Procycling - - PROLOGUE -

The rain­bow jersey is truly an icon of cy­cling. Few other sports ac­knowl­edge so vis­i­bly their ‘best in the world’. Cy­cling is also dif­fer­ent in that its arena is more var­ied. Other sports have the same com­peti­tors, week-in, week-out, and the best of the best at the world cham­pi­onships, yet for cy­cling it is im­pos­si­ble to de­sign a course that at­tracts ev­ery­one.

So I ap­plaud the UCI for hav­ing a so-called ‘sprint­ers’ Worlds and then this year a ‘clim­bers’ course. For years, the at­tempts to at­tract all types of rider meant the in-be­tween cir­cuits suited the same rid­ers. It’s a strange race to ride, very dif­fer­ent to any other. It’s lot less con­trolled. Usu­ally, at most races, there are 20 teams and maybe 15 team lead­ers. At the Worlds you have 60-odd teams, and a lot of rid­ers who are re­strained by team or­ders all year have their op­por­tu­nity.

This brings me to the start list. It’s im­pos­si­ble, but as the sport en­ters new mar­kets, it needs to be a true world cham­pi­onships. In ath­let­ics, there is a qual­i­fy­ing stan­dard. If you aren’t good enough you can’t take to the start line. Yet in road rac­ing it is not the world rank­ings that de­cide the num­ber of starters for each coun­try but the con­ti­nen­tal rank­ings. Take Ire­land for an ex­am­ple. In 2016, I made a big con­tri­bu­tion to the num­ber of spots the team had, but then chose not to at­tend the ‘sprint­ers’ champs in Qatar. To ap­peal to a wider au­di­ence, surely it would make more sense to in­vite the top 200 rid­ers in the world to the event and then have a re­serve list be­hind that, although again clearly this is a flawed idea as the stronger na­tions would have huge teams and kill off the race.

It re­ally feels like I am go­ing around in cir­cles, but doesn’t that sum up cy­cling? On pa­per it is the sim­plest of sports - first across the line wins. But delve deeper and it’s a com­pli­cated web with so many is­sues mak­ing it im­pos­si­ble to keep every­body happy.

Dan skipped the Worlds in Qatar in 2016 as it was too suited to sprint­ers

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