As professional road cycling continues to spread its global wings, it has been fascinating to witness the number of Asian, Australian and Kiwi cyclists breaking into the top echelon of professional road cycling; sometimes via quite long and convoluted pathways. Starting with Oceania, Cycling iQ looks at where “home” is for these pioneering riders.
We often hear of the lengths a rider will go to in order to meet his dream of “turning pro”. Months away from family and friends; in a foreign country, often without speaking the language; strange food, etc. It seems that Australian and Kiwi cyclists, in particular, have developed a reputation for going far and wide to achieve their cycling objectives. Is this true?
For the 2012 season, there are currently 30 UCI-registered Kiwi pro road cyclists racing across all three divisions (ProTeam, ProContinental, Continental) of the global cycling calendar. Kiwis account for just over 1% of the entire UCI-registered pro cycling database this year, but they are spread across 13 of the 193 registered teams. [Larger version here]
[Note: as a South Islander, my sincere apologies for omitting most of the (vastly superior) lower half of New Zealand with the flag sphere. Trying hard to be non-partisan, etc, etc…]
As can be seen above, New Zealanders are racing on every continent, as defined by the UCI’s five Continental Circuits’ (Africa, Americas, Asia, Europe, Oceania). 33% of all Kiwi cyclists are domiciled with a team in their home country; the sole NZ-registered Subway Cycling Team! Whilst Clinton Avery (Champion System) is the lone ProContinental rider, New Zealand is well-represented in the Continental and ProTeam divisions. Here’s the breakdown:
So, how about the Aussies? For the 2012 season, there are currently 104 UCI-registered Australian pro road cyclists racing across all three divisions (ProTeam, ProContinental, Continental) of the global cycling calendar. Aussies account for just over 3.6% of the entire UCI-registered pro cycling database this year, but they are spread across 28 of the 193 registered teams. That means there is a 1 in 7 chance of finding an Australian rider in a randomly-selected professional cycling team! [Larger version here]
When it’s mapped out, as it is above, the vast reach and spread of Australian pro cyclists is impressive. Whilst GreenEDGE employs over half of all Aussie ProTeam riders, Australian-registered Continental teams contain most (44) of the 61 AUS-domiciled riders. USA and UK-registered teams are the next-biggest employers of Australian male professional road cyclists.
WHERE TO NEXT?
Though the above maps present a snapshot of where Australian and New Zealand pro cyclists are, they don’t tell us anything about each rider’s reason for being where they are. Those individual stories will be told here and on foremost Oceania-based cycling websites RIDE Cycling Review, CyclingTips and RoadCyclingNZ.
There’s no doubt that we are seeing more nationalities competing in the Grand Tours and Monuments of cycling than ever before. Whilst some ProTeams still appear “closed” to foreign riders, pro cycling’s top division is certainly opening up. The following chart shows from which continent today’s ProTeams are recruiting their riders from, and possibly hints at where our Oceania cyclists might end up if they make it to the ProTeam ranks.
Coming up next, we’ll look at Asia.