Archive for the United Spokes Category

International Associations

Posted in United Spokes on February 2, 2010 by bethleasure

Links in the Chain

40“I’ve had enough.” Patrick Lefevere on resigning from AIGCP due to constant quarreling between the UCI and Grand Tour organizers

Nelson Mandela in yellow!

There are cycling associations with distinctive missions, activities, and concerns.The chain works best with well-oiled cooperation. These groups are links in a chain of multinational communication among special interest groups, the UCI and Grand Tour organize:

IPTC International Professional Cycling Teams,
AIGCP International Association of Professional Cycling Teams,
CPA Association of Professional Cyclists,
ADISPRO International Association of Directeur Sportifs,
MPCC Movement for Credible Cycling,
AIOCC International Association of Cycling Race Organizers, and
CAS Court of Arbitration for Sport called in to make rulings.

There may be other important organizations or powerful individuals not mentioned here that may contribute to a working dialogue.

The chain can get a bit squeaky during hard pushes. Conflicts arise over doping scandals and how to treat the alleged perpetrators: to exclude or not to exclude and who has the right to team selection in major events – UCI, the promoters, or the reps?

We do need leadership who can mediate and reunite factions in conflict. Perhaps cycling should look outside cycling for a neutral negotiator that understands how to bring a variety of perspectives, on the verge of breakdown, into a compatible cause.

Perhaps cycling needs a 41Nelson Mandela – a consummate diplomat whose appeal transcends provincial interest and outmoded regimes and who represents positive change and willingness to patiently endure for it. Pro cycling needs to oil its chain. Some literature refers to oil as a symbol of grace. Less finger pointing, more merciful discussions please.

Prayer for International Associations
“How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity! It is like precious oil poured on the head… running down…down upon the collar of his robes.[the links of his chain] …” 42Psalm 133:1-2

Cover our shame and help the people and issues in these causes and organizations. Restore talks, reveal solutions, raise up cooperative leadership to improve cycling at the top. Let this be cleansing balm that trickles down to the common cyclist. Amen.

Ponder Whom do I blame for cycling’s recent disgraces? Aren’t we all in some ways to blame? Affirm I am as much to blame. Intolerance for cheating starts with me. Watch and pray for continued talks.

40“Lefevere stops as head of AIGCP,” Latest Cycling News for December 5, 2007 Edited by Gregor Brown, with assistance from Susan Westemeyer

41Nelson Mandela was pardoned and released from prison by President F.W. de Klerk after serving twenty-seven years in prison for activities related to ending apartheid, a policy of racial separation. Afterwards, Mandela became the first Black president of South Africa, and he chose de Klerk as his first deputy. “However, the relationship was sometimes strained, particularly so in a sharp exchange in 1991 when he furiously referred to De Klerk as the head of ‘an illegitimate, discredited, minority regime.’” ( Even so, Mandela and de Klerk were jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993. Mandela’s presidency and involvement in the U.N. was characterized by a Policy of Reconciliation, and he won respect for his advocacy of national and international cooperation. Mandela’s urging for Black South Africans to support previously hated white South African national rugby team and his presentation of the World Champion trophy to the captain, an Afrikaner, was “widely seen as a major step in the reconciliation” process. He is a great statesman, able to endure long negotiations among highly conflicted parties.

42The Bible, New International Version, Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society

Nouveau Départ Fresh Start

Posted in United Spokes on February 21, 2009 by bethleasure

46“We came here to produce a good race, to give a good spectacle and to do our job as bike riders… Everybody has to respect this race that is a big part of the history of cycling…the UCI will understand….We’ll find something for cycling out of this confusion, I’m confident…we’ve been here to work and all the other things aren’t important for us.”     David Rebellin, Pro Cyclist, Classics Winner


