Thursday 16 August 2012

Who'd run a women's cycling team...?

So you buy your riders, get their bikes and kit sorted, perhaps even get some sort of bus and a support vehicle if you've been fortunate enough to end up with enough cash. Then you enter them into some races and they work hard, paying back your faith and support by riding themselves to the brink of exhaustion - and beyond it, when necessary - and, gradually, if you're lucky and can do your job as well as your riders strive towards doing theirs, perhaps you win a few races. Your team's profile increases, people notice you and, maybe, a bit more cash comes in, so you and your riders start to dream of developing the team further, making it even better...

...and then your main sponsor pulls out. Everything you have built up is gone, just like that, and you've got to tell those riders who have given you so much and lived and worked together that you can't pay them anymore and they've got to go looking for new teams.

It happens time and time again, especially right after the Olympics and almost always just when you think that - finally, after all these years - things might be beginning to look up for the criminally overlooked and underfunded sport. Sometimes, it must be impossible not to think how very easy it would be to give up.

Leontien van Moorsel and Michael Ziljaard have been doing all this for seventeen years. They'll be missed sorely, but they kept going far longer than most people would be able to survive without giving up.

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