In recent years, the California-based LUX Cycling Junior Development Team has grown to be arguably the leading route to the pros for junior riders in the United States. Notable names to cross on their way to the WorldTour in recent seasons include Quinn Simmons of Trek-Segafredo, Brandon McNulty of the UAE Emirates team and Kevin Vermaerke of the DSM team.
Next season, the team will supply Makayla MacPherson and junior world championship silver medalist Kaia Schmid to the professional women’s team Human Powered Health, while her teenage colleague Cole Kessler will move up to the men’s continental ranks with the Human Powered Health team. feed from the Start-Up Nation of Israel, the Israel Cycling Academy.
With LUX enjoying an established reputation for developing talented riders, keeping up with their alumni is a must if you want to find the next big thing in American cycling.
Kessler, an 18-year-old UCLA student who only started racing a bike five years ago, takes the plunge after just one real season of road bike racing, after dropping out of the race bike. Mountain bike.
This season – the past year – saw him win his national time trial title, a stage and take second place overall in the Ronde des VallÃ©es, and make his World debut. in Belgium.
Cycling news I met Kessler midway through ISN-ICA training camp in Tel Aviv earlier this month to find out more about him, the latest LUX graduate to hit European cycling.
Cycling news: So first of all, how did you start cycling?
Cole Kessler: I started on my mountain bike with my friend Adam from Switzerland. We were just riding for fun and then I started taking it seriously a few years later when I joined our high school mountain bike team.
Then I went on the road bike to improve on the mountain bike, but I fell in love with the road bike, I made the switch. Last season was my first real season on the road bike because COVID obviously ruined my first year as a junior, so my last year as a junior was my first real-time race on the road bike.
CN: Was there anyone you admired or a trigger to start cycling?
CK: I mean I admired Froome. When the dream started for me was when I watched the Tour de France the last time Chris Froome won. Just the fans and everything, I imagined what it would be like to win the Tour de France. It was then that I really started cycling and wanted to be a professional rider.
CN: You left the LUX development team. Can you tell us more about this?
CK: LUX was the junior team in America that brings you to Europe and gives you the experience you need to take the step and become a professional cyclist. I can’t be grateful enough to Roy Knickman [team manager] for trying my luck.
The team is based where I’m from – Newbury Park in the Thousand Oaks area – and yes, he took a chance with me. I didn’t have any real results, obviously, because I was new to the sport. I was really happy to have made it last year in junior and to prove to him that I was worth it.
CN: And you’re the last graduate of the team, after a few well-known names …
CK: LUX definitely comes out with some really great guys – McNulty, Luke Lamperti, Simmons, Vermaerke, Sean Quinn. It’s a long list of guys who are really, really, really good, and I hope someday I can make it on that list of guys who are pretty good.
CN: You are the reigning US junior time trial champion. Is this your discipline of specialty so far?
CK: It’s early to see what I’m good at but I got a taste for time trials because I love the aero part of cycling – the numbers and everything. I’ve been working on my fit all year, trying to have more aero and develop as much power as possible. I have found a good position but there is still a long way to go on that side.
I also like to climb, but I’m also a tall guy at 195cm. So I don’t know how long I can keep the weight off but for now it’s okay. Maybe GC but we’ll see. I am not sure yet.
CN: This is your first camp with the team, the WorldTour and Continental teams integrated here in Israel. How did the experience go?
CK: The atmosphere here is amazing. I knew it would be a great group of guys. I was looking for a team that had a good development program and good races, but I also wanted to feel like I was really part of the team. Knowing that these guys are some of the best in the world and also really cool guys that I can bond with, it seemed like the obvious choice for me for sure.
CN: I guess everyone is fairly new to you at that first team camp, but who did you bond with at this early stage?
CK: I was roommate with Yuval [Ben Moshe] during the whole camp and I bonded well with him. In fact, the whole Conti team with whom I have already befriended. It’s a great group of guys, and I hung out with the WorldTour guys quite a bit too.
I hung out with Chris a lot. At dinners we often sat next to each other and being able to talk to him, choose his brain and get advice was just a dream. Giacomo – world class sprinter – it’s cool to meet him. A long list. It’s awesome. It’s a dream.
CN: Obviously, WorldTour team riders and their Continental Food teams can switch to certain races throughout the year – was that a big draw for you?
CK: One of the main reasons I also chose the team was the integration between the Conti team and the WorldTour team. During this whole camp, we hung out with the WorldTour guys, met them and made that connection because we do a lot of races where we could improve.
And then if these guys need more races, then they’ll go with us. It’s a nice mix. We haven’t quite got our schedules yet, but I’m sure I’ll be doing some big races.
CN: It’s only the beginning of your time in the facility but do you have a plan for your future?
CK: I have a two year contract now. Then I hope to be able to continue with the Conti team or move on to the WorldTour. We’ll see.