Spotlight on Guam Cycling Federation
On December 11th, the Tour of Guam saw riders take to the island’s roads for this annual event which serves as the National Championships for competitive riders but also sees many more participating in a shorter, leisure ride.
Last year, the top three Guam finishers went on to participate at the 2016 Oceania Championships in Bendigo, Australia. One of them, Peter Lombard, also represented Guam at the Oceania Mountain Bike Championships in Queenstown, New Zealand, subsequently qualifying for the Rio Olympic Games where he was part of the country’s five-strong delegation.
Lombard was not the first cyclist from this small Pacific Ocean island to make the Olympics. And he will unlikely be the last. The Guam Cycling Federation (GCF) is making a concerted effort to grow the sport among the 175,000 inhabitants of the US territory which is just 48km long and 19km wide. Guam boasts a steadily growing number of registered cyclists, three clubs and a bicycle advocacy group that runs a continuing “Share the Road” campaign.
“Moving forward, we are putting more focus on youth and women,” explains GCF President Eric Tydingco. “We have identified two riders to take part in the Oceania region’s Women in Cycling initiative. The last two years have seen the creation of the Guam Women’s Cycling Group which now has more than 130 members. We have engaged this club to become more active in our events, and we’ve also reached out to Cycling Australia and Cycling New Zealand to keep us in the loop for any cycling development training programmes that we can send some of our promising athletes to.”
When it comes to women’s cycling, the island has an excellent role model in Lenore Pipes. Member of UCI Women’s Team BePink in 2016, she registered the best ever result of a Guam cyclist at the UCI Road World Championships when she finished 55th in Richmond in 2015.
Two more goals: young riders and cycling professions
Meanwhile, motivating youngsters to take up the sport will begin by reaching out to schools, tapping into non-cycling related youth sports and organising children’s races. One such kids’ event is scheduled for 2017. Although there were no children’s events in 2016, races organised previously for children aged 4 to 11 attracted up to 60 participants.
The GCF is also looking to boost the professionalism of people working in cycling’s various professions: “We are excited that one of our locals has successfully completed a UCI Mountain Bike Commissaires programme that was offered in the Philippines,” said Eric Tydingco.
Guam became a member of the International Olympic Committee in 1986, and sent its first contingent to the Olympics in 1988 (Seoul), with four cyclists competing four years later in Barcelona, two at Sydney 2000, one in London 2012 and Peter Lombard in Rio 2016.
So far Guam’s cycling Olympians have been roadies or mountain bikers, but the GCF has the firm intention to develop another of cycling’s Olympic disciplines, BMX, in 2017.
“Our number one priority is to establish a BMX facility,” confirms the Federation President. “This will require meetings with influential government leaders to establish a public and private sector partnership in order to secure the necessary land.”