Teams have risked sanctions to race chosen beloved events. From global expansion to continental conservatism and conflict, in the end it’s the riders who decide. Which events are important and why? What has financial rewards, historical significance, or is just plain good hard racing? These are questions that riders contemplate. The backing of sponsors is based on business strategy for exposure to certain demographics. Even so, the capabilities and interests of riders ultimately sway the event selection of thoughtful directors and managers. A rider doesn’t have to say anything in all the raging controversy among international associations. Where his legs line up says it all. Then the fans echo the sentiment, particularly European fans. There ought to be a European Institute of Cycling Supporters with course offerings in uphill running, sign-making, body painting and costuming, race-side exhibits, cycling statistics, and safe race cheering. Fans add an exciting element to the spectacle of a race. Perhaps it’s another element that attracts riders. Plans for race calendars and prestigious series may start at a negotiating table, but the finish line is crossed by a rider on a bicycle, who may be paid for that service, but who still does it because it means something. All the united organizing aside, it’s still like market-driven economics – consumer’s choice. The ultimate decision-makers are the fans and the riders. Choose well all, and let the season begin!


Prayer for New Race Season

“Your beginnings will seem humble, so prosperous will your future be.” 47Job 8:7


We are glad that so many choices exist in this era of cycling. We confess in the confusion of selection as many interests are in conflict. We ask for order to come into this new era so that calendars, organizers and governing bodies are in agreement. We ask for blessing on a new race season in a new racing era!


Ponder Am I willing to choose the best over the good? Affirm I can speak with my legs and know that sometimes silent action is more influential than screaming protest. Watch how riders influence world cycling events.



46“Rebellin asks the UCI to respect riders and races,” By Jean-François Quénet in Nice, First Edition Cycling News, March 17, 2008 Edited by Laura Weislo


47The Bible, New International Version, Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society

United Front

Posted in United Spokes on February 20, 2009 by bethleasure

United Front

43Anything less than a united front with regard to the international organization of professional cycling presents an additional obstacle in all of our efforts to attract the sponsors our sport needs to grow and flourish.”                                                               Steve Johnson, CEO of USA Cycling


From Afghanistan to Zimbabwe, about 170 nations have cycling 44federations. As national governing bodies for cycling, their mission is to grow membership, raise money to support programs, and produce medals. Their activities include running national teams, athlete development and selection, event sanctioning, training/education, licensing, research for cycling-related science, and representing all its affiliates usually in the form of bike clubs, racing organizations, teams, officials, and mechanics. The federations are in turn represented by the UCI. Many federations are also members of one of the continental confederations. The confederations coordinate their respective continental racing calendars and influence the UCI. Both national and continental federations are concerned with indigenous or local interests, and their territory’s impact upon the world cycling scene. In the world of international law, the International Criminal Court is based on a treaty joined by 105 countries to try individual cases of crimes against humanity, but ICC will not act if a case is investigated by a national judicial system unless the proceedings were undertaken solely to shield a person from criminal responsibility. In international affairs, national interest still means something. In cycling, national interests of international concern also mean something. The dispute between national federations, even appealing to country leadership, against the UCI over the inclusion of the Grand Tours as part of the ProTour is proving complex. Solutions must be found using old-fashioned diplomacy: jurisdiction, bargaining, treaties. On to the roundtable!


Prayer for National Federations, Continental Confeds

“To the peoples, nations and men of every language, who live in all the world:
       May you prosper greatly!”
45Daniel 4:1


We are grateful for a vast and growing global organization for cycling. We pray for the prosperity of our national and continental federations and for continued efforts toward diplomatic solution which benefit all.


Ponder How can I help cycling grow? Affirm I am a member of my national federation and support programs which affect me as a rider. Watch your knowledge and appreciation of riding improve through affiliation with your federation.


43“French federation chief says he’ll go to court if Paris-Nice riders are suspended,” Posted Mar. 5, 2008

44Directories→National Federations Continental Confederations are: Asian Cycling Confederation, Union Européenne de Cyclisme, Oceanian Cycling Confederation, Confederacion Panamericana de Ciclismo, Confederation Africaine de Cyclisme.

