Swell of young pro cyclists promising to elevate American cycling on the international stage

BRECKENRIDGE — Atop the brutally steep Moonstone Road after four laps, 21-year-old Sara Poidevin leaned into her handlebars and attacked. It was a bold move for the young Canadian, who hammered her final lap at the Colorado Classic with such vigor, she finished more than two minutes ahead of the next rider.

An hour later on Friday, 23-year-old TJ Eisenhart dropped the hammer early and led a star-studded peloton for the entire race, crushing the steepest course in American racing this season to notch one of the biggest days of his career with a down-to-the-finish-line sprint after 64 miles of racing.

At the Colorado Classic, a thick-thighed swarm of young athletes like Eisenhart and Poidevin are promising a bright new era for professional cycling. Especially in the U.S., where a swell of young riders could elevate U.S. cycling in an international sport that has long lacked a strong American presence.

“I think we have the strongest crop of young up-and-coming dudes in the last decade, for sure,” said the Roaring Fork Valley’s Keegan Swirlbul, a 21-year-old, four-year pro with the Jelly Belly P/B Maxxis team.

Swirlbul exploded on the cycling scene in 2012 when, as a gangling teenager, he beat Lance Armstrong in Aspen’s Power of Four mountain bike race, prodding one magazine to proclaim him “the next Armstrong.” Now, after two years of debilitating over-use injuries in his knees, Swirlbul is poised to elevate American cycling on the international stage.

“We have a lot of different types of riders coming up, whereas in the past we have had mostly just climbers,” said Swirlbul, who still wears a fading yellow Livestrong bracelet. “In the next five, six years, I think we will have American guys doing well on the World Tour and classics and the Grand Tours.”

The under-23 athletes with the Axeon Hagens Berman team …read more

Source:: The Denver Post

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