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Bahati paving the way

Bahati fully concentrates during the race

Bahati fully concentrates during the race (Image credit: Mark Zalewski)

By Phil Sheehan

"No-one likes us, we don't care." For anyone who's not au fait with London soccer clubs, that's the unofficial creed of Millwall FC, a lower league team that punches above its weight in terms of the headlines it's grabbed over the years – mostly negative. That motto could just as well apply to cycling's own Rock Racing. The US-based Continental outfit certainly provoked plenty of column inches, most of them outraged, when its participation in the 2008 Tour of Britain was announced.

Whatever you make of owner Michael Ball's employment of Tyler Hamilton, Oscar Sevilla and Santiago Botero, you can't deny the fact that his team gets noticed. One thing that stood out about the Rock line-up at this year's Tour of Britain, though, was that it included the event's first black rider, Rahsaan Bahati. Some are struck by the lack of racial diversity in the pro peloton. Of course, many know about Marhsall 'Major' Taylor's story over a hundred years ago, but it seems like things haven't moved on a great deal since then.

Taylor, for those unfamiliar with his exploits, was the fastest man on two wheels at the turn of the last century. Dominant on the track, he broke seven world records in one year alone. 1899 may have been a fine year for records in the velodrome, but it wasn't for racial harmony. Despite his ability to draw huge crowds and the invitations he received to race as far afield as Europe and Australia, Taylor was the victim of terrible prejudice and dirty tricks, sometimes even physical violence, from his white peers on the track.

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