Published on July 5th, 2013 | by Phyl Newbeck0
Elite Cycling Team Comes to Vermont
Don’t look for them at the Tour de France just yet, but the Vermont based Dealer.com-Everbank Cycling Team will be showing off their jerseys at a variety of local and regional races this year. The team, comprised of 10 elite racers (nine men and one woman) plus three juniors, is Vermont’s only professional cycling team, which is roughly the equivalent of high-caliber college football or Triple A baseball.
Bobby Bailey of Essex and Adam Carr, formerly of Colchester recruited the team, which is competing on an elite level. Bailey, a veteran of Vermont bicycle racing, has competed professionally across the United States. In 2002 he founded a coaching business called 1K2GO to help other aspiring racers. Eventually he concluded Vermont had more than enough talent to put together a racing team, so he enlisted Carr’s help to assemble the talent. Carr turned pro four years ago, after an impressive amateur career that included a spot on the US national team program. In a span of roughly four months last fall, the two were able to recruit their cyclists and sponsors.
Cooper Willsey, 16, is one of the juniors on the team. Willsey started racing mountain bikes at Catamount when he was 5 or 6 and began entering Green Mountain Bicycle Club time trials at age 10. The Hinesburg native has been traveling to races for several years and was thrilled to be recruited for the Dealer.com-Everbank team. “It’s really a big step up for me,” said Willsey.
Jake Hollenbach, another team member, is serving as Willsey’s coach, and the junior racer likes traveling to the events with him, learning from him during the car rides as well as at the races. Every Sunday, Hollenbach sends Willsey a training plan that he follows during the week. On a typical week, he might race a time trial, take part in a group training ride, and test himself on a power meter that he keeps on his bike trainer at home.
So far, this has been a good year for Willsey. He had a second place finish at Tour of the Battenkill and the Quabbin Reservoir Classic Road Race, as well as a third place finish at the Tour of the Dragons. He was fourth in the road race portion of the Killington Stage Race and is looking forward to the Green Mountain Stage Race and the U.S. National Road Race which will be held in Wisconsin. Willsey recognizes that Vermont may not have a big racing scene, but he believes the state has some high quality racers. “It’s great to bring us all together so we can do well and support our Vermont sponsors,” he said.
Amy Miner of South Burlington is the only woman on the team. Training with all men has its benefits; this year Miner has already entered two men’s races in addition to several women’s events. She finished first in the circuit race portion of the Killington Stage Race this year. Miner began doing triathlons in 2008 and switched to road racing in 2010, starting as a Category 4 racer with the Onion River Team. By her second year she was Category 1 and raced for a now-defunct Northeastern team. She’s thrilled to be affiliated with a strictly Vermont team. “It keeps everybody local,” she said. “We can go to races as a team. We train together and ride together all the time and we know all our strengths and weaknesses.”
A sprinting specialist, Miner’s training is complicated by the fact that her job requires regular trips to Arkansas, but the warmer climate there has helped her training. Even when she’s not in Vermont, she keeps in touch with Bailey, her coach, who provides her with a workout schedule.
Bailey is pleased with how his team has done so far this season. They’ve stood atop the podium seven times with four first place and three second place finishes at major races. “I’m very happy with the way the team has met my expectations,” he said. “However, as you meet expectations in this sport you form new ones. You can’t create a low ceiling for yourself.” Bailey wants his cyclists to continue to push themselves. “You need to continue to raise the bar,” he said. “Getting better doesn’t make this sport easier; it makes it harder. I’ll never get to the point where I can be on cruise control. I’ll always be striving for more.”
“We all know each other and we’re friends,” Miner said of her teammates. “There’s great camaraderie. We kind of push each other and that drive to excel really helps. When I’m racing I know that I have teammates out there expecting me to do well.” Willsey agrees with that assessment. “The team gives me and other juniors a chance to aspire to be like the other racers on the team,” he said. “It helps us as younger racers who are still developing and learning.”