros ride in Europe. So the local paper/news station won't devote a lot of time and money, if any, to cover sports across the ocean.

I love cycling and watching the pros do what I can only dream about. But the average Joe could care less because you won't see Lance sportin' a Huimmer with 22"'s wearing bling around his neck and showing up at clubs with guns. Instead we're pansies in tights that take up too much room on the road. So until that perception changes cycling won't get a foothold like other established US sports unless Kobe, Jordan, Tiger, Ray Lewis, Jeter, and so on start donning the bib shorts!
 
Though initially absurd, there was a lot of positive chatter about the Tour of America. I think the best ideas were as follows:

• Hold the race in August. This would be just after the Tour excitement, and held counter to the Eneco Tour, which is boring as dirt. The organizers initially were saying September, but that competes with the Vuelta. August is better.

• Start by having the race 9 days (Saturday through the following Sunday). If it takes off, expand it to 16, with a rest day. A three-week Tour isn't necessary. Keeping it in global competition with a race no bigger than the ToC or Tour de Suisse is smarter and more manageable. Don't try to be a GT.

• Hold the race in a different section of the country each year. For example, one year it's in New England, the next year the Southwest, the next year the Rockies, the next the South, the next the Cascades, etc. This would keep the stage lengths manageable, and get the race across the entire country every few years. I'd start with the Rockies the first year, as an honor to the great Coors' Classic.

• Sponsorship, then permits and politics are keys. Start small if you have to with as many small sponsors that you can find. Start by having it with smaller, or continental teams. This can be done if you get the permits and get local governments and businesses excited, even if you don't have big sponsor money to lure pros from Europe. You can at least pull the race off. The Tour of Georgia considered downsizing this year to an smaller race, but were too tied to large sponsors and too much of the money quickly dried up.

• Talk to organizers of other races. Such as the TOC, TOG, TOM, Cascade Classic, etc. You want them on your side, not working against you. Start now, and in a year you may be able to form something together.

• Hire the best crackerjack PR team you can get, and one that loves the sport.

The fans are there, the money is tight now, but could be there. The permits can be had, and the racers would show up. Even if it were only teams like Ouch, RR etc. It would still generate a lot of interest, if only because of the name.

Here is the official website. I have no idea when it was last updated.
 
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a tour of america i like the idea of, obviously covering the whole of the states would be impossible.. but maybe have it in a different area each year, west coast one year, east the next etc... idd suggest starting in boston.. at least that way you may get mcquad interested.. ;)

my one comment on american racing, if it is to prove popular over here, is the tv coverage, they really need to talk to the guys in europe about coverage cos this years tour of california for me was ruined by the poor quality coverage.. for a country that can show a superbowl and zoom in on a player from 97 different angles they made such a right royal balls up of the tv coverage (the commentary on eurosport was excellent) but missing pictures, poor angles.. was pretty bad...

its interesting last year watching the tour of ireland, v the tour of britain.. as far as i know tour of ireland had same production team, and camera men that handle the tour de france, and other aso races.. it looked superb.. tour of britain took tv coverage back ten years.. which race has the higher profile... tour of ireland!

coverage quality can have a lot on the viewers perception of how good a race is (and obviously has quite an effect on sponsors, teams etc)
 
Mar 18, 2009
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Alpe d'Huez said:
The fans are there, the money is tight now, but could be there. The permits can be had, and the racers would show up. Even if it were only teams like Ouch, RR etc. It would still generate a lot of interest, if only because of the name.
I disagree. The fans are not there. If they were then they could support better TV coverage. Just looking at the few companies that Versus can line up for TV commercials says a lot. It does not make a lot of sense to me. U.S. cyclists are upcscale and have a lot of discretionary spending money. You would think that it would be a great demographic to advertise to. The numbers must be so small that it is not worth it.

The reason why stage races here die after a few years is that they always seem to be supported by one large sponsor. When that sponsor goes away, they cannot find a replacement. The large sponsors probably milk the fanbase for a few years and then realize that there is not much more to be gained by continuing.

If you want a longish stage race in the U.S. then you have to figure out how to make it profitable for the local communities. That would lay the foundation for long term success that might eventually lead to national TV coverage.

One idea I have kicked around for a while is to combine a pro stage race with a recreational tour, something like RAGBRAI being conducted over the same route as the pro race. People would ride the route or part of it and then watch the race. It would have to be something worthy of spending a week of vacation time to ride. I know that an MS150 that I occassionally get talked into doing has all the hotels/motels booked in advance. That is a serious incentive for the town to continue the event, and it makes up for the inconvenience of the roads being infested with cyclists.
 
Mar 10, 2009
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State of USA Cycling...

