Opinion: Here’s to 2020 Bringing American Cycling Puncheurs Instead of Punchlines

Our favorite American cyclist is also one of our favorite cycling humorous side bets.  Tejay Van Garderen is our favorite American cyclist because he has been the most successful American in the World Tour cycling in this decade.  After Chris Horner’s flukish Vuelta victory and Talansky’s Dauphine upset, has there been any other American succeeding in the World Tour?  
Looking at the last three years, Tejay has had little American company in the World Tour:

But what Tejay has also provided is a reason to jest about him falling short. It started with his legendary attack up the double-climb of Alpe d’Huez in the 2013 Tour only to crack in the final kilometers and watch Christophe Riblon pass him by and take the glory. Then in the 2015 Criterium du Dauphine, you can’t fault him for finishing second to cycling hall of famer Chris Froome. But it hurts more when he’s wearing yellow on the last day and loses by only 10 seconds.  Can you also fault him for not staying with Egan Bernal, our latest Tour winner? No, but again it happened while wearing the leader’s jersey in the Tour of California 2018. And then there were the abandons. Tejay had a prime podium position in the 2015 Tour only to abandon after the 2nd rest day. He also didn’t finish the Vuelta that year. The following Vuelta was another abandon after the 2nd rest day. I started making side-bets on whether TVG would even finish a race.  Needless to say, I lost money this year when he neither finished the Tour nor the Vuelta.

Now entering this next decade, there is new hope that the U.S will have some success in the World Tour and a new rooting interest. Already broken onto the scene at this year’s Vuelta, Sepp Kuss (25) appears poised to learn from the best and at Jumbo Visma and get some incredibly valuable Grand Tour experience. Brandon McNulty (21) just placed well at the U23 world TT and is ramping up his pro career and should have plenty of opportunity at UAE. And budding talent Quinn Simmons (18) coming straight off of a junior World championship has been scooped up by Trek-Segafredo and will head straight to a pro career.

Let’s raise a glass to a new decade of cycling and a hope that these three cyclist will give us Americans a lot more to cheer about in the 20’s!

2019 Race the Lake

Race the Lake is the only actual race we do that hugs Lake Winnebago for most of its 88 miles. Now when I say it’s a race, yes it is an actual race where actual racing teams will race hard, employ strategies, start breakaways, sprint for primes, etc. Those folks start in wave 1, about 8 or 9 waves ahead of us. For me, I don’t mind seeing those riders in the first wave following the flashing lights of the police escort pass me going the other way while I’m in my car just arriving at the race at 5-something-am. I know full well I can sleep an extra half hour because it takes that long to get to waves 9 and 10.

This year was also another edition where one of us couldn’t make it with Paul moving his first-born into college the same weekend. That’s a huge blow for CBC because Paul’s engine runs on Diesel, and his pulls are big pulls. Paul and I had high hopes starting out the year with this race in mind, so we had both signed up (in January mind you) for a wave ahead of where we usually start. However, back issues and a poorly timed medical procedure left my form in a sorry state for most of the year. I ended up turning to help in the form of a personal trainer in the weeks leading up to the race to get back near century-ride form.

Preston and I started in wave 10, and it was a pretty even back-and-forth of carrying each other through long stretches. The first half is always flat and fast. We started a small group off the front right away, but it was hard to find others willing to match tempo. We were able to catch up to and latch on to a bigger group, but their pace ended up higher than what we figured we could sustain, so we kind of meandered amongst small grouplets along the way to High Cliff. High Cliff is where everything blows apart. I managed to eke out a few more watts in a faster fashion than Preston up the hill, but as I sauntered along the top waiting for him to catch back up he took full advantage and zipped by me right before the High Cliff KOM prime (which was taken long before we got there). The second half is hillier and was also much windier this year. The wind was . . . well . . . the wind wasn’t brutal, but it was enough to crush our spirit for most of the second half.

After swapping some lengthy pulls into the wind, we finally wound downhill back towards the shore, heading back to Fon du Lac. I managed to put some distance between myself and Preston riding through town finishing slightly ahead for my only real racing move of the day. At the end, we rode up to the table where they hand you your finisher’s medal (or try to put it over your helmet) while a second person rips the GPS anklet off your leg, which to me was amazing because at that point I wasn’t sure I could bend over to take it off.

All in all, it was a pretty tough day; being down a man and adding a little more wind really took the pep out of our pedals. I think the post-ride picture says it all about how we both may have felt at the end. Although, the post-ride beer and Chili Cheese Fritos mitigated much of that.