45The Bible, New International Version, Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society

Power to the Peloton

Posted in United Spokes on February 18, 2009 by bethleasure

37“We have for every Belgian team (2 Pro Tour – 2 Pro Continental – 8 Continental) one rider as our spokesman for their team. We are now installing for next year a rider’s council…so we can discuss urgent matters and we send some newsletters to our riders to give them information or to ask for their opinion. We give support to the riders…members can come to us for individual problems (salary problems, prize money, contracts, accidents.) We try also to make some collective bargaining agreements for the riders so we can offer them better working and salary conditions…We also have contacts with the Belgian Cycling Federation to solve some problems within teams. We are also member of the international trade union, CPA.”

Stijn Boeykens, SPORTA – Belgium’s Union for Cyclists


A long quote because this notion is foreign to riders in English-speaking countries. We have no cycling trade union, no rider representatives to speak for individual teams, no collective bargaining. The main voice for the American peloton is the swooshing of spokes, poetic but not at all political for practical concerns. All we have is 38one rider who represents American professional cycling interests to CPA, International Association of Professional Cyclists. CPA called for the commitment of all active in professional cycling, not just riders only, to sign agreements holding them accountable to clean cycling; and for riders to be more systematically consulted on relevant topics, such as: reasonable compensation/benefits, humane schedules/work practices, biological accountability balanced with privacy, and many others. Even America’s wealthy, powerful players’ associations in major sports started with one athlete who couldn’t make a living on just thousands per year and was outraged by it – dating back from the 1960s!!! To make it work, the Dutch cyclist union affiliates as a volunteer organization with their soccer trade union. The Belgian union is associated with a trade association for all sportsmen. Surely, the U.S. has an existing organization or an outraged rider who could ignite representation. Further, there is no cycling union from any English-speaking nation. I’m writing in plain English: we need a union for professional cyclists!


Prayer for Unions in Cycling

“You must be the people’s representative…and bring their disputes to him…Teach them the decrees and laws, and show them the way to live and the duties they are to perform.” 39Exodus 18:19-20


We ask for representation. We confess inactivity/complacency about disparities and freedom of speech. We pray for a voice beyond the whisper in our English wheels and ask blessing on existing unions.

Ponder How can I right this wrong? Affirm We can become a cycling republic. Watch for a way to take action!


37Dialogue with Stijn Boeykens about the nature of national rider associations and how they interact with the international association, CPA. John van den Akker of Cycling Service, the Dutch trade union was also responsive in my research.

38Currently, the American rider representative is George Hincapie, a suitable leader for American interests in Pro Tour and European professional racing, a true cycling diplomat.

39The Bible, New International Version, Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society

Accord Paritaire Joint Agreement

Posted in United Spokes on February 17, 2009 by bethleasure

34“I’d much rather my guys have health insurance before we spend the money for a professional license. Cycling isn’t going to grow if licensed teams aren’t taking proper care of their riders. The riders will suffer. It’s not even healthy. The priorities in the sport are back-asswards.”  Craig Dodson, Elite Cyclist, on his new pro development team’s commitment to benefits

An unmerciful irony is the number of elite and professional bike racers who are rolling billboards for health insurance and health-related sponsors, who are themselves uninsured and unable to have proper health care. This is an injustice that needs to be rectified. A reformist would know which channels to petition, but we start with this prayer. If an organization cannot afford to responsibly cover the health and accident related hazards of the work of their representatives, then appropriate licensing to race in certain categories may be reconsidered. The current system supports dismal prospects for financial resources by its chief users. Most riders are scrambling to make their 35Annual Twelve just to keep racing. A pro in this position must rely on others to supplement their incomes. Regardless of the liberalization of gender roles, it’s hard on a male psyche to not feel like a breadwinner or worse like a drain on his wife. Likewise, female cyclists sometimes make poor choices for cohabitation or compromise integrity to gain the resources necessary to keep racing. This may crumble emotional support and a cumulative spiral toward poor performance begins, which is another tempting ground for drug use. We applaud a basis for anti-doping incentives by licensing authorities that begins with built-in baseline budget requirements,  covering costs for reasonable athlete salaries and compensation packages. Sponsors and others are reaping rewards from cycling exposure. The teams are providing a service. Many of these riders and staff are earning at most “tips” with no minimum wage.
“Woe to you…you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices…But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former.” 36Matthew 23:23

