Ciclismo-Internacional opened a new section (U23 and junior report) in which the aim is to shed light on the evolution of some of the world’s most talented up-and-coming youngsters. We will try to in light our readers about the future stars of the sport, where their come from, their dreams, strengths or weaknesses on the bike etc.
1/ At what age did you start with cycling?
I’ve been riding bikes and watching the Tour on TV for as long as I can remember! I think I memorized the names of the majority of the 200-rider peloton by the time I was eight years old, and would re-enact my own mini Tours de France around the local roads and trails afterwards. I played soccer pretty competitively too, started racing when I was about twelve, and gave up soccer completely a couple years later.
2/ Did you have an idol back then?
Although I hate to say it, like a lot of kids in my generation, I idolized Lance Armstrong. Watching him on TV as he crushed his opponents and seemed to never lose was hugely inspiring for me, and definitely further increased my massive love for the sport. Today, even though we now know of the illegal and corrupt things he did during his career and are quick to label him as a disgrace to the sport, he did, to some very real extent, bring a huge amount of awareness and interest of cycling to America, which has now obviously transformed into the new wave of clean American cyclists we see being successful today.
3/You are a Californian native correct?
Yes. I’m from Los Altos, California, in the infamous Silicon Valley. It’s a great place, with amazing weather, some of the best roads I’ve ever ridden to train on daily, and pretty much anything you could imagine is nearby. During the winter, I am living in Santa Cruz, where I go to school, and absolutely love the combination of the ocean and the mountains, which makes it a super cool town to live in.
4/ And when racing in Europe, you live in The Netherlands right? You guys (Team US) seem like a pretty tight-knit group? It seems like you all get along very well.
Yes, the USA Cycling base is in Sittard, in the Netherlands, where we are very well equipped. From that very central location, we have extremely easy access to races throughout Europe in every direction. Usually the guys that get chosen for a particular block of racing already know each other, are teammates, or at least have raced against each other, so the team and brotherhood aspect comes quickly and naturally, followed quickly by the nonstop laughing, joking, and shenanigans. We do get along very well, and try to enjoy ourselves as much as possible as we travel throughout Europe together. It’s fun because after a couple of seasons of racing together in Europe, you really become good friends with these other guys, and when you come back to the US again, it does feel really weird to race against these guys when you’re so used to being on the same team.
5/ Myself, I always used to label you predominantly as a climber. I mean I knew you could time trial well; I just invariably thought Adrien Costa what a talented grimpeur. So what are you. A climber who can TT or a time trialist who can climb? What’s your naturally element?
I definitely still like to think of myself as I climber, since that’s what I enjoy the most and am the most passionate about. The most memorable moments in cycling’s history have happened on mountain passes, and there is something truly unique about the feeling of climbing a mountain that I don’t think I’ll ever lose. However, I suppose this season has showed that I am decent at time triailing as well. It’s an amazingly elegant and scientific, yet very solitary and almost spiritual exercise that I am starting to like very much as well.
6/How has your off-season been so far? Have you been up to any activities/traveling? How is your state compared to last year? Are you in shape?
My off-season has been going pretty well. I went straight to my first day of college the morning after flying back from Spain and Worlds, but thankfully had a couple weeks with next to no riding that allowed me to really chill out and just live like a normal person for a bit. I’ve been doing some good mountain bike rides and hiking which have kept me in decent shape as I slowly ramp up my training again. If anything I may be taking a slightly slower start than last season, which is all for the better to keep me fresher mentally and physically for the main objectives of the upcoming season.
7/I read you will be at the start-line at the San Bruno Hill Climb again this year. You won this event twice already, Is it a special race to you? — In 2014 you rode the course in 14.39 and in 2013 you rode it in 14.49 ! Do you have a goal set for 2015?
Yes, it’s always fun to start the year off with that hill climb that’s become a sort of personal tradition! I’m hoping to be in good enough shape to aim for the course record held by local pro Nate English… I think it’s 14:20.
8/Your coach/mentor (Former 2 time medal winner at the 1984 Summer Olympics in LA) Harvey Nitz, has compered you in many ways to Greg Lemond (Which must be flattering). Anyway, with your climbing/TT skills in mind is stage-racing an obvious match for you?
It’s definitely pretty cool to have Harvey as a coach with his huge depth of knowledge, partly acquired from when he was training with Greg Lemond at the peak of his career. Apparently we are similar in our strengths, and I definitely think stage racing is my ideal discipline, so I certainly hope to one day have results close to what Greg was able to accomplish!
9/Let’s talk a little about your time-trailing. You are a very slim guy (around 61 kg) what make you able to produce all that power on the flat as well?
I think time trailing just plays really well into my strengths, since I’m able to stay focused for a long period of time, enjoy the effort, and most importantly, long steady efforts, both on the flat and on the climbs, are what I think I am best at.
10/What kind of things do you need to improve in the coming years? Maybe you have some certain aspects you really need to focus on.
There’s no doubt that I need to continue to work on my weaknesses but really hone my strengths as well, as I hope one day to grow into a overall classification/ stage race rider which obviously requires a huge amount of preparation in terms of endurance, intensity, climbing, time trialing, recovery… which makes it all the more special and unique of a discipline.
11/Next year (2015) will be your second in the junior category. What are your ambitions and goals for the coming year? Do you have any specific targets?
This upcoming season, the World Championships time trial is undoubtedly the biggest goal I have ever had in my career thus far, and with it being on home soil, it gives me that extra motivation to be at my very best for that event. That aside, I would really like to have a good spring block of racing in Europe with the National Team and hopefully do well in some Nations Cup races like the Peace Race, Pays de Vaud, and Karlsberg, along with the Tour de l’Abitibi later in the summer. I also hope that continuing to get a solid amount of race days in Europe will further ease the transition to the U23 ranks the following year, which will no doubt be a huge step up in terms of competition, training, and racing.
12/ I read you used to go to France on vacations as a kid, seeing Tour de France from the roadside. Do you have any special memories from one of those trips? Have you ever tried riding up some of the famous cols?
Yeah, I’ve been lucky enough to see the Tour in person several times, and when you see it, it’s always more magical than you remembered it being the previous time. What I found even more special though was getting to ride the same infamous roads that you usually only get to dream about on TV. One of the coolest places I got to ride my bike was the Pyrenees, a few years ago. I stayed there with my family for 10 days or so, and I remember getting frustrated at my mom for not letting me ride 7 hours every day! One of the best memories I have ever had on a bike was from the last day of that trip, when I rode over 5 massive climbs… Superbagneres, Port de Bales, Col de Peyresourde, Col d’Azet-Val Louron, and finishing on the Pla d’Adet. It was like a dream, and was hard to accept the fact that it was getting dark out, that I had to get home, and that these were the last few pedal strokes I was taking in such a special place. Getting to ride my bike in places like these are what I dream about all year long, and can only hope to one day make a living riding and racing up these absolutely spectacular roads.
13/ Finally your part of Cal Giant Cycling Team in 2015. Can you tell me a little about the team and its structure?
I’m super excited to be joining Cal Giant in 2015. As one of the top elite-level teams in the US, it’ll be a great environment for me to continue to develop alongside these talented riders and get a good race program domestically while still working coherently with the national team. It’s also an extremely well supported team with Specialized, Cal Giant Berries itself, and the many other sponsors like Zipp and Sram that keep us on the best stuff out there. I already know a lot of the guys on the team, as most of them are from NorCal like myself, so that will only further contribute to creating a very fun and cohesive group. Although our first formal training camp isn’t until the spring, I’m sure I’ll be able to get together a few times with most of the guys who live locally this winter.
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