‘Hollywood’ first caught the eye as US Novice 500 Metre Time Trial Champion on the track in 2003; by 2005 he’d won a stage in the Canadian Tour de l’Abitibi – ‘the junior Tour de France.’
In 2008 as a stagiaire with Garmin he won four US national championships on the track – team pursuit, scratch, points and madison. The following season saw a fifth place in the tough Mei Prijs in Belgium behind fast man Denis Flahaut, a stage win in the Tour de la Province de Namur and two stage wins in the Spanish Vuelta a Palencia.
The win for which he is perhaps best known came in 2010 when he took the US Elite Criterium Championship riding for Bissell. But 2011 with Kelly Benefits was compromised by illness, albeit he won two stages in the Tour of America’s Dairy Land.
A stage win in the Tour of Mexico was a good start with his new Raleigh team for season 2012 but the largely one hour criterium based UK scene wasn’t totally to his taste so for 2013 he was back in the USA riding amateur. The second half of 2013 however saw him back in the full pro ranks with Amore & Vita but despite riding race as prestigious as the Coppa Agostini and GP Costa Degli Etruschi he couldn’t get the full race programme which he needed.
He hopes 2014 will be more fruitful with US squad Athlete Octane and some good form from all those lefts turns on the tracks of Europe.
PEZ: How many six days have you ridden now?
It says 12 in the Berlin programme but to tell the truth, I’m not sure. I’ve ridden the six days of Dortmund, Zuidlaren, Zurich, Copenhagen, Munich, Amsterdam, Rotterdam and Berlin. I’ve also ridden the summer six day in Fiorenzuola twice and the Burnaby six in Canada – but I don’t know if they count?
PEZ: What do you remember of your first six?
That was Dortmund and like any guy in his first race at a new level be that U23 or Pro Tour, it was all a bit of a whirlwind. I’d always wanted to do one but I remember being blown away by how little I had to do except ride my bike – it was all done for you by the support staff.
We were in the same cabin as Erik Zabel and Robert Bartko; that was extraordinary – a great experience. In the first 30 minute chase my groin and inner thighs were just screaming with the speed on such a low gear – a total shock to the system but a great experience. And you realise pretty quick that six days are there to provide pure entertainment for the crowd.
PEZ: Which six has been most memorable?
Bruno Risi’s ‘farewell’ at Zurich; the atmosphere was electric, in the chases every night you couldn’t hear yourself think, the noise was just crazy. There was a crash and it was like 15 laps before I even noticed, I was so wrapped up in my own world on the boards, conscious of nothing but the track.
PEZ: Your toughest six?
Copenhagen, I arrived from a training camp in New Mexico the day the race started, my legs were swollen and it was pure suffering right from the start. All sixes are hard but that one night sticks out in my mind.
PEZ: How have you been accepted by the riders on the circuit?
Really well; Colby had a lot of respect, guys had raced against him in World Cups – riders like Llaneras and Risi – they knew him and trusted him. I guess that they trusted his partner would be OK too and were amazingly friendly and helpful towards us. We used to hang out with the Italian rider Angelo Ciccone, I felt comfortable with him and could ask about pretty much anything.
Hanging out with partner Guy in between races.
PEZ: You rode Amsterdam in October, first, this season?
We got the ride late; I’d had a bad time racing the road in Italy and decided to take a break but hey! – when you get a contract you just do what you can to get the legs ready. It really wasn’t enough time but I drew on my experience and knew what to expect.
It was the US rider agent Patrick Lyons who got us the ride, he knows Frank Boele the promoter well. We signed the Berlin contract in Berlin and we’d had the Copenhagen contract since August.
PEZ: Then Rotterdam in January?
That contract came a little late too – If you had two weeks or less between sixes it would be best to stay in Europe; but I moved to LA so I could better prepare for Berlin – I knew we had that contract and so I was training for that, whatever happened.
PEZ: And now, Berlin.
I went home after Rotterdam, with the benefit of hindsight, maybe I didn’t tap into my resources enough and ask around if I could have stayed with someone I know in Europe. But that said, I can only train on a track so much – the thing about California is that the weather is good and you can always get out on the road to train. I was a little bit sick before I came over, not too bad but not helped by the travel.
PEZ: And Felt supply the hardware?
I’ve had the bike since my Garmin days; it’s very stiff and ideal for the tight six day tracks. It’s not the lightest but I’m more concerned about strength, stiffness and responsiveness. It’s got a high bracket so you can go slowly on the bankings without worrying about grounding a pedal; and I have a good position on it.
PEZ: Aren’t some of the six day tracks a bit bumpy on a stiff frame?
As long as your position is good and you’re sitting on the bike well that’s not a problem. Felt have always given me good back up and even though I’ve had that bike a few years I think the initial design was so good they haven’t had to change much.
PEZ: Which gear do you ride in a six?
When I started, I was clueless and left it to the mechanic who fitted 53 x 16, I found that a little low and now I ride 50 x 15 – I don’t know what the other guys are on, I try not to be distracted by stuff like that.
PEZ: Let’s look back at your career; stagiaire with Garmin but no contract?
Yeah, the next year I was on the US U23 national squad and I got the wins; I felt I was riding well enough to step up – I spoke to Jonathan Vaughters but it didn’t work out.
PEZ: You won the Criterium Nationals for Bissell in 2010 but no ride with them in 2011?
That was down to miscommunication with my agent at the time; asking more than I was happy to accept – middle man problems, I guess you could say?
PEZ: Kelly in 2011.
That was a rough year; I had one of my best winters, ever and was in good shape at the training camps. But I crashed at the Tour of Malaysia and broke five ribs, ending up in hospital for 10 days. Then I got a staph infection from an infected saddle sore when I was in France.
I was on antibiotics but still had to cope with the demands of travel and the team’s expectation. I had a few wins and podiums and I think I did my work for the team but my contract wasn’t renewed.
PEZ: How did you come to be with the British Raleigh team for 2013?
I got talking to one of their guys at the last criterium of the year in Boston in 2011 – one thing lead to another. I liked the UK road scene; there are no real major climbs; maybe five to eight minutes duration and I like that kind of racing – lumps, wind, rain . . .
But the living conditions and the crits weren’t the best for me; one hour, highly technical with single file sections – that was a bit of a shock to the system. In the States crits are 100 kilometres with a certain rhythm to them – in the UK it’s full throttle from the off.
PEZ: How was season 2013?
It was a risk going to the UK for season 2012 because it means I was off the US domestic map and by the time teams were aware of me again their rosters were filled. I raced for Team Mike’s Bikes in the Bay Area, I was mentoring young guys in a nice relaxed atmosphere with no pressure. I was helping the young guys but was still winning – including one at the Sea Otter.
Then Amore & Vita got in touch; my first race was Philly and then the Air Force Criterium where I was second. After that was the Tour de Beauce where I got sick – I should have rested after that but instead travelled to the Qinghai Lakes stage race in China and with the altitude and illness still in my system, I didn’t perform. When I got back to Italy I was carrying a lot of disappointment from Qinghai – and then the team didn’t have as many races as I thought we’d have. I like to race and it wasn’t a great programme for me.
PEZ: What does 2014 hold?
I’m with Athlete Octane with a focus on the US crit scene – I want to be able to go out and have fun in the races and that way the results just come. It’s an amateur team so we won’t be fighting to try and get into the Tour of California – I’ll take it race by race, month by month . . .
# One thing is sure, it won’t be boring in the car en route the next race if ‘Hollywood’ is on the back seat. #