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LA World Cup Classic... Continued

Track cycling is truly an urban event—almost all of the finest tracks around the world are located in dense urban environments, as are most of the smaller ones as well. If you are lucky enough to live in the vicinity of a velodrome it may be worth your while to go a catch a little racing or get your own time on the track. If you live in Sydney Australia, Beijing China, Copenhagen Denmark or Los Angeles USA amongst a few others, you have a chance to see some of the finest in the world during the UCI Track World Cup. This is a look at the 3rd round of the 2007-2008 UCI Track World Cup, held in Los Angeles, California.
–Jason Montano

LAX smells like jet fuel, car tires and pigeon shit. The airport’s the backside of any city, I guess. The worst part about air travel is the fact that there is an airport on either side of the journey, the best that there’s Scotch at the bar. Walking the shoeless eighth mile of shame, eating plastic food and reading pharmaceutical ads just doesn’t do it for me anymore. Fearing a low moment, I think positive—the world class cycling I’m about to witness, the announcer’s corny jokes and the final lap bell clapping hard. My heart beats just thinking about it. I’m a track fan. I love the sport in its entirety and at the level I’m about to witness, it will be mind altering.

Everyone was saying that this would be a big event—the fans, the press, even the teams themselves—yet I was still taken aback by the strong athlete attendance. The infield was overrun with activities. Athletes warming up on rollers, coaches meeting with teams, officials checking the timing machines. A real garden of activity with every exotic type of flower imaginable. The great big camps of the Netherlands, the Belgians, the French, Chinese, Germans and Australians; the small trenches of countries like Venezuela, Cuba, Jamaica, and Belarus, all buzzing and alive. With the Beijing Olympics around the corner, some athletes will be reaching out for a first piece of the Olympic pie, others just enjoying another slice. It was obvious to me that this would be a show, a real big top and a treat to explore.

O’neil rides for Jamaica. He says he likes to do road racing the best but he’s built like a solid scratch racer and excels at medium length endurance events. Like many track racers, he is a true personality. Jamaica fielded three athletes in the event; Iona Wynters, O’neil Samuels and Ricardo Lynch. Though their jerseys say Jamaica, the athletes come from all over the world and with varied backgrounds. Iona lives and races in Seattle, Ricardo lives and trains in Switzerland in a special sprinting program and O’neil flew in from Jamaica the previous night. When you get this close you get to see the people as individuals and not just countries racing under a flag. Winning and losing becomes a personal thing with individual personalities shining through.