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Why is the US underrepresented in this year's TdF?

I don't think that the USA is short on cycling talent, rather, the USA is short on cyclist willing to risk it all in a foreign world. To answer the title of the thread, there aren't that many USA riders on teams who are at la TdF.

I don't think that population is a good indicator of participation numbers. How many Chinese NFL players are there?
 
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jmdirt said:
I don't think that the USA is short on cycling talent, rather, the USA is short on cyclist willing to risk it all in a foreign world. To answer the title of the thread, there aren't that many USA riders on teams who are at la TdF.

I don't think that population is a good indicator of participation numbers. How many Chinese NFL players are there?

All true. The euro-centric nature of the WT will limit the number of Americans. Also, it's a lot harder to be an aspiring pro and develop your talent in the US. Races are fewer and farther apart, whereas in Europe you might only have to drive an hour or 3 to race every weekend against top competitors. Still, there's talent in the US but the support system is not there. Plus, though our non US forum members might not believe it, the fallout from the LA/USPS debacle was a real setback, and major corporate sponsor are skittish about getting involved.
(True, there are a lot of Colombians on the WT, but they have much fewer economic opportunities at home)
 
Re:

jmdirt said:
I don't think that the USA is short on cycling talent, rather, the USA is short on cyclist willing to risk it all in a foreign world. To answer the title of the thread, there aren't that many USA riders on teams who are at la TdF.

I don't think that population is a good indicator of participation numbers. How many Chinese NFL players are there?

Well there does seem to be a bit of a lull in the talent ranks. Phinney as the best TT rider, Talansky as the best GT rider, no sprinter at the elite level. How many Pro Tour races have been won by US riders this year ? Compared to the previous 10 year period and before there has been a drop off. A country of that size compared to say Australia and New Zealand is pretty unflattering. Even with participation rates, Australia is hardly thriving at the club level but still produces quality riders but then only one Tour winner. Lemond won three and the other two are no longer recognized as winners. And Andy Hampsten won the Giro of course. I remember Horner had trouble adapting to Europe as well but then soared late in his career like a phoenix from the ashes !
 
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Australian riders are high on quantity at TDF but not much quality. Having a national team and a soft home leg of the world tour helps swell their numbers.
Man for man you would find a lot more talent in the USA.
 
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Lupi33x said:
Australian riders are high on quantity at TDF but not much quality. Having a national team and a soft home leg of the world tour helps swell their numbers.
Man for man you would find a lot more talent in the USA.

You could of called Orica a national team at the start but not now, 10 of the 26 riders are Australian. You could argue that Cannondale (Slipstream) are a national team yet only have 6 riders that are American. 27 Australians have WT contracts compared to 17 from the United States, PCT level its basically the same with 11 Aus and 12 US (8 on UHC). Australia has 17 victories at WT and take out the TDU they have 10, United States has 5 WT victories with 3 of those at there own soft WT race in the Tour of California. The United States is down on talent at this stage but it's cyclical and will change in the future.
 
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Leinster said:
These things go in cycles. The US is just at a low ebb in terms of top pro cyclists right now. Brazil, China and India don't have anyone at the Tour, so it's not just population.

"Right now?" More like the last century.

This country will never produce a whole lot in terms of racers at the highest level because it simply isn't on the radar of gifted athletes, but for a few. Perhaps if someone here could produce a compelling set of races, that might change, but I don't think that will ever happen. They mostly just use the NASCAR model here: criteriums and circuit races.

It's not like there are top riders here who just aren't getting shots over in Europe. If anything, decent American riders are given extra shots/advantages over there.
 
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movingtarget said:
jmdirt said:
I don't think that the USA is short on cycling talent, rather, the USA is short on cyclist willing to risk it all in a foreign world. To answer the title of the thread, there aren't that many USA riders on teams who are at la TdF.

I don't think that population is a good indicator of participation numbers. How many Chinese NFL players are there?

Well there does seem to be a bit of a lull in the talent ranks. Phinney as the best TT rider, Talansky as the best GT rider, no sprinter at the elite level. How many Pro Tour races have been won by US riders this year ? Compared to the previous 10 year period and before there has been a drop off. A country of that size compared to say Australia and New Zealand is pretty unflattering. Even with participation rates, Australia is hardly thriving at the club level but still produces quality riders but then only one Tour winner. Lemond won three and the other two are no longer recognized as winners. And Andy Hampsten won the Giro of course. I remember Horner had trouble adapting to Europe as well but then soared late in his career like a phoenix from the ashes !