We all know the answer yet we still dream of something that will never be. Just reading the number of Pro's from each country is a slap in the face as the US has way more people than the Euro countries with double if not triple more pro riders.

As much as I am a fan I can also see that cycling as a sport is as big in the USA as American Football is in Europe. I don't necessarily like it but it is the fact.

This brings us back to the state of USA Cycling, it gets some influx of funds and rider license fee's every time there is an USA based rider who is winning in the Euro scene. Then the moment there are no results, the funds dwindle down to just operating state and most races stop being run from lack of racers and not to mention big time sponsors which show up in hopes of being associated with the current big USA based rider, but otherwise they bail. There are some local races which are still being run for decades but they are small compared to a Continental Quality field (we won't even hit the ProTour quality races as there are none). No ProTour races? Tour of Cali/Missouri? What about them? Well you all know they are not true ProTour races, the prime time racers are not there and definitely not in prime time shape if they do go. Then they're held when the Euro scene is dry so they can entice the Euro teams to come but seriously which rider wants to deal with the trip mid season?

USA is not Europe where cycling is big and definitely bigger than the USA, its a tough pill to swallow but true none the less. Which rider grows up in Europe and dreams of winning in the USA? But the number of riders growing up in the USA that dream of winning in Europe? A ton more. The Pro Race Scene is in Europe and that is that, crying/whining/dreaming over it is not going to accomplish much.

It could happen! And so could the Super Bowl be played in Europe! But its not.
 
Apr 21, 2009
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First step:support "OUR" sports sponsors

As a racer, race promoter, cycling travelor, trail builder, cycilng education/safety advocate etc. I can honestly say I have seen a lot of facets of the US (and international) cycling world.
One thing always jumps out at me when the discussion comes up about why our sport suffers from nearly constant economic struggles and often outright turmoil. Sponsors, of events, teams, individuals, trail organizations etc. almost always give up the cash in the hopes it will help boost their bottom line.
Unforntunately I have observed all too often a lack of support of those sponsors from racers, riders and fans. Simply put sometimes we do need to pay a little more to support our sport, but often times some amazing companies with top-flight products jump into our sport. So support them. Look for car companies with a history with the sport, buy an AMD processor based computer, actually eat at your next races sponsoring restaurant instead of packing up as quick as possible and jetting home.
 
Mar 10, 2009
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As a former shop owner, race team sponsor, volunteer for the Atlanta Olympic Road Cycling events and racer I see our problem as a glass half full.

The spotlight is there. Not always good, but it is there.

What we need is a youth program along the lines of Soccer. Remember that soccer didnt become big here (I know I know) until the 1980s when the first group of youth soccer league kids hit high school, and finally adulthood.

A real nationwide youth program would do more to grow cycling then any new sponsorship will. It is not going to happen overnight, but it would happen...
 
Apr 3, 2009
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What would happen if USA Cycling partnered with ESPN to produce a weekly cycling news program that would cover Europe and the States? If Texas Hold 'Em or Billiards can be show and be profitable why not cycling?

I was disappointed in Discovery Channels sponsorship because what little cycling programming they had was mostly on channels which were not readily available.

Cycling is similiar to NASCAR and that is quite popular in this country. Could the heightened element of danger be the key to its success? Could the level of physical activity be the reason for why cycling isn't popular, i.e. viewers feeling bad about themselves for not exercising?
 
Mar 18, 2009
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FFWally said:
What we need is a youth program along the lines of Soccer. Remember that soccer didnt become big here (I know I know) until the 1980s when the first group of youth soccer league kids hit high school, and finally adulthood.

A real nationwide youth program would do more to grow cycling then any new sponsorship will. It is not going to happen overnight, but it would happen...
With modern America's aversion of anything viewed as remotely dangerous, I do not see youth cycling having any chance whatsoever of becoming big. The regimented and controlled lives that middle American forces on its children is not compatible with the training alone on open roads.
 
Apr 21, 2009
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Build it and they will come.

While a grand tour of the USA can go a long way towards giving the spectator sport of cycling legitimacy, the sport desperately needs to be built from the ground up. And the USCF has definitely been a hindrance here, with its focus on only the most talented riders.

Bicycling will never be really adopted as a sport until it is revered by the public as both a feasible means of transport as well as fun sport. This requires that it can be done in relative safety without worrying about being run over by cars, and so creation of bicycle paths and routes is essential in every American community. It is undeniable that our car culture is antithetical to cycling. But since we cannot expect that cars and car culture will go away, we can assert our rightful place, and our right to the right-of-way, in our communities. The lack of these amenities is part of the reason off-road cycling has taken off in the US...as cyclists we all need to be cycling advocates.
 

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