Cycling

Meet the Miami Nights, a new team competing in the burgeoning National Cycling League

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When the inaugural race of the National Cycling League gets underway next month, the Miami Nights will be hoping for a home field — or at the track, to be precise — as the team cruises the streets of South Florida.

The Nights are one of two teams in the sparkling new league to have NFL stars backing them, and unlike traditional cycling teams who are named after a title sponsor that can change from year to year, the Nights and their NCL counterparts, the Denver Disruptors, will retain the same name season after season, much like an NFL or NBA team.

It’s all part of a plan to build a permanent league.

While events, race series and myriad teams have come and gone in North American cycling over the years, the NCL is looking to build something long term and to do that the league is embracing a more consistent, exciting and easy to follow format that draws fans – and she holds. Part of this equation is building teams that resonate with their local communities.

In reference to this, the back of the team’s jerseys read “Welcome to Miami” in the top 10 most spoken languages ​​in Miami. And while the team currently draws from a wide network of international riders, the goal is to one day recruit 90 percent from the community, said Reed McCalvin, NCL vice president of teams and athletes.

(Photo: Courtesy of NCL)

For its inaugural season, the Nights have compiled a roster that reflects Miami’s diversity. The team consists of 16 riders, eight men and eight women, representing nine different countries: Cuba, Venezuela, Mexico, Colombia, Chile, Austria, Latvia, Australia and the United States.

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The women

The men’s and women’s races both count equally towards team points in the NCL (Photo: Courtesy NCL).
  • Andrea Buttine – United States
  • Andrea Cyr – United States
  • Verena Eberhardt – Austria
  • Daniely Garcia – Venezuela
  • Taylor Kuyk-White – United States
  • Paola Muñoz – Chile
  • Brittany Parffrey – United States
  • Jeydy Praderas – Cuba

The men

  • Evan Bausbacher – United States
  • Jonathan Clarke – Australia
  • Andžs Flaksis – Latvia
  • Bryan Gomez – Colombia
  • Clever Martinez – Venezuela
  • Gabe Mendez – United States
  • Alfredo Rodriguez Victoria – Mexico
  • Frank Travieso – Cuba

Among the 16 are fresh faces and veteran drivers who are excited to help build a new league in their final seasons. The squad has a wealth of experience including competing in the Olympics and road and track racing at the highest level.

Venezuelan Daniely Garcia brings decades of experience to the team, including two Olympic team selections. Chilean Paola Muñoz joins her, bringing Olympic experience as well as a Pan American Road Championship and road races in Europe.

Jeydy Praderas brings more European road experience having ridden for Astana and also being part of the Cuban national team.

Cuban Frank Travieso is no stranger to Miami, having moved there in 1998. He has won the USA Crit Series in the past, making him a valuable asset in leading the team this year. And Clever Martinez was a top threat in the American Criterium Cup last season and is sure to bring plenty of firepower in the NCL’s consistent sprint format. Bryan Gomez leads the team’s maximum recorded power at 1,675 watts, making him an important rider in this format where points are scored every lap.

Still, in their mid-twenties, Evan Bausbacher and Alfredo Rodriguez Victoria are a younger element of the team, hungry for results and helping the team win.

Ready for the NCL and more

As one of the first two teams as part of the NCL, the Miami Nights will race the entire NCL calendar with four races starting with the Miami race on April 8th, followed by the Atlanta race on May 14th, Denver on August 13th and Washington, D.C., September 17. Between the NCL calendar, the team will also contest the American Criterium Cup 10-race calendar and a few other select races including the National Road Championships and the Littleton Criterium.

The NCL race format awards points for winning every lap of the criteria length race, not just the last lap. The men and women race separately but collect points for the whole team, so both races are equally important and all riders really race for one team. Team cohesion is therefore paramount.

Bring the team together

The task of unifying this melting pot into a unified racing team falls to Sebastian Alexandre, an Argentinian who grew up in a family of cyclists and raced professionally before embarking on a 12-year career managing cycling teams in the US like Colavita and began United Health Care.

With drivers from nine different nations in the team, it is not necessarily a matter of course that you get along right away. On the other hand, this team represents Miami, one of the most diverse cities in the United States.

Miami Nights coach Sebastian Alexandre. (Photo: Courtesy of NCL)

“You really need everyone in this format,” Alexandre said CyclingTips. “You need that chemistry. Everyone has to think of the team. There is no chance of anyone winning 10-15 sprints. We cannot be successful without a team mentality.”

Luckily for Alexandre, he experienced a lot of team bonding when his team first met in person at team camp in Phoenix, Arizona earlier this year. It helped him solidify that he had chosen the right opportunity to return to cycling after taking a few years off the sport to be with his family.

“I really have to believe in the project,” he said, noting that he turned down other offers before accepting the NCL gig. “You see how the coach’s hands shape things when you put a team together.”

As a fan of cycling, Alexandre also looks forward to the opportunities the NCL offers aside from helping a team win.

“For someone who was born into cycling, it’s great to bring in new people from the outside,” he said.

That mindset will be critical to a brand new league rethinking everything about cycling.

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