Interview with Mark McCormack
”Boston deserves a premier event."
You've been a participant in top flight racing in the U.S. for many years now, how would you assess the current state of the New England-based crop of riders?
It is great to see that, with time, New England has become viewed by top teams as a place to find talent. When I started racing there was definitely a bias in cycling towards Colorado- and California-based riders. Currently New England has several top pros in Tim Johnson, Jesse Anthony, Shawn Milne, Adam Myerson, Jeremy Powers, Jamie Driscoll just to name a few. In the early portions of my pro career there was myself, my brother Frank, and Tyler Hamilton.
There are also a great level of amateur/Cat 1 and 2 racers that have great potential should the professional team market improve in the near future. We are fortunate to have a strong race calendar for riders to compete year round. We have several spring training series before the full season gets under way. And after the road season ends we have an incredible cyclo cross scene. For 10 months of the year New England is full of racing opportunities.
"We have an incredible cyclo cross scene"
Have changes in the state of the New England scene mirrored those nationally, or is there something specific to New England that has resulted in its current look? This is a tough one. In the past 3 years I have remained in New England and haven’t followed the other regions as closely as I did when I was traveling the country racing full time. I would imagine, though, that some regions have grown their racing systems like New England while other regions have not. For example, in the late '80s/early '90s Florida had an amazing winter scene for training and racing in the January, February, March time frame. To my knowledge that doesn’t exist now. It seems that lots of riders migrate to Tuscon, AZ, for their winter base but there isn’t the race network there like we had in Florida.
You are one of those already announced as competing in the re-born Mayor's Cup in Boston on September 26. The race is sponsored by TD Bank, one of the largest in New England, and has the backing of Tom Menino, mayor of Boston. It has a pretty sizable purse, too. What is your sense about the viability of this race going forward? Is there likely to be enough national interest to make this a major draw? I certainly hope so. This race is being held on a course that I can recall watching a “Mayors Cup” event as part of the Wheat Thins Series in the mid-80s. Boston in particular has a very strong cycling culture that goes beyond professional racing. Bicycle commuting, college students on bikes, bicycle messengers, etc. have been a big part in getting major changes on the streets of Boston. Nicole Freedman has done a great job spearheading these improvements (more bikes lanes, signage, etc.) and I am optimistic that with the Mayor’s Cup back on the schedule the city of Boston will witness the racing element on it streets for many years to come. With 2 sprint lines per lap this will surely be an incredibly fast race. The fact that there is $8,000.00 in premes in both the men’s and women’s race is incredible. Add to that the $12,000 prize list in each race and I can’t imagine this wouldn’t motivate some of the top U.S. pro riders to come out for the race.
I know that at this time of year most of the U.S.-based teams are running very low on their travel budget dollars and it can be left up to individual riders to decide if they want to make the trip. In this case, I really hope we see some top level national talent make the trip. If they do, this race has the potential to become a fixture in Boston for many years to come.
The mayor's "bike czar," former olympian Nicole Freedman, is one of the driving forces behind this race. She has talked about wanting to establish it as part of the NRC. How important for racing in the northeast would it be for this race to get on the calendar? I am not sure how big this would be for the race given how late in the year it is held. Typically, the standings at this point in the year would be fairly sorted out amongst the top riders and unless there were some additional points added where the race could have a substantial weighting I don’t think it would impact the end result of the NRC. However, having the race connected to the NRC has an effect of adding credibility to the event. I think that having a great event with good support for the riders and excellent exposure for the teams sponsors is the most important element. Team managers like to be able to show their sponsors “media impressions” at the end of the year and TV, newspaper, and on-line media exposure would be the most important tool to keep this event going into the future.
And your hopes for the day? Both personally and in terms of what you'll be looking for if the race is to make its mark regionally and nationally.I will be out at Interbike working the tradeshow for the lines I represent (FUJI, SE, Kestrel, Breezer, Shimano, and Pactimo) so I will not have had the ideal week leading up to the race. I have high hopes that Team FUJI/Clif Bar will have a rider on the podium at the finish and that we will be a big part of the action throughout the race. My team consists of my two brothers Frank and Shawn and Tobi Schultze for the Mayors Cup. With 4 riders I hope that we can get a solid result.
Boston deserves a premier event and I am excited that Nicole and her crew are bringing this to fruition. There should be a massive crowd of spectators and the racing will be extremely fast. I can’t wait!
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