What is L39ION doing?

With the US crit scene mopped up, what is the future for this squad with their recent signings? Continue to race crits (yawn) or branch out in to some international UCI level pro-conti stage races (yes, please)?

IMO the answer is to go global and further push the excitement for a dominant US-based team on a larger scale. Of course this would be a much costlier endeavor than traveling and racing nationally, but it could be just what US cycling needs.

Rally fails to build any hype around their team, even when they have the national road champ, but I think L39ION has more potential to transform (a very optimistic use of that word) cycling in the US.

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They dominate crit scene. Would they hold their own at UCI?

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Why wouldn’t they? I didn’t suggest they attempt for an entry into the Tour de France, but certainly they have a squad worthy of some smaller UCI stage races alongside the likes of Rally and other pro-conti teams. Or more representation in these big gravel events?

IMO it would be a mistake to not pursue other avenues of pro-cycling.

Well looking at US cyclocross, our US guys dominate that but get crushed by euros at the World Cup events. I think they are great, but they are big fish in small pond. Legion may be the same. Also, US crit success takes a different rider than most international UCI road events


I would say not, unless they fundamentally rethink their team. The demands for doing well at a domestic crit is very different from a stage race. If you look at L39ION tactics, there is no way they could execute these say tactics to win / place well / win a stage at a stage race.

I’m not arguing that they couldn’t eventually morph / expand, just that they aren’t currently setup for international stage races, even more minor.


Sure they are, they have a lot of talent, and we haven’t ever seen them put together a squad for a stage race save for Joe Martin with Tyler Williams winning the overall GC (Gage Hecht second).

All I’m saying is that at some point, your domination of criterium racing in the United States is only going to take you and they squad so far before other avenues need to be considered. Or not, they just race crits and that’s it. Perhaps starting their own series.

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Why exactly is racing small UCI road races less :yawning_face: than racing crits?


I’d believe they want to keep it crit focused. Yes they are dominant there, I think they want to continue to bring that format more recognition and try and sell that style of racing to more people. And focus on quality. And I do think other teams will continue to catch on and progress.

As dominant as they are, they know there can be much more gained in regards to marketing that style of racing and just continue to sell and expand it.

Speeds ( lap times ) are still getting faster. More to come.


I think their future is to grow something new on home grounds, which is exactly what I see them doing.

Doesn’t make sense for them to go international ; they have captured the attention of the US. It would be a missed opportunity for them to copy or conform to what has already been done.

This is not a time to run to “greener” pastures, but to water the grass you stand on.


Justin Williams has specifically said that they have no interest in racing in Europe and that their goal is to grow an US-style of racing that is appealing and accessible to more people.


It’s a lot more fun watching a crit in person, than a road race.


I don’t think road racing is viable financially in the US. Road closures are too hard/expensive, and they are an acquired taste to watch in person. You are going to have a hard time growing the cycling audience in the US by doing road races. (I think the only exception to this might be something big with good live coverage like the Tour of CA used to have.)
Crits are cheaper to put on road closure/permit wise, likely easier to do live coverage of as well (although that wasn’t done this time.) They provide a much better spectating experience, and one that can attract new people to it. Standing on the barriers as the riders rode by a few feet away is really cool, and you get to see that dozens of times each race. Since the races are in a compact area, this makes it easier to make it a ‘festival/party’, which again attracts more people, and can help the event be a positive economic impact on the area.
I hope L39ion is successful at growing the US bike racing scene, as just trying to do what works in Europe here hasn’t been successful, and I think a change is needed.


My guess is they are dreaming of making the NFL for crits. City based teams and races for a league championship. Would be cool if it works out but it may be an uphill battle. Its taken the MLS multiple tries to establish what is currently a pretty mediocre league of a sport that is crazy popular almost everywhere else in the world. Just my opinion of course!


