THEY might not be a household names like Lance Armstrong, but American rider Rahsaan Bahati and Justin Williams hope to make their own mark on the cycling world.
The only two African-American pro-cyclists in the US, Bahati and Williams hope to inspire more African-Americans to take up the sport.
Bahati, 26, and Williams, 19, both won major national cycling titles in the US last year.
Williams was the national under-23 criterium champion, while Bahati took out the US Cycling professional criterium championship.
"Hardly do I ever say, 'Damn, we are the only two African-American pros'," Bahati said yesterday.
"It never really crosses my mind. When we are out there competing, colour doesn't really matter.
"Maybe with this campaign, this up-coming season we can get more people of colour into the sport.
"Hopefully before I leave this sport I will have my own team, a predominantly black team.
"I would definitely like to see six or seven guys that look just like me ripping up some peloton."
Williams, who turned professional two years ago, also hoped to promote the sport to more African-Americans.
"We ride with a bunch of other African-American guys in club rides and I guess us being the only two pros they look up to us and they really want to ride with us, so that's good," Williams said.
"Everyone else is getting themselves caught up in football or basketball, so it's good when you can get as many people into it as you can."
Bahati said he was looking forward to competing against Australian stars Robbie McEwen, Stuart O'Grady, Baden Cooke and Simon Gerrans in the five-day criterium series.
"It's an excellent field and I am definitely excited to be racing the guys that are lining up," Bahati said.
"I wish I was in a little bit better shape so I could compete a little more and show what I can do.
"I have been training, but definitely with no intensity. I just found out I was coming here 10 days ago, so I tried to rush and do a couple of motor-pacing efforts."
TD Staff on 01/01/09