A Racer’s View: U.S. team camp in Portugal

Looking towards Paris, from Portugal — the U.S. track team gets to work.

Gavin Hoover is an American Tokyo Olympian who won the UCI’s new Track Champions League series, which had rounds in Mallorca, Lithuania, and London. He has been sharing his experiences here in A Racer’s View.

For the majority of my time racing on the track with the U.S. National Team, training camps with about 10 riders have been seminal to my experience. And then Covid hit and all track racing, except the Olympic Games, was put on hold.

With just two spots available for the U.S. men’s endurance team for the Olympics, I spent most of the last two years training exclusively with the women’s track team and my Olympic Madison partner Adrian Hegyvary. I got very comfortable working in a much more intimate setting with a coach and one or two other athletes.

In fact, I started to really enjoy the ability to do exactly what I wanted, have personal motor pacing sessions, and enjoy a fairly unlimited amount of track training time. I always knew a functional track program wasn’t two athletes, but I kind of forgot that I’d be returning to an environment with a full team.

Previously from A Racer’s View:

Showing up for the first USA Cycling track camp of the new Paris Olympic cycle was an instant reminder of what I had been missing during the relative isolation of the last couple years.

The goal for us now is to pick up where we’d left off when the previous iteration of the program failed to qualify a men’s team pursuit for the Tokyo Games. This time, hopefully we’ll be putting American male riders on the line in every endurance track event in Paris and building on the results from the Omnium and Madison.

With such a short turnaround this Olympic cycle it’s a big ask but it’s why we went to Portugal in January — to do the work necessary to bring in new riders and start meshing together as a team. The perfect weather and amazing road riding aside, Portugal makes sense with relatively easy access to a world class indoor velodrome and it’s easier for the guys based in Europe racing on the road to cut their teeth on the track.