I thought the more long-term plan was to build up a bigger/better Crit “league” - each city has a team that you can cheer for, etc…

We’ll see if they got the reception they needed /wanted for Lions Den and if SRAM and their sponsors would go for another event with a big payout…

IIRC Long term they want to build teams for UCI and the bigger events, but we’ll see if we get to that point.

I think a crit league and more attention for cross would be amazing.

I attended my first ever crit this year in person and it was a great event. If you want an event where people can eat/patronize local businesses and keeps them there for several hours, gets people close to the action and you can hang out an enjoy the day in, crits would be great.

Random question, but could the US ever get a big road racing event like the Tour De France? What would that take? Also, what would a more gobalized cycling enviroment look like. Outside of the UCI championships, what if the tour was really global?


I’m going to get shot to pieces but here goes…

At this moment in time, L39ION are the hot name in US cycling, maybe even global cycling. I imagine that it’s a dream appointment to pull that jersey on and represent.

As someone looking in, I wonder how long people will remain ‘interested’ if there’s no sustained challenge to their dominance. If the outcome is almost a certainty, why are you going to watch? You know how they’re going to win. I’m not detracting from the skill they have, we just know how it’s going to go.

With this in mind, what do the sponsors of the other teams get? No one really wants to come second, do they? Actually, looking at recent results, second would be a victory. L39ION are now whitewashing the podium. Again, not detracting from their performances. You do have to ask what’s in ‘it’ for the other riders, who might be paying their own expenses.

From where I’m sitting, if serious competition doesn’t materialise soon, it could become too formulaic.


why do fans in other sports watch dominating teams even if its “boring”? I think they actually have the right idea if we want to grow the sport outside a bunch of other cyclists. People actually like to see winning and also like to jump on a bandwagon, and the casual fan doesn’t care about the tactics, they want to just cheer on someone and feed off the energy.


Lets say that your right regarding the fans. What about sponsorship for the other teams? Sponsors want to see some type of return. Sponsors ultimately want to be linked with winners. I have no doubt that L39ION have done wonders for Specialized and Rapha both locally and globally.

If sponsorship for other teams dwindles, that could be problematic.

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Sponsorship is about exposure, and not just winning, and they can’t all sponsor the one winning team. Plenty of NBA/NFL/MLB teams have sponsors and are at or near the bottom in terms of winning. If L39ion can elevate the whole sport to be more mainstream you increase the exposure across the board.


I often think about Legion’s dominance. It’s like Team Sky of the Early 2010’s.

Root cause is because both teams employ a “keep the train speed high” tactic that discourages attacks.

Here’s my even HOTTER take than yours: I thought the racing during the Lance era was the most exciting to watch with all the attacks. Not saying we should go back to doping, hell no. What I’m saying is Legion’s new format needs to introduce simple rules that punish the aspects of the game that make it boring.

Specifically, they need to employ a ‘shotclock’ where hogging the front to control races when the whole field is together is penalized. Very similar to what basketball did in the 1950’s.

Yes, it’d render their claim-to-fame strategy unviable. With it will come restructuring of roles within teams, and more shuffling between attacks, breaks, chasing.

Legion is promoting the city-team thing akin to basketball already. They should just borrow cues from the shotclock to make racing more hype, less predictable, and more exciting.

A secondary root-cause is that we have the early beginnings of a dynasty being established. Top players want to go to top teams so it’s harder and harder for the 2nd best team to retain talent and even compete. All the wattage FTP bazookas are going to gather in 1 team if the name of the game is “control the front, always”. The shotclock would break up these FTP riders, and give more value to constructing a balanced team of different rider types (threshold, sprinters, attackers, puncheurs) in order to employ different tactics.


Even losing teams and sponsors make money when the big names and winning team comes to town.

I remeber when my college B-Ball team was horrible, but you bet the gym was packed when Georgetown, Syncacuse, or UConn come through. Yeah we got beat but lucking out with Floor seats when AIlen Iverson was in the building was amazing.

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