International Track Cyclists Bring Talent, Personality and Grit to World Cycling League Premiere

International Track Cyclists Bring Talent, Personality and Grit to World Cycling League Premiere


LOS ANGELES – For those who think the only true racing cyclists pedal for six hours a day over Alpine passes in 200-kilometer jaunts…think again.

On March 18 and 19 a different breed of two-wheeled male and female athlete will redefine what it means to ride a bike fast. The World Cycling League has contracted with some of the most talented and spectacular bike racing performers from around the world to show their stuff on the steeply banked 250-meter track at the VELO Sports Center in Carson next month.

Comparing rough and tumble track stars to long distance road racers is like comparing a raging tornado with a pleasant breeze. They dart up and down the 45 degree bank turns and whip around the wooden bowl at speeds of more than 40 miles per hour, often banging shoulders, butting heads and sliding off the track. The team names only begin tell the story: Colorado Cyclones, Connecticut Nor’Easters, PA Lightning, Dublin Thunder, Mexico Heat and the home team, California Wave.

In fact the roster of forty-two riders (24 men and 18 women) is peppered with world-class athletes from 11 nations. “All these athletes competing love the excitement of close quarter racing and have the scars and moxie to prove it,” said WCL CEO David Chauner.

Take Missy Erickson, a scrappy 25 year old multi-national champion and Olympic Long Team member. Last year, just two months after a training crash broke her collarbone in three places, fractured and dislocated her wrist, tore ligaments and meniscus, and gave her a severe concussion, she was back on the international circuit winning medals in high speed sprint races. Now fully recovered, Erickson is the designated sprinter for the California Wave and a home team favorite.

And then there are riders like Zach Kovalcik (CA Wave) and Matt Gittings (CT Nor’Easters) who get their kicks on the European indoor circuit racing drafting behind motorcycles in 50 MPH races that are the most esoteric of old school velodrome events.

Kovalcik, 32, hails from Pittsburgh where he started out as a bike messenger and was drawn to velodrome racing for the same thrill that he got delivering packages in downtown traffic.

“The WCL will finally give us an opportunity to showcase our power and speed in a Trak format that will surely entertain,” said Kovalcik. “I can’t wait for the world premier event because I’m sure it will introduce a new era of cycling in America, and, even the world.”

The WCL cyclists range in age and ability from 18-year-old Antonieta Gaxiola, a young rider who brings glamor and aspiring talent to the Mexican Heat to 40 year old Susie Mitchel, a World Champion who anchors the Dublin Thunder’s female endurance squad.

In between is a roster of diverse racers who have been compared to everything from Roman Gladiators to Roller Derby Queens to Chess Players on Wheels. Track racing is equal parts brute power, uncompromising drive and split second intuition and it attracts characters with personalities and backgrounds as diverse as working stiff and entrepreneur. Some have been award winning scholars and others have dropped out of college to pursue international racing. And many discovered cycling after promising careers in other sports.

Three of the Dublin Thunder, Con Collis, Eimear Moran and Eamonn Byrne, were international rowers, a demanding endurance sport that is known for power that can be transferred from oars to pedals. And Nate Koch, the California Wave’s flamboyant sprinter, traded a full track-and-field scholarship at Cal State Long Beach for a spot on the US National Cycling Team where he discovered that his flair for showmanship was much more appreciated as a sprint track cyclist in the packed velodromes of London and Berlin.

“Track cycling is like nothing else in sport,” said Koch. “The athleticism is something special from speed to endurance yet you have to have a bit of crazy mentality to mix it up at 50 miles per hour on less than one-inch of rubber and centimeters between wheels.”

“Bottom line, is we‘ve selected the first group of WCL cyclists from over 100 well-qualified international applicants to ensure we have a good mix of sprint and endurance talent,” said Chauner. “We’ve picked riders with both experience and promise who love to perform for the crowd and want to be part of a new chapter for American cycling.”

What fans should expect to see at WCL’s TeamTrak Premiere is remarkable athletes in highly entertaining, competitive sport. Each of the three performances features twelve high speed races, seven for men and five for women with points awarded in each race toward a cumulative team score. Races will be as short as two laps for sprinters and up to forty laps for endurance riders. Each of the six teams will field from one to four riders in each TeamTrak race with up to twenty-four riders on the track at once.

Some of the best from each team include:

#15 Andreas Mueller, Enduro, 36, Germany: Multiple World and European Champion. Known as the “Chairman of the Boards” and one of the top track cyclists in the world #17 Zane Torre, Enduro, 20, Costa Mesa, CA: Promising talent on the European U23 circuit just off the Berlin and Copenhagen Six Day races.

#21 Giddeon Massie, Sprinter, 34, Los Alamitos, CA: 2X Olympian, 20x U.S. National Champion. Competed on over 50 velodromes worldwide #22 Dana Feiss, Sprinter, 26, Colorado Springs, CO: 4X National Track Champion, US National Team member, started racing at age 10.

#31 Matthew Rotherham, Sprinter, 21, GBR: 4x medalist, GBR Sprint Championship, one of the UK’s most promising sprinters #34 Tela Crane, Enduro, 29, Cypress, CA: 10x National Track Champion, U.S. National Team.

#42 Anita Yvonne Stenberg, Sprinter, 23, Norway: 20x Norwegian Track Champion. Popular sprinter in Berlin, London, Ghent #43 Stephen Hall, Enduro, 25, Australia: 25X Western Australia Track Champion, 2015 USA Track Rider of the Year, The “Wonder from Down Under”.

#52 Eimear Moran, Sprinter, 31, Ireland: Former international rower, took up cycling 2 years ago and swept all four Irish National Championship Titles. Amazing raw talent #55 Fintan Ryan, Enduro, 19, Ireland: National kilometer Champion, one of Ireland’s brightest young stars.

#61 Roberto Serrano, Sprinter, 29, Mexico: 2x Mexican National Champion and National Team member
#62 Daniela Gaxiola, Sprinter, 22, Mexico: 7x Mexico Track Champion, National Team member. Flashy and feisty sprinter.

Tickets are on sale for all performances.

The World Cycling League is the first independently owned and funded indoor track cycling league. Financed by individual investors, the WCL has partnered with Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG) to introduce WCL’s first event, the TeamTrak Premiere at AEG’s VELO Sports Center. The WCL is sanctioned as an invitational event to qualified track cyclists by the USA Cycling, the official governing body of cycling in the United States. KOM Sports Marketing of Colorado Springs, an industry leader for more than 20 years, is the marketing agency and has developed the logos and brand elements as well as promotions for the event.

WCL Contact: Steve Brunner, KOM Sports, 719.272.7022