This week, three California Giant Berry Farms/Specialized riders, Evan Huffman, Eamon Lucas and Nate Wilson, made their way to Europe to join the USA under-23 National Team for the next four weeks. Huffman and Wilson will be racing the same schedule which includes stage races in Italy and France while Lucas will be staying in Belgium.
The last time that newly crowned USA under-23 time trial champion Huffman raced in Europe was in 2009 as a junior. “Last year, I did Canada and China and then this year I did Canada again. I’ve done some stuff off and on but it’s been some time since I’ve gone to Europe.”
His goal for the races is simple. “I just want to be consistent, do the best I can and help my teammates. There are a couple not real long time trials that suit me, a prologue, a time trial so hopefully get a result in one of those.”
The 22-year old will have a chance to proudly wear the Stars and Stripes on a few occasions in the under-23 events.
Wilson is looking forwards to returning to Europe.”I went last year for a while but it was in the Spring so I haven’t done any of these races.” he said. “I think that these races are a little better suited to me than some of the ones I did last year so it should be a good opportunity.”
It’s about the experience for the 21-year old. “The races are going to be pretty tough. I think that they are very hilly, it depends what the field is like but if I could go top 10 on a stage or overall that would be really good.” said Wilson who is ready to help his teammates where needed. “At same time, it depends on the team we have there. If Evan is riding really well or someone else I might just be helping them out but I think that just being over there and doing these races is good enough for now.”
Though all three have raced in Europe previously, only Lucas is going into familiar races. “I actually did this trip last year. I’m pretty familiar with the area and I’m pretty familiar with the competition, it will be tough races just because of the terrain in Wallonie which is hillier but it makes for more of an exciting race, not a field sprint day but a small selection at the end of every day.”
He continued, “Last year I felt that going in the under23 mix as the youngest age category was about learning and kind of just surviving. I feel like that this year and the winter that I did to build for this year was very successful winter and the trip in the Spring was very successful and that I definitely made very big progression from last year to this year. So this year is about going for results, this year I’m going to make a statement this year.”
The 19-year old Lucas, who just took fifth at the USA under23 national time trial championships in aiming for a win. “That means me winning, my teammate winning, me helping a teammate to win, the team winning, whatever it means, I want USA on that podium.”
Huffman and Wilson will tackle the Giro Ciclistico della Valle d’Aosta Mont Blanc from July 16 to 22, the Tour des Pyrénées from July 31 to August 4 and the one-day Gran Premio Sportivi di Poggiana-Trofeo Bonin Costruzioni in Italy on August 12. Lucas’ race schedule consists of the Tour de Liège from July 17 to 22, the one-day Ringlaef and the Tour de Namur from August 1 to 5.