After announcing a formal partnership between USA Cycling and VMG Racing in September, the national governing body, on November 20, named former cyclist Chann McRae as team director for VMG Racing. The former rider who lists Mapei, the US Postal Service and the Mercury as his former employers, will direct the next generation of young cyclists as they pursue their elite-level aspirations.
McRae, 35, is a native of Austin, Texas and has represented the United States in 11 world championships including the 1999 edition in Verona, Italy where he placed fifth. The former Tour de France veteran and IronMan Triathlon competitor will assume the traditional duties of team director for VMG Racing immediately.
"It's an awesome opportunity to work with a group of younger riders that all share the same goals that I had when I was at that stage of my career," said McRae. "I'm still young myself, so I can relate to all the riders in the program."
As previously announced, USA Cycling's Belgian-based national development team and VMG Racing will work together to compliment each other to collectively identify, develop and produce future world-class athletes. In the United States, U23 athletes identified by USA Cycling will ride for VMG Racing in a mix of National Racing Calendar and Central and South American UCI-sanctioned events. In Europe, USA Cycling will maintain its focus on the national development team as top performers from the VMG program will be made available to USA Cycling for UCI U23 World Cup events and additional European-based events.
"The key to future success at the elite level depends heavily upon the involvement of former world-class athletes that are intimately familiar with the training, commitment and knowledge necessary to excel at the sport's highest level," commented Jim Miller, director of endurance programs for USA Cycling. "Chann's résumé as a professional cyclist speaks for itself and his experience in the international peloton will now be an important element in building the future of our sport."
The addition of McRae to the VMG Racing program is a central component to the overall development efforts of USA Cycling. Since the national development team's inception in 1999, several graduates of the program have gone on to compete for UCI ProTour-level teams including David Zabriskie, one of only five Americans to wear the yellow jersey in the Tour de France and the only American to win a stage in the Tour, the Giro d'Italia and the Vuelta a España, as well as Saul Raisin, Tyler Farrar, Patrick McCarty, Michael Creed and Aaron Olson.
VMG Racing will make its 2007 debut at the Tour of the Bahamas in February. A complete roster and race schedule is expected to be announced in the coming weeks.