I like road cycling. Not just going for a ride myself, but also to watch it on tv. From the days of Claudio Chiappucci, Gianni Bugno, and Miguel Indurain, via Bjarne Riis, Jan Ullrich, and Lance Armstrong, all the way to Bradley Wiggings, Chris Froome, and Peter Sagan. Like most of the world’s population, I used to like the Tour de France best, but I’ve moved to the more interesting races: Tour of Flanders, Paris-Roubaix, Strade Bianchi, Tour of Spain, and the likes.
There one annoying thing about being a fan of cycling, and that’s the shift in dynamics of the sports itself. Teams were always part of the sports, but ever since Lance Armstrong started dominating the Tour de France, teams have become almost as important as the individual riders. Some of today’s best sprinters would be nowhere without a proper lead-out train (right, Marcel?), and it remains a big question whether Fabio Aru and Vincenzo Nibali would have ever won a Tour without the help of their Astana team.
So, it is safe to say cycling has turned into a proper team sports. And I would like to root for a team. But which team? I’m Dutch, so I would like to cheer for a Dutch team. Currently, we have LottoNL-Jumbo, clearly a Dutch team. However, in 2014 this team was called Belkin and was sponsored by a US company. Before that, in 2013, it was called Blanco, because of the lack of (official) sponsor. Between 1996 and 2012 the team was called Rabobank. This period of 16 years gave an idea of what it would be like to have a real team in cycling for which to cheer. Most of the time, however, teams change names and nationality every two or three years.
Compare this situation to other team sports: football, basketball, baseball, field hockey, … The foundation are actual clubs, that have been around for decades (or longer). People feel attracted to a club, they are a fan, they follow their parents footsteps in rooting for a particular club. None of this is happening in cycling. Wouldn’t it be great to watch cycling races with your grandkids, all cheering for the same team that has been around for over 30 years?
This whole blog post was merely a long introduction of BEAT Cycling Club. Launched in 2016, this initiative is trying to achieve exactly what I describe above. Start a proper cycling club, that also has a professional team. You can become a member of the club, feel connected to it, and start cheering the professional team in races. I’ve endorsed the idea by becoming a “pioneer” member. I encourage you to do the same!