Woah! If they are able to succeed with their model in the pro circuit, this could be a massive inflection point in the sport. Unless of course I’m totally not understanding what’s happening here. Wishing them well regardless!
The more the merrier, however, they will have to divert their energies after the next fee seasons to a marketing opportunity rather than morale based plan.
Im a Director of a (British) UCI Conti Team and funding and interested parties are harder to find than wins are.
Good luck to them and hopefully the Development Team wont be forgot
Ah, L39GION…doing all the things the uci won’t.
L39ion in the news again … for all the right reasons.
They are pioneering, and not to be sniffed at. This will likely be the UCI’s most ethically diverse Conti Team we’ve seen. I’d love to see them in the World Tour.
Worldwide, pro road racing is similarly homogenous; fewer than 10 percent of men’s WorldTour riders are non-white, and roughly half come from a single country, Colombia. Just five out of the 556 riders on WorldTour teams are Black.
Look at this nonsense. What year is it. I’m sure there’s certain sorts who would roundly approve no doubt.
UCI are clearly stuck in the past and that isn’t changing, but some grassroots efforts pushing diversity might raise the sport’s profile a bit at least until something fresh comes along and relegates them to history.
I say L39ION is the most interesting and important American cycling team ever. Why? Because they are focused on changing the sport to be more inclusive, more popular and to legitimize crit racing.
Besides not being diverse, pro cycling is far too Euro centric. It seems to be the dream of every American cyclist to go compete in Europe. It’s seen as the only way to really make it. Well that mentality drains all the talent from the US. And it puts up a huge barrier for anyone without the resources or desire to move there.
L39GION is focused on racing in America. We don’t have many road races here, we have crits. So for American racing to be taken seriously, crits need to be taken seriously. So they want to keep the talent here and the focus here on the crit scene.
L39GION also recognizes that the sport needs to attract the attention of people that aren’t already dedicated cyclists. Go follow Justin Williams on Instagram and you’ll see plenty of posts about (non-cycling) shoes or clothes. Here’s done a video with pro skateboarder Eric Koston. He’s a Red Bull rider, which is a sponsorship very few road racers get. They are appealing to a large demographic.
L39GION is starting to change the narrative and I love it.
Spoken like a true insider. Nobody ever changed the system by doing things the same way everyone else in the system has.
With them going pro, no more amateur Crit national champs? Do you think they’ll go after the pro national champs this year then?
Actually they have two teams. Pro and not. So they can take both. Justin is not going pro, so he can wear the amateur National Champs jersey and continue to represent there.
Wait really? Why? Creates a pro team, but he stays amateur. Please tell me he’s not staying amateur just so he can keep competing in the amateur national championships.
Edit: Wow, that is the reason.
"I’m the elite national champion. It doesn’t make sense for me to move up to the pro category and not be able to wear my jersey. Because if I signed a pro contract, I can no longer wear the jersey. "
Sorry, I love what Legion is doing for the sport, especially here in the US. But this is kind of weak in my opinion. His reasoning for not going pro is so that he can keep winning an amateur championship? Oof.
Can I ask what does the 39 in “L39ION” refer to?
It seems like the odd spelling of the team name might be a marketing and search nightmare. Do they have an official team web site. I honestly searched and can’t find it.
I don’t think that is the reason. I just listened to their podcast and the reason seems to be that he doesn’t have the time to be a pro athlete with legs up on the couch all day after a ride and do the monumental work of running this organization that he is creating at the same time. Being towards the end of this career, this seems like a logical choice.
If I remember correctly, it’s the street the Williams brothers grew up on. Justin talked about it on the podcast how it fit perfectly with the design of the logo. Pretty sick to have that reference in the team. A little personal touch to the history of the team.
Ah, just from reading the SRAM article/interview, it sounded like he just wanted to keep the jersey.
“wearing the jersey is more important to me than having the title of pro.”
It just seemed like an odd reason. He’s dominating the crit scene and it made it seem like he didn’t want to take the step up because he wouldn’t be winning it anymore. So he’d rather just keep dominating the amateur field.
No, that isn’t what he said…he said -
He is talking about wearing the jersey he earned, not winning “more” championships”. I completely understand that mentality and don’t really have a problem with it.
And as noted, he has other responsibilities running the team, etc.
It’s partly that they are trying to break the mold and appeal to the broader sports fan base. In most sports, athletes have a consistent number. It’s pretty dumb that in pro cycling there’s no names in jerseys and everyone’s number constantly changes. Even the announcers sometimes struggle to identify riders.
If you check out their pictures in off the bike team apparel, they have their names and a number on them, just like a typical team sport jersey.
I mean, I get it if he’s not planning on competing this year in the amateur national champs. But with his form, it would be hard to see anybody that can challenge him, especially since his brothers are going pro. Which then makes it seem like he just wants to keep winning the jersey.
Edit: And like I said in response to the other post, running the team and company makes sense. He’s doing a lot of work for the team and cycling in America. The SRAM interview just made it sound the other way.
I think you’re focusing on the less important of the reasons given.
Justin: Yes. It doesn’t make sense for me to be on the Conti team. It doesn’t mean anything to me. It’s special to have a team on that level and to be a part of the journey, but for me personally, it’s not my ambition to be a pro rider. That’s a spot that somebody else could take when that’s still their dream. That’s the first part of it. The second part of it is: I’m the elite national champion. It doesn’t make sense for me to move up to the pro category and not be able to wear my jersey. Because if I signed a pro contract, I can no longer wear the jersey. The title just isn’t what drives me anymore. What drives me is making the sport better and making the sport more diverse, making people feel more welcome in the sport, doing really cool shit that people can aspire to and look up to.
He is the one running the whole team behind the scenes. He can’t be a pro level rider and do the contracts, sponsorship stuff, outreach, etc etc at the same time. So he’s not going to take up a spot doing that. He’s going to stay elite and still race since that will give them even more exposure, having success on multiple fronts.
What does UCI have to do with what riders individual teams pick? I see cyclists on those teams coming from parts of the world where cycling is prevalent, lots are non-European. There’s also a reason that majority of Hockey players look the way they do, because hockey and ice skating aren’t very prevalent in warmer places around the world.
He never said anything like that…he said he wants to wear the jersey that he earned. If he turned pro, he could no longer wear that jersey.
That is your interpretation of his comments and one that has no support in statements he made.
If I won a national champs jersey (haha…right), I’d absolutely want to wear while I am able to. And it isn’t like he has to weigh the risks of not taking a pro offer…he owns his own team and can turn pro whenever he wants (if he even wants to).
I get that. I would, too. Who wouldn’t?
I guess what I’m saying, or asking, is whether he is still going to race the amateur national champs. That’s it.