So you want to be a pro? You've logged the miles, you've done the training, and you've read every article ever written. So how do you take that final step towards a pro license? What separates a good cat 1 from a continental pro? Ultimately, it's up to a team director like myself to make that decision.
We often talk about what it takes to race your bike at the highest level in terms of fitness and physical ability but there are a lot of great riders out there and only a few ever make it to the pro level. Race results are important, but they form only part of the equation.
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It's a cliché, but cycling, like any professional sport, is a business. As owner and director of the Wonderful Pistachios Professional Cycling Team it is up to me to choose the riders who will best represent my sponsors for the season. Here's a glimpse at the decision-making process that allows me to extract just 12 riders from the more than 500 resumes I received this year.
Race results are a factor in my decision but what does that mean specifically? I'm not so interested in your home town crit series or state championships you've won. I want to see your experience at the highest level, i.e. NRC and UCI races. A top 20 at an NRC race is more significant to me than any results at the local level no matter how good. I want to know that you can win races, but if you don't have solid experience at the national or international level, I can't be sure that you will have what it takes to hang at the professional level.
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Past Team Experience
This may not be the most accurate way to judge a rider's worth, but past professional experience is definitely a factor when considering a potential hire. If I see that you have been hired by other professional team directors in the past, it tells me that they saw something in you that they liked. Guys who have ridden for top pro teams often don't have much in the way of personal results because they have spent their careers sacrificing for other riders. A rider without a single top 20 result who has ridden consistently at the pro level for many years is someone who I know will be a good team player.
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I get resumes from riders from dozens of countries, many I have never heard of with letters in their names that don't exist in the English language. If I haven't heard of the country, chances are I don't recognize the races you have won or the references you list. The unfortunate truth is that in order to consider an international rider there truly has to be something about them that is exceptional. It is also very difficult to deal with a language barrier and the expense of bringing in a rider from outside the country. As a final barrier, the UCI requires that a majority of your riders be citizens of the country where the team is registered. So if you are an international rider the cards are stacked against you.
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