I saw a few articles about Bobby Lea’s 3rd place finish at the Track World Cup in London this past weekend. This was following his winning a World Cup a few weeks ago. He is leading the omnium World Cup overall competition now. This is pretty unprecedented for US track cycling. Pretty great.
It got me thinking about track cycling and how it has pretty much disappeared off the radar screens of cycling fans. Road, cyclocross, even MTB racing has a greater media and fan base than track cycling does currently. I’m wondering how that happened.
I know that, here in the US, the USAC doesn’t put any emphasis in track cycling. I know that they would disagree with that statement, but I know of no organized track program, which doesn’t mean that there isn’t one, but it has to be pitiful ,at best. I would bet that Bobby Lea’s success this track season is because of his individual efforts and training and nothing to do with a USAC track program.
I have a friend, Jim Thiele, that has been going over to England the past few years to compete in the Master’s World Track Championships in Manchester. He told me that when the British track team takes over the track for training, it is amazing.
The riders are riding their full race equipment, with telemetry on each rider’s bikes and the track, with guys with laptops looking at real-time data as they train. He said there were probably 5 support for each rider. And this was just for training. He compared that to our sprint program where there is a half empty apartment in LA for the riders and having to pretty much fend for your own.
He said that there is no way that the US riders have a chance to compete with the British, taking the two programs into consideration. I would have to agree.
But the organized track program doesn’t make the sport seem a fringe sport, even compared to other aspects of cycling, which is a fringe sport on its own. It has just fallen off with popularity, which is too bad.
Track cycling is super fun to watch, in person. Maybe it is because there are so few tracks where spectators can go and see it live? I dont‘ know.
Bobby comes from Lehigh Valley where the Trexlertown Velodrome is located. They have a super healthy track program going on and Bobby can train and race at a level that is much superior to the rest of the United States. But, it still isn’t Britain or Australia. These two countries track programs are off the charts superior to ours. And the results show it.
Anyway, if you have a chance to catch so track racing, in person, I think you’ll be surprised how exciting it is. Bobby Lea is currently doing something unprecedented in US track racing, for men. It will be interesting following the rest of the World Cup season, which is one more race in Columbia, in January. Wishing Bobby good luck!