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:
- How I won the Track Champions League, and what it means to me
- London crowds set a new standard
- Lithuanian light shows at the Champions League
- Holed up in paradise when the rain won’t stop
- A racer’s view of UCI Track Champions League
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.
Magnus Sheffield at work building up his track bike. There were a few gremlins to deal with since the bike hadn’t been ridden since his junior individual pursuit world record in the fall of 2020.
Eamon Lucas bringing the color to track camp with a limited edition Specialized Red Hook Allez he rode when he raced with Specialized-Rocket Espresso. By far the most interesting bike I’ve seen at a team pursuit camp.
Magnus Sheffield showing off his new Ineos Grenadiers training kit. We were never worried about finding him on the track in the high-vis orange.
New USA Cycling men’s track endurance coach Robert Stanley led the campaign for Adrian Hegyvary and I in the lead up to the Tokyo Olympics and is now taking charge of a larger rebuild in the men’s team.
Lifting is becoming a bigger and bigger piece of successful track training as the speed and gears continue to increase. Brendan Rhim enjoying lifting outside in the Portuguese sunshine.
Colby Lange working on his track bike, swapping between aerobars and standard drop bars depending on the session. Also sporting a quick gauze wrap after a blown front tubular resulted in a crash earlier in the session.
Eddy Huntsman assembling his track bike in our pit at the velodrome. Making sure nothing broke on the trans-Atlantic travel day.
Lily Williams preparing a cup of coffee in the morning. It’s a small thing but having the ability to control your own coffee in the mornings and be sure you’ll have something to drink that you enjoy goes a long way on big trips away.
Brendan and Colby with a couple thousand yard stares deep into a hard week of training.
We were supposed to have a mechanic with us for this trip but a last minute covid positive meant we were largely on our own. Despite the relative simplicity of track bikes they can be fairly finicky. Here, Lily looks through her gear bag trying to find the perfect piece.
Magnus and Eddy getting ready to roll out of our hotel and down to the track for an early morning training session.
Brendan feeling the sting between violent team pursuit efforts. The track in Portugal has an infield sunk nearly 40 feet below the track and getting up and down became harder and harder the more efforts we had in our legs.
Eddy and Magnus between efforts sitting in the pits, checking their phones and reconnecting with the outside world in the spare moments.
We were in the track for up to six hours a day, spending so much time inside starts to get a bit old and it’s important to keep the energy up, a responsibility that largely fell to Eamon.
Magnus working multiple screens trying to coordinate his newfound ambitions on the track with the logistics of riding with the best road team in the world.
Eddy in between efforts taking it in. The youngest member at the camp the adjustment from juniors to professional racing and training can be a big jump.