Prayer for Athletes Rights
We ask forgiveness for exploitation. We ask for redistribution of resources in tandem with healthy growth. We pray for reformists to arise who work with key organizations for changes that protect riders.

Ponder Am I directly or indirectly allowing exploitation in cycling? Affirm I am an agent for change. Watch your small but unique contribution for improvement add up to major reform.


34Conversations with Craig Dodson about his concept to properly provide for riders. Craig is focused on domestic pro development which has different considerations than euro-pro development; but even for American crit racing, he feels strongly that rider rights are a high priority. See this article also: “Richmond gets new pro cycling team,” Latest Cycling News, March 7, 2008 Edited by Hedwig Kröner, with assistance from Susan Westemeyer

35Annual Twelve is the euphemism for the salary which shows you’ve “made it” as a pro in America. If you earn $1,000 a month, then at least you have money enough to eat and can continue racing. This assumes a creative resourcefulness for a home base with little overhead and certainly no budget for “frills” like health insurance.

36The Bible, New International Version, Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society

Eagles Wings

Posted in United Spokes on February 16, 2009 by bethleasure

31“It seems like the Americans are now peloton insiders. How did the American movement come about… I think the revolution was started by such great people as Greg LeMond, Davis Phinney…it’s easier for Americans in Europe than ever before…riders can fit in on any team now. There are English speakers on most teams…And more than ever English has become the language of the peloton.”                                                     David Zabriskie, Pro Cyclist, World TT Medalist


American cycling is no longer the new kid on the block of elite racing, but we’re still youthful and growing into the big cycling shoes we could wear as a superpower. Ten Tour de France wins don’t make us the dominant world power, but have helped shift attentions and resources toward the New World. Now I think we’re cycling’s teenagers, asserting some autonomy but still in need of direction and paternalism from global governance. In our maturation process, we’re experiencing growing pains: changes among sponsorships for D1/ProTour teams, one international tour attracting top talent, some input into UCI and Grand Tour decisions, limited representation in other international associations for riders, and growing interest in some races on the Americas Tour. We are in a rite of passage for producing world class athletes by getting our men’s and our women’s programs to Europe. We’re also bringing down the age of our euro-ready pros to be more in line with competitive programs that begin in adolescence.


I would like to see more U.S. involvement in world decisions – an American cycling “embassy” – with more international exchange of riders and more representation in international associations. Yet I wouldn’t want a cycling world with American domination. Racing with the dominance of one team or program isn’t as interesting or as fruitful for as many. Instead, parity is perfection, in my opinion. Like an eagle soaring on high, hopefully, we can continue a trend which is earning this privilege and stay aloft in the upper strata of the sport – while retaining our youthful enthusiasm.


Prayer for American Cycling

who satisfies your desires with good things
       so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.”
32Psalm 103:5


We are grateful for a country with great cycling terrain and a growing rate of participation. We confess our disdain with 33ugly Americanism. We pray for smart growth and blessing upon American cycling.


Ponder How can I improve the level of my cycling experiences? Affirm I can be revolutionary for reform and growth. Watch and spread your risk between ambitious projects and safe havens.


31“American Cycling Grows Up (Sort Of),” an interview between Floyd Landis and Dave Zabriskie by Loren Mooney, Tour de France 2007

32The Bible, New International Version, Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society

33Being a patriotic American is different from being an Ugly American or behaving like every nation on earth must be just like us played out as an annoying tourist while traveling abroad: loud-talking, thinking everyone should speak English, and general ignorance about the culture one is visiting.