Pro Cycling

IRAN | going ballistic for cycling

Earlier this month, an article in the Tehran Times explained the country’s road cyclists had helped Iran top the UCI’s Asia Tour rankings for the 2011 season. This meant the Iran Olympic team could field the maximum number of three cyclists at the 2012 London Games’ road cycling race.

With four individuals in the top ten of the Men’s Elite UCI Asia Tour final ranking, Iran can make a fairly solid claim to be a cycling nation. After all, the second-ranked nation in the Asia Tour rankings is Japan; with Tour de France finisher Yukiya Arashiro leading the country’s individual standings.

After gaining maximum road cycling berths for the third-successive Olympics, and with four UCI 2.2 ranked stage races on the calendar, is it realistic to think that Iran might one day host a ‘Hors Catégorie’ or even WorldTour event? After all, the Japan Cup is ranked 1.HC, and they’re second place in the rankings. Shame! But what is Iran going to do about it?

Given all the talk of corruption within UCI ranks – most recently over the fast-tracking of the Tour of Beijing into a WorldTour event – it’s only fitting to refer to Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index for an indication of where we might see the travel-weary peloton head to in the future.

Russia, with a 2010 TICPI score of 2.1 (10 being “very clean”, 0 being “highly corrupt), and earmarked as the nation most likely to win the next UCI prize for “most likely to purchase the next Global Cycling Promotion WorldTour event”, has a lower ranking than Iran, which sparkles with a score of 2.2.

Clearly frustrated by this, the Iran government has obviously searched for innovative ways in which they could not only secure a better (read: worse) perception of corruption and hence a prestigious cycling event, but assist their athletes with the best equipment at the same time. It was no coincidence an announcement was made in August this year that Iran, under the leadership of the Ministry of Defense-controlled Iran Aerospace Industries Organization, had inaugurated the country’s first production line for carbon fiber.

In the Tehran Times, Defense Minister Ahmad Vahidi was reported to note the following facts, as he cut the 1k ribbon:

“Carbon fiber can be used in the manufacture of military and non-military equipment. In military applications, carbon fiber can be used in the manufacture of heat nozzle shields, light bodies of rocket motors of missiles that run on solid fuel, wings and fuselages of various military aircraft, and the bodies of light weapons, he explained.

On non-military usages, he said the material can be used in the manufacture of repositories, oil and gas rigs, wind turbines, electric fuel cells, non-military airplane fuselages and brake pads, train carriages, and sports equipment, he added.” – Excerpt from Tehran Times, 27 August 2011

Furthermore, experts in Sweden (2010 TICPI score of 9.2, FYI) have been co-operating with Nooh-e Jonoub Ship Manufacturing Company in Southern Iran since 2009 to develop “carbon fiber vessels”.

So it’s possible that Iran, in breaking away from UN conventions, has moved closer to the top of the UCI’s list of next WorldTour destinations. If not, we might predict Iran will clean up the Kayaking, Rowing and Cycling events in London next year.

 

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