By Les Clarke
VMG Racing isn't the biggest name in US cycling, but its role in supporting emerging athletes may be one of the most important, with cyclists and triathletes receiving sponsorship from the company. Established in 2004 by Mark Holowesko, VMG and Aerospace Engineering sponsored a team that participated in NRC races this season - but Holowesko's company has started something new behind the scenes to develop some of the best talent from America and the Bahamas.
Based in the Bahamas, VMG provides athletes with a headstart in their careers through training and financial support; until recently there were athletes from a variety of backgrounds receiving VMG's support - but maintaining a high level of control over operations was proving difficult. Scott Hirshorn, one of the team at VMG and an equities trader at ABN AMRO says that "We had all these athletes in different areas, but there wasn't enough control, so we decided to simplify things a bit." VMG had co-operated with Aerospace Engineering during 2005, but when that particular relationship ended VMG looked to the Under 23 ranks and saw a need for development in the area.
"There are plenty of riders with the ability, but not the resources," said Hirshorn. And so the company decided they wanted to help develop these riders through the establishment of an U23 team, much in the image of TIAA-CREF, former pro rider Jonathon Vaughters' squad, which has enjoyed excellent results in 2005 throughout the US and Europe. "We spoke to Jon Vaughters and Tiger Williams, along with Steve McCauley and Justin Rogers from USA Cycling, and they've helped us a lot with their ideas and experiences," said Hirshorn.
VMG decided they'd have three sections to their team, led by the 'flagship' U23 development programme, which has recently applied for a UCI Continental team licence, consisting of riders aged between 18-23 years old, with a couple of 'mentor' riders in the 23-26 age group. The top two riders from the Bahamas will ride with the team to help develop the sport in that region. "Lee Farmer and Jonathon Massie will be the riders from Bahamas, and we have a lot of riders picked already," Hirshorn said. VMG have also handpicked their DS, with Dan Larson filling that role; Larson comes from a strong cycling background, having worked on the cycling programme at the University of Florida as well as being an accomplished rider and partner of Rebecca Larson, who rides for the Colavita-Cooking Light squad.
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