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Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion

USA Cycling Launches New Track Talent ID Program Focusing on Los Angeles Communities

By: Angelina Palermo  January 26, 2023

With support from the Rapha Foundation, LOOK Cycle, and Wattbike, the Search for Speed will be looking for untapped talent in LA County with an eye toward Los Angeles 2028.

On Friday, USA Cycling officially launched Search for Speed in downtown Santa Monica. Both industry guests and the general public were offered an inside look into how the program will work and to even put their skills to the test.

Search for Speed is a new talent identification program designed to introduce track cycling to diverse and underrepresented communities in Los Angeles, providing youth and young adults with a dedicated pathway to the U.S. National Team. Funded by a generous grant from the Rapha Foundation and support from LOOK Cycle and Wattbike, Search for Speed utilizes a multi-stage screening process to identify key talent markers and introduce participants to track cycling.

“Our goal with Search for Speed is to go into the local LA communities and introduce them to the wonders of track cycling, in particular sprint track cycling,” said USA Cycling CEO Brendan Quirk. “We’re looking for kids who are exceptional athletes in more traditional sports, like football, basketball, soccer, and get them exposed to bike racing. We have an incredible facility at the VELO Sports Center Velodrome and we want to see that next generation of kids racing on the track and potentially at the Olympic Games.”

Friday’s kickoff event at the Rapha Clubhouse in Santa Monica introduced the program to the Los Angeles cycling community and offered a look at the first stage in the screening process.

In this initial tryout phase, participants have two minutes to warm up on the Wattbike before giving it their all in a six-second peak power test. Upon completing the test, they’re presented with a report card comparing their results to members of the USA Cycling National Team, access to a digital leaderboard, and resources to continue cycling in the Los Angeles area.

Over a dozen tryouts with the six-second peak power test will take place over the course of the next few months, giving youth and young adults the opportunity to test their athletic abilities and see if they have what it takes to become a world-class track sprinter.

“The Search for Speed project is at the heart of our partnership with USA Cycling, and finding new athletes and improving their performance is in Wattbike's DNA,“ said Richard Baker, CEO of Wattbike. “It's a privilege to be part of this search and to have Wattbikes being used to uncover new champions. We can't wait to see what talent is out there."

Top performers from the tryouts will be invited back to additional rounds of testing where they will have the opportunity to meet performance benchmarks and qualify for talent integration camps at the VELO Sports Center. At this stage, participants will be introduced to the fundamentals of track sprinting and learn to ride on a new series of bikes provided by LOOK Cycle.

“As official partners of USA Cycling, it is a privilege to be able to share our values of courage, passion, and excellence with the young generation of athletes USA Cycling is going to bring onboard with this project,” said Federico Musi, CEO of LOOK Cycle. “We are excited to be part of this effort to bring cycling to diverse and underrepresented communities, giving unprecedented opportunities for young talents to become the champion of tomorrow, and maybe an Olympic medalist.”

While the tryout process is just getting started, the program’s goals extend to 2028 and beyond. USA Cycling hopes to have 700+ participants in local tryouts during the 2023 season, a new field of talent ready for training in 2024, and program graduates on the National team in the seasons leading up to the 2028 Olympic Games in Los Angeles.

Funding for the Search for Speed Program came from a 2022 grant from the Rapha Foundation. The Rapha Foundation was founded in 2019 with the mission of building a better future for cycling, funding more than 20 organizations around the world committed to inspiring, empowering, and supporting the next generation of riders and racers from demographics that have been historically under-represented in the sport.

With the launch of Search for Speed, USA Cycling is bringing an end-to-end talent identification and development pipeline to underrepresented communities in Los Angeles with hopes of creating a lasting legacy of participation success that is an accurate reflection of the country’s population.