That's surprising to hear. I always thought that cycling was thriving in Australia. I thought it would've received a boost in popularity and participation after Evans' Tour win.

In my area it seems the sport is really popular with people past their prime athletically. Cycling clubs seem to consist of people 35+ in age, that are coming from running and other sports that tend to be more damaging to the joints.

Competitively I just think that many of the generation of athletes that could have been cyclists have gravitated to other sports. Not to put all the blame on Armstrong, but his high profile rise and fall put a negative cloud on the sport of professional cycling in the eyes of the general population. Plus cycling is freakin' hard and involves a great deal of suffering compared to some other sports.
 
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StryderHells said:
Lupi33x said:
Australian riders are high on quantity at TDF but not much quality. Having a national team and a soft home leg of the world tour helps swell their numbers.
Man for man you would find a lot more talent in the USA.

You could of called Orica a national team at the start but not now, 10 of the 26 riders are Australian. You could argue that Cannondale (Slipstream) are a national team yet only have 6 riders that are American. 27 Australians have WT contracts compared to 17 from the United States, PCT level its basically the same with 11 Aus and 12 US (8 on UHC). Australia has 17 victories at WT and take out the TDU they have 10, United States has 5 WT victories with 3 of those at there own soft WT race in the Tour of California. The United States is down on talent at this stage but it's cyclical and will change in the future.

Orica was never a "national team" even at the beginning. Yes, it is AUS licenced as is the major backer and the largest quota of their riders are AUS ...... but they've never had any monopoly on signing AUS up and coming talent. It's certainly proven no sinecure for any AUS riders as they certainly made a major clean-out of those who weren't measuring up after the initial contracts expired and they've been just as keen on picking up top young intl talent (think Chaves, Yates twins, Cort) as with locals.

TDU may give a minor early season boost to a couple of AUS riders but lets look at it; those who have historically banked those early WT points have also gone on to win some major races "when it counts" (Gerrans 2 monuments other major one dayers, Porte major one weekers, Dennis TTs) .... Ewan is probably the only one where you can really say his tally is mostly "soft wins".

I think the difference is partly that of mentality. There is no continental circuit to really speak of and the National Series is fairly low budget so the reality for ambitious young AUS riders is that you're going to need to leave home if you want to make it professionally. In many cases, for Americans there is still somewhat of an aversion to leaving their own little comfy cocoons ... which was sustained for many years by US race organisers feather-bedding the US Conti teams when it came to entry to their major races. The riding talent is certainly far more extensive than what we are currently seeing at WT level (even if there may not be any GT contenders/likely monument winners), its just a matter of whether these American riders are willing to make the sacrifice/take the risk that other nationalities have had to make.
 
Re: Re:

Angliru said:
movingtarget said:
jmdirt said:
I don't think that the USA is short on cycling talent, rather, the USA is short on cyclist willing to risk it all in a foreign world. To answer the title of the thread, there aren't that many USA riders on teams who are at la TdF.

I don't think that population is a good indicator of participation numbers. How many Chinese NFL players are there?

Well there does seem to be a bit of a lull in the talent ranks. Phinney as the best TT rider, Talansky as the best GT rider, no sprinter at the elite level. How many Pro Tour races have been won by US riders this year ? Compared to the previous 10 year period and before there has been a drop off. A country of that size compared to say Australia and New Zealand is pretty unflattering. Even with participation rates, Australia is hardly thriving at the club level but still produces quality riders but then only one Tour winner. Lemond won three and the other two are no longer recognized as winners. And Andy Hampsten won the Giro of course. I remember Horner had trouble adapting to Europe as well but then soared late in his career like a phoenix from the ashes !

That's surprising to hear. I always thought that cycling was thriving in Australia. I thought it would've received a boost in popularity and participation after Evans' Tour win.

In my area it seems the sport is really popular with people past their prime athletically. Cycling clubs seem to consist of people 35+ in age, that are coming from running and other sports that tend to be more damaging to the joints.

Competitively I just think that many of the generation of athletes that could have been cyclists have gravitated to other sports. Not to put all the blame on Armstrong, but his high profile rise and fall put a negative cloud on the sport of professional cycling in the eyes of the general population. Plus cycling is freakin' hard and involves a great deal of suffering compared to some other sports.

