Posted by Editor on 08/12/05
Canada Gets One Rider for Worlds?
It appears that Canada will get single spot on the starting line for the men's road race at the Road Worlds next month in Madrid. For the nations without enough riders on the ProTour to qualify a full roster of 9 riders, the determination of starting spots is made by continental rankings. Canada is ranked ninth in the Americas standings (as of yesterday's update), with no chance to make up enough points before the August 15th cut-off to move into a higher spot (at which point they would get 3 spots). The Americas continental standings are below.
This is the outcome which, sadly, we predicted when the new ProTour system was announced. Canada has been slow at responding to the changed reality of men's professional racing. The situation is likely to get worse as we move towards the next Olympics, with Canada having the real possibility of no starters for the men's road race. Canada needs to work in two ways to rectify this situation:
1. More Continental Calendar races in Canada. This will allow Canadian-based teams to participate in races where they can receive points. To do this, organizers need support and encouragement, in the form of technical assistance, training, reduced (or eliminated) sanction fees, sponsor assistance and prize money. A primary function of the CCA portion of the Hamilton Worlds legacy should be targeted to this area.
Further, the nascent Canada Cup series needs strong support. Organizers must take out Continental Calendar sanctions (with the aforementioned assistance). Canadian teams and riders must be "encouraged" to participate. Right now, most top Canadian riders (outside of the two on a ProTour squad) ride in the U.S., for teams who have little interest in Canadian races or Continental standings (the U.S. has enough ProTour riders to make their participation in the Worlds an unlikely event, anyway).
Canada needs to make the Canada Cup series mandatory for Worlds selection (and Commonwealth Games and Olympics in the future). We are not suggesting that participation in the entire series be required, but that certain designated events be part of the selection criteria. Some riders are sure to scream about this, but they need to make a decision - do they want to have the opportunity to represent Canada at international events or not? For too long, Canada has bent to fit the riders, rather than the other way around. If a rider decides to have a career racing solely in the U.S., that's fine, but by doing so he is making a choice.
Having said that, it is not fair to expect riders to exist in extreme poverty for the opportunity to race on behalf of Canada. We recognize that the majority of high quality racing, and properly funded racing teams, currently exists in the U.S. Therefore, teams need to be encouraged to send squads (with Canadian members) up to Canada, with proper prize lists, well run races and, potentially, financial assistance to attend the races. This was done in the past for the Canadian Tire series, and could be done again.
2. Participation of Canadians in other Americas races. Canada should be sending teams to South and Central America to rack up Continental points, particularly in the early season. It may be national squads, or it could be financial assistance to Canadian registered teams. We are sure that the Canadian squads would be interested in participating in such a program, and there are likely South American teams or associations that would be interested in a swap program that would see some of their riders come to Canada later in the season. We should be supporting teams that support Canada.
The key point is that we need to move now on these efforts, to have an initial program in place for next season. Post your comments on the Forums.
Standings as of August 11, 2005
1 Argentina 1179 points
2 Brazil 855
3 United States of America 847.6 (receives 9 spots due to proTour ranking)
4 Colombia 748
5 Cuba 585
6 Venezuela 519
7 Chile 486
8 Mexico 382
9 Canada 350
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