I was walking down Main Street from the finish line of the US Pro road race to the post-race press conference. It was 2008 and Tyler Hamilton had just won the national championships in Greenville, South Carolina in a photo finish sprint with Blake Caldwell of Garmin-Chipotle (now Garmin-Barracuda). Teammate of Caldwell, Danny Pate, finished in third.
Pate passed me on his bike talking to a fellow racer as he rolled over to the press conference. I don’t remember verbatim what he said but I swear Pate said he wanted to throw his third place medal into the nearby Reedy River.
That comment stuck with me because I would have been thrilled to have finished third in a national championship – but stating the obvious – I don’t race bikes for a living. For the most part a professional racer cares about one thing – winning. Also, the US Pro road race at that time didn’t have prize money. First or DFL you received the same amount of prize money – zero. The only thing worth sprinting for was the honor of wearing the Stars and Stripes jersey.
Last week I interviewed Danny Pate for Cyclingnews.com. He had moved on from Garmin, transferred to HTC-Highroad in 2011 and for 2012 signed a two-year deal with Team Sky. The purpose of my interview was to catch up with him, talk about Paris-Nice and adjusting to another new team. I asked the questions I needed for the interview and then I remembered him being upset after the US Pro road race, so I asked him.
“I was upset at several thing there at that race,” Pate told me. “I was upset at how that race worked out. The radios weren’t working. I was mad, because of course, I didn’t win and our team didn’t even win.”
“I was mad at a couple of people, but that’s what happens.”
I asked who he was mad at and he jokingly replied that he was mad at me.
“There’s a lot of people mad at me. You need to get in line,” I replied.
As the date for the US Pro championships gets nearer I have a feeling that this will be the last time Greenville will host the race. The race has been in the Southeast for seven years and prior to that in Philadelphia ever since they handed out professional road race national championship jerseys.
In January it was announced that Greenville was going to host the 2014 para-cycling world championships. I asked Managing Partner of Medalist Sports, Chris Aronhalt, if there was a possibility of a venue change for the championships.
“The Request For Proposal (RFP) has been out from USA Cycling for over nine months now and I know they have had on-going discussions with several cities and partner sponsors that want to be part of the event,” said Aronhalt.
“Greenville has been considered, but obviously with the para-cycling world championships [awarded to Greenville for 2014] I’m sure there’s a question should they continue with both or stay focused on para-cycling.”
“As of now Greenville has not said no, we’re not going to bid on this, but they haven’t submitted a bid.”
It was suggested to me by someone with some inside knowledge that this is Greenville’s final year as a host.
Micah Rice, Managing Director of National Events, emailed me stating that an official announcement of where the US Pro will be contested might come in “early May we think.”
For selfish reasons I’d love for it to continue in my hometown of Greenville, but I also recognize that for the growth of the sport the championships need to be contested in another city. Perhaps the West coast? Maybe a course in Colorado? I guess we’ll find out in a couple of months.