Evans win increased bike sales and recreational cyclists but at the local road club level I don't think it had a great impact not from what I have read anyway. The national road series seems quite healthy, track is nothing compared to what it used to be but that seems to be a worldwide trend except maybe in countries like Japan and some of the European countries. But for young riders entering the sport I'm doubtful. Cycling in Australia was more or less a healthy fringe sport at the participation level. But the odd thing now is that sports like tennis and golf and even cricket have a had a big drop in participation rates. Looking at the state of Australian tennis that's not a complete surprise while golf is an expensive game to play, add to that three different codes of football all in a healthy state and cycling is small fry compared to those. Of course cycling is hard and it can become expensive as well with equipment and travel especially in a large country like Australia but the roads in Australia especially in the big cities where most people live are a bit of a nightmare especially if you have to train after work. Getting out of the city to find quieter roads is never much fun.
 
Here are some thoughts

The US women are superior to the men right now. Coryn Rivera is currently the best US cyclist followed by Megan Guarnier.

- The talent pool is not deep enough as cycling is a fringe sport.
- The media exposure is very low, ESPN and Fox don't have an interest.
- Primarily a white middle/upper-class sport. Thus lower drive at the margin as this is not the way to "make" it.
- The US is too spread out and a lot of the terrain is unappealing.
- A decent number of drivers hate cyclists and distracted drivers (cell phones), along with no need for license renewals (old folks), make cycling more dangerous
- Residential sprawl is not conducive for cycling in many areas
- No corporate support for cycling yet
- The money is cycling is peanuts compared to other sports
- The lack of fairness in that football, baseball (and some basketball, hockey, soccer) etc have massive PED use whereas in cycling you have to starve yourself and live a tougher lifestyle to succeed
- Cities, counties - require high expenses to cover costs to host races


However
- US Cycling is getting it's act back together after less than perfect years
- Strava a US company has caused - middle-aged men to try hard
- Cycling is getting some of the Golf crowd
- Fat bicycles have made cycling a year-round sport
 
You could argue the US has been overrepresented compared to historical precedent for the last couple of generations; the Lemond/Hampsten generation begot a lot of people interested in the sport that otherwise would not have been, and certainly the Lance days will have inspired a lot of people to take up the sport, leading to a period where not just the people who made it alongside him but generations who went pro after taking the sport more seriously following on from those successes led to an increase in the US presence in the péloton. This also begot more US teams at the pro level, with the advent of the WT guaranteeing a spot in the biggest European races for teams, as well as lots of other teams seeing the US as a source of developing riders more than they had done in the past. In recent years, the folding of HTC and the morphing of Radioshack back towards a European team in Trek as it disassociates itself from its origins as an Armstrong vanity project as well as progressive mergers of Garmin with European teams has perhaps lessened the US strength at the WT level, as well as the old problem that, like a lot of countries, the US is a nation where the general knowledge of the cycling calendar is fairly limited, so the Tour has the hugely exaggerated importance, exacerbated massively in the Lance years of course by his selective calendar. And there's no US candidate to win a GT right now; Tejay and Talansky are perhaps the closest but they need a LOT of luck to get a GT they can win at time of writing. The other problem is with fewer US teams at the top level and with other scenes usurping them as a source of young riders to other teams, as well as some non-US sponsors with significant US interest (such as HTC or Rabobank) leaving the sport, there's less cause for so many teams to take the jetlag of travelling over to America for flyaway races in the middle of preparation periods.

And to add to this, the US domestic scene is very different in character from a lot of European races - the style of roads is different, the tendency towards crits and TTs is of a wildly different flavour to the similar races in Europe (compare a classic American four-corner pure speed crit against a Dutch 800-pieces-of-road-furniture crit or a classic Belgian kermesse on narrow concreted roads) and roads on climbs were often made with much more modern equipment which favour a completely different kind of climber. As a result, unless a team has significant US interest and wants to do that full calendar, there may be some scepticism from teams as to whether somebody who goes well in the US domestic scene will adapt to Europe, so may well favour a European rider of comparable level in a direct choice between the two. If you look at the women's péloton, the American women tend to have their success at a later age than many others, as travelling across the Atlantic to base themselves out of Europe is a risk they're often only willing to take once they've finished their studies or have established themselves satisfactorily to get a reasonable salary out of the relocation. Megan Guarnier is two years older than Marta Bastianelli, for example, but Bastianelli's seen as a veteran who's reinvented herself a number of times over a storied career, Megan has really come into her own over the last three seasons.
 
It's paradoxical in that recreational road cycling has boomed but US competitive presence in Europe has wanted. Not sure the two are related however, as noted above it's older men and women coming from other sports with high disposable income.

I also thought the comment about climbing roads in the US was interesting. As a US transplant to France, there may be something to that.
 

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