While it seems that every year there is the pessimistic wave during the transfer season of job losses in cycling and there just aren’t enough spots for pro-caliber riders, there are always a few bright spots. This year, the American development scene is getting some good news with the creating of Aevolo Development along with CCB moving up from the continental level. While more teams is usually always better, it certainly helps that other young riders are getting a good home and trying to topple the Axeon Hagens Berman leviathan.
This first post will be dedicated to Aevolo’s new team.
Aevolo hasn’t really divulged where the money is actually coming from as there are no obvious companies with the Aevolo name but it does see Mike Creed return to the professional ranks, after a bitter end with Smartstop at the end of the 2015 season. After a successful stint with the US Paralympic cycling team, Creed will now be running a U23 development team that is set for a full NRC calendar with hopes of getting berths for the Tour of Utah along with the new Tour of Colorado and Tour of the Commonwealth (Virginia) with an unconfirmed roster of 9 riders so far though in interviews, Creed has said he will have a roster of 10 riders.
A roster flashed briefly on the team’s Facebook page but has since been taken down so while unconfirmed, there were nine names that showed up with riders coming from the USA, Canada and Mexico. According to VeloNews, the riders will have to be in either university or graduate school.
Unconfirmed for next year include Jack Burke, Laurent Gervais, Lance Haidet, Gage Hecht, Michael Hernandez, Zeke Mostov, Jason Saltzman, Tyler Stites, and Luis Villalobos.
Before last year, Canadian Jack Burke might be better known to some for his positive doping test at the 2013 Tour de l’Abitibi after winning the stage 3 time trial. After a lengthy process, Burke was cleared of any wrong doing after the trace amounts of a diuretic named HCTZ was deemed to be ingested from the local town of Malartic’s water source, where Burke has filled his water bottles after running late that morning. Read this much more in-depth article on the situation from The Star. The most interesting bit from that article might be this description of his daily routine at the time, which was taken from Jack’s university video that was presented during the defense.
“Get up at 4 a.m. Down eight raw eggs. Ride from his north Toronto home down to the lake and back for a “short” 75 km ride. Go to high school. Sandwich in an hour-long ride. Go to work at Sporting Life to pay for the bike. Ice bath. Bed. And repeat.”
Sounds like Creed’s type of rider. Since this episode, Burke had quieter results until this past year with H&R Block where his time trial skills finally came through and propelled him to strong overall results including top 15 places in the Redlands Classic, Joe Martin Stage Race and Tour of Alberta. With Creed’s history with time trials and as a GC rider, Burke could be one to excel in this program.
On the other hand. Laurent Gervais is a bit of an unknown commodity. Originally from Quebec, Gervais rode for the Miller School in Virginia as well. He doesn’t have a ton of results to go off of so fingers crossed.
Both Lance Haidet and Gage Hecht are more known for their results on the dirt than the road but both have upside, especially with Hecht’s big results from the junior ranks.
Haidet hangs around the top 20 in Elite Men’s cyclocross races while he is a podium threat in the U23 races. On the road, his results are a lot less sparse however he did well on some stages at Cascade Classic including a top 10. So while he is no GC threat, he could be a one day or stage threat.
Hecht is a small animal on a bike with what seems to be boundless energy. On the ‘cross bike, he is one of the most promising talents for the USA after challenging for World Cup podiums as a junior along with bagging 5 junior cyclocross championships including last year’s junior title in Asheville. As a first year U23, Hecht is already a top 10 finisher on the American CX circuit but he is more than that. Hecht is also the reigning Junior Men’s RR champion after pulling away in the final stages with World Junior TT Champion Brandon McNulty while he was also 3rd in the National TT. Hecht is also the Junior Point Race Champion on the track. As long as he isn’t thrown into the deep end, Hecht could turn heads in a massive way next year in some bigger races on the road as his jack of all trades style gives him options.
After a year with CCB, Michael Hernandez takes his sprint talents to Aevolo. He lacked a bit of endurance with the step up from the junior ranks this past year but did get a few good results after venturing over to Belgium with the Kingsnorth Wheelers (think Jack Bauer) with a few top 10 finishes in some kermesses. Hernandez will probably find success in criteriums however Creed would like to see him get up in the bunch kicks in some of the team’s stage races.
Three years ago, Zeke Mostov won the bronze medal in the World Junior TT behind the late Igor DeCraene. Then with the arrival of Adrien Costa, Mostov went to the background slightly even though he followed up his bronze in 2013 with a 5th place in the 2014 World Junior TT. Mostov even went 2nd overall in the Tour de l’Abitibi as a junior but once he hit the U23 ranks, Mostov went quiet. Riding for both Cal Giant and then BMC Development over the past two years, Mostov has not put up a large amount of racing days so if he gets a steady schedule with Aevolo and the U23 National Team, it will be interesting to see how he handles it.
Its all about the watts these days and Jason Saltzman seems to a diamond in the rough. Saltzman only weighs 115 pounds but with a power to weight ratio that is over 6 w/kg in 20 minutes, he packs a punch. (figures courtesy of Saltzman now has to deal with the issue that many smaller riders deal with with: pack skills, not wasting too much energy before the climbs, getting blown around like a trash bag in the wind during a time trial. Being led along by ex-pro Scott Moninger, who was himself another lithe rider, Saltzman can crush a hillclimb but will need to use this year to try and round himself as a rider to continue to trend upwards. It’ll be interesting to see in any case.
The other two, Tyler Stites and Luis Villalobos, are both coming out of the junior ranks.
Stites is a good all-around rider with a Tour de l’Abitibi stage win to his name and has been to Europe a handful of times with pretty good results. He hasn’t raced much with Elite men so this upcoming season could be a bit of an adjustment but judging by his Strava, Stites has a huge base to work off of.
Villalobos is currently the only Mexican rider on the squad however he rode for the LUX Development team while in Europe, the same team that included World Champion Brandon McNulty and is run by former pro Roy Knickman. Villalobos had a great season in Europe as he was top 10 in three separate stage races including a stage win in the St. Martinusprijs Juniors as well as winning the Mexican & PanAm Junior Time Trial. Villalobos might be one of the most ready talents on the team as he was 3rd in the Cat 1/2 Tour of the Gila this year, a race known for its climbing and one of the races that is close to Creed’s heart, as well as riding with the pros in some American races that will be on the team calendar including Redlands and San Dimas.
It will be interesting to see how the team does as a foil to Axeon Hagens Berman even though they most likely won’t race them much outside of Nationals but to get another strong development team will be nothing but a positive for the American scene. Once the roster is actually confirmed, an update will be issued.
Next up will be a run down of CCB, the long time Northeast club team that is now a budget pro team that will be hoping to make a splash on the market with their new model.