We Have a Precedent
Prior to the 2013 Masters World Championships, racers were told that three racers were needed to make a category, according to 2012 Masters World Champion Ron Riley, who won in 2012 when there were not minimum field sizes. But about a week prior to the 2013 Worlds, once tickets and lodging were booked, and well after season-long training plans were created and followed, USA Cycling (the race promoter for the event) notified registered racers that the minimum field size would be increased to six racers, citing UCI rules.
At the 2013 racer’s meeting in Louisville, some racers expressed outrage with the late notice on the change and departure from how 2012 titles were awarded, and said they wouldn’t have registered or made the trip if they knew they would have to race guys 10 years their junior. According to Riley, there was not a UCI representative present at the meeting to hear their complaints, and it was out of USA Cycling’s hands.
The six rider minimum was implemented, and racers in the 75+ and 80+ age groups ended up racing against men in the 70-74 category, and as a result, not only had little chance of medaling, but had their race cut short early, as several were pulled early due to large time gaps, even without danger of getting lapped. The oldest age groups for women were also impacted, forcing 73-year-old 2012 65+ Masters World Champion Julie Lockhart to race a 55+ group, competing against Kathy Sarvary, and getting pulled after one lap.
The experience left a bitter taste in the mouths of some racers, and undoubtedly kept some of them on the sidelines for this year’s event.
One Year Later, A Swiss Repeat
In Gossau, Pfluke lined up for her race, ready to battle three others for a World Championship medal. At the start, she eyed her competitors, and wondering if this would be her year.
Once the gun went off, Pfluke chased German Berit Strobl and distanced her two other competitors. After Strobl created an insurmountable gap, Pfluke raced conservatively to maintain her silver medal.
Only after crossing the line, Pfluke found out that her age group didn’t exist, and she was being scored with the 50-54 racers.
“Apparently, while we were at the start line, the announcement was made in Swiss German over the PA system, 500 meters away—that none of us heard—that the age groups were to be combined,” Pfluke explained.
No silver medal. Fourth, behind American winner Lori Cooke, Strobl, and Brems. Thanks for coming.