20 Mar ‘Chairman of the Boards’, Andreas Mueller powerhouse for California Wave
By James Raia
CARSON, Calif. — Andreas Mueller isn’t the oldest rider competing in the World Cycling League debut. But at age 36, the California Wave rider is known as the Chairman of the Boards with good reason.
Mueller of Berlin, Germany, has competed in the specialty of six-racing, one of the cycling’s oldest disciplines, for 15 of his 22 competitive years of racing. He began in Stuttgart in 2001 and has competed around the globe. He’s now claimed 17 German and Austrian national track championships, including his home city event, the Berlin Six-Day, in 2014.
“There haven’t been many changes,” Mueller said Saturday during the intermission of the day session the debut event premiering at the VELO Sports Center. “Maybe for the first 10 years, nothing changed. But in recent years, the races are getting shorter, but only a little.”
Mueller’s longevity has provided him with a uniques status in cycling. He’s competed in 88 Six-Day races, more than anyone. “There are a few guys who are close, but actually I am leading the unofficial scoreboard,” he chuckled. Maybe I can get to 100.”
Before adding to his total, Mueller had a more immediate concern. With 41 other riders on six teams and from 11 countries, Mueller is competing as one of the enduro riders for the Wave in the track cycling’s newest competition. He’s racing four times in each session.
“For the younger riders, they don’t know the old system, so I think for them it’s just natural,” said Mueller, whose squad finished second on the opening session and third in Saturday’s afternoon program. “I think it’s good with short races; it will be the future. I don’t think the spectators want to see one-hour chases.”
“Of course, I like it. It’s my favorite discipline. But it doesn’t count what the cyclists like. It’s more for the spectators. It’s quicker. The races are bam, bam, bam.”
While while strategically working with with team Zachary Kovalcik or Portland, Ore., to exchange wins Friday night, the duo continued their strong efforts Saturday, although Mueller was eliminated late in the concluding 12,000-meter endurosprint.
The surprising finish prompted another surprise. The Mexico Heat and Pennsylvania Lightning finished the second session with 95 points each. In a four-rider tiebreaker race called an “Italian Sprint,” the Heat edged the Lightning in a photo finish with Ignacio Prado of Guadalajara, Mexico, holding off fast-charging Kwesi Browne of Trinidad-Tobago. Browne won two events earlier in the second sessiom.
The drama also provided an ideal example of Mueller’s enthusiasm for the World Cycling League’s format — team racing in fast-moving men’s and women’s events.
“I think they’ve done big thinking; they’ve thought about this and what to do for a long time,” Mueller said. “They’ve done a really good job. For sure, there always some small things to improve. But that doesn’t matter. The important thing is that the concept is right.”
“But always the first step is hard, but someone has to do the first step, like everywhere in life. Maybe in five years, there will be worldwide races like this.”