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Cycling on decline, say former greats

Mike King

Cycling on decline, say former greats

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Cycling?is on its death bed and badly in need of a shot in the arm.
That’s the view of former Barbados champions Roderick Chase and Colin “Top Cat”?Alleyne, who were far from impressed with the organization and quality of riding at the just concluded National Track Championships.
Alleyne, the 1982 national road race champion, made a hasty retreat from the nationals on Saturday afternoon.
“I am disappointed and concerned with what I have seen at these championships. It is hurtful to see a rider lapped twice in an individual pursuit. It is almost impossible to comprehend that that happened today [Saturday]and I came up here to enjoy some cycling but after seeing that, I was too disappointed to remain.
“Cycling is almost dead and it is disappointing to see just a handful of spectators at the Stadium. I am hurt to see that cycling has come to this. It is a far cry from what it should be,” he said.
Alleyne was making reference to eventual gold medallist Darren Matthews lapping his G4S Team Swift clubmate Ross Callender twice in the qualifying rounds of the Elite Individual Pursuit.
“Darren is a good rider but he must have good competition and Callender certainly did not provide that. Callender just sat down and rode for a ride. It’s not good enough.
“The other guys need to understand that the same way that Darren is at the top, they can get to the top too; but they have to work hard. I don’t see the other guys working hard,” he said.
Alleyne told MIDWEEK?SPORT that though modern-day riders had better equipment, the standard had plummeted over the years.
“The guys have better equipment, access to better training and nutrition but from what I have seen, the standard has dropped. When I rode in the 1970s and ’80s, we trained harder and there was great rivalry, even if you came up against a teammate.
“Even if you were in the same club, you competed against a teammate as hard as possible because you wanted to win and we did because we loved the sport. We didn’t do it because we wanted to get rewards because there were few rewards.
“Darren may love the sport but what is wrong with some of the other guys? Cycling is nothing like in our time,” he said.
There was just a sprinkling of spectators at the National Stadium and Alleyne was of the view that the Barbados Cycling Union failed to market and promote the championships.
“These are supposed to be national championships and nothing was done to promote them on the radio and in the newspaper. More needs to be done by those in charge of the sport,” he said.
Chase, one of the most complete cyclists this country has ever produced, having captured the match sprint, the time trial and the national road race, echoed Alleyne’s sentiments.
“For the type of equipment the guys are using now, I don’t think that cycling has improved. We need quality riders. I think the standard is not nearly close to the 1980s and early and mid-90s,” he said.
The 1988 Olympian thinks the sport cries out for better administration.
“Cycling really does need a serious injection. There is still too much in-fighting and it is worrying that some guys may not be riding because of concerns they have with the presidency and the administration of the sport. The administration definitely needs to be sorted out.”
Chase thought that 19-year-old Javed Mounter, the fastest man on wheels in the country, had a bright future ahead of him.
“Mounter has the potential to go far as long as he stays focused. If he is pushed, he can easily go under 11 seconds,” he said.
Chase also had good things to say about Darren Matthews, who was king of the individual pursuit, time trial and the omnium.
“Matthews has a great future and I think we have to invest in him a lot more. He clocked 5:03 in the individual pursuit and that is a very good time at the Stadium. In my day my club broke the team pursuit record, clocking five minutes flat. So for one rider to do 5:03, that is a tremendous time,” added Chase, who thought that teens Liam Lovell and Tremaine Forde-Catwell had the potential to go far.