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UCI World Masters Championships

12th September - 17th September

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Women in Charge on the Track

There was a respectful whisper as I was welcomed by people I knew as I bumped into them when I blundered into the velodrome at Manchester - late : "Lori-Ann Meunzer is here - have you seen her?" The answer was 'yes' - in fact, by chance she was one of the first people I saw as I (finally) arrived on the evening of the first day's competition - Monday. A lengthy journey from the women's road World Cup at Nürnberg in Germany to Manchester included some not very 'joined-up' thinking about itineraries which delayed my arrival - but that's for another time........ The Canadian team 'pit' was just behind the area used by the photographers inside the track centre, so seeing the Athens Olympic Champion for the sprint was inevitable!

Lori-Ann Meunzer spent a week in the track centre at Manchester without donning a skinsuit and so, too, did another prolific trackie of a similar age, but from a different era of winning - Lucy Tyler (perhaps previously known to some readers as Lucy Tyler-Sharman). The pair were there simply to work for their teams - club riders with whom they train, or coach, or are coached-by during the year and who had engaged the women for the week as their team managers. The pair were there for the visible tasks of changing wheels, carrying bikes, holding up riders / pushing riders off in sprint events, catching the riders afterwards whilst they unlock their feet from the pedals, providing towels and drinks whilst the riders warm down and generally looking after rider needs. 

They were also there as managers, though. The less-visible acts of ensuring that official communications are noted and adhered to. That riders are signed on for the correct events. They were also ensuring that riders knew the times of their events and that they arrived at the track in time, warmed-up fully, got to the holding area before events and knew when their next rounds were and all the details which go along with ensuring the smooth running of the team and that the riders do not worry about detail, just their event.

Each of the women had different reasons for being there. A quick chat with them revealed the following about each:

Lori-Ann Meunzer's coach is Steen Madsen. He, his brother, Lars and Timothy Caulfield all ride for the same 'home' club as Meunzer - Juventus (System 5). This was one of Steen's final competitions and his final Masters, for a while at least, before he has other commitments on his time - a young baby on the way. When Meunzer was asked if she would act as manager for trip, she jumped at the chance to be there with Steen for such a momentous occasion. "He has done so much for me in the past and I just wanted to give something back, especially in his final event". 

She may have been there for partially sentimental reasons, but there was nothing but serious intent as she supervised race preparations - physical and mechanical and then went through the suspense of watching the riders compete in their events. They were completely serious about what they were doing and she was serious about her support services for them. "Its not often that women manage teams - they are sometimes allowed to hold up riders in the sprint heats, but when it gets to the finals, they get 'bumped'. Lucy and I are running the show for our teams here. That's unusual - we may be making history here.

The Juventus team took silver in the Open Team Sprint. In addition, Steen Madsen was third in the kilometre TT, Lars took silver in the sprint and Steen took home a gold in his sprint event.

 

Lucy Tyler has been coaching at Trexlertown in Pennsylvania since 2000. She was working with a small team of sprinters at Manchester, who she coaches during the year. Its serious stuff - she runs sessions in the mornings which start at 5am. "No excuses!

At Manchester, Tyler was the team manager, mechanic and massage therapist. During the sprint sessions earlier in the week, she was kept busy carrying bikes backwards and forwards to and from the start line for her riders. Tyler admitted that she runs a "'tight camp', but that's what the guys need."

Tyler is slowly getting back into competition herself. She has taken a couple of years off for personal reasons, but was spotted doing static trainer sessions whilst her riders were in the showers, or back at the hotel. She is building up to a return to competition and will be looking at Masters level racing in 'maybe a year or so'. If she does return to racing, she intends to mix her own racing with coaching, so there is no end in sight for Team Tyler at Trexlertown just yet!

Until then, she can be spotted passing on her knowledge to her riders at track meetings and even giving them the advantage of her knowledge of the rules and how they can be bent and pushed - literally. In the team sprint qualifying, her team received a false start and were made to go again when an official spotted that Tyler had pushed the rider she was holding up instead of simply letting go of him and allowing him to move away from her unassisted.

Greggs Specialised - Tyler's team were second in the 135years+ Team Sprint. 

 

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