Thursday, July 10, 2008

Local cyclists off to Beijing


Olympic cyclist Adam Duvendeck grew into the elite cyclist that he is today in Santa Barbara among what he calls, “an incredible cycling community.” His rank as a top sprinter in U.S. cycling was recently reaffirmed when he earned a discretionary nomination to join U.S.A. Cycling at the Olympics in Beijing where he will compete in the team sprint.

Duvendeck also competed in the team sprint at the Athens games in 2004. There, he and teammates Giddeon Massie and Christian Stahl placed eleventh and did not pass the qualifying round. In the team sprint, the riders each take a trip around a 250 meter track, while banging elbows with the competition.
“It’ll be hard to get into the top four, because those teams are pretty much unbeatable” explained Duvendeck of the U.S. team’s status in the field of team sprint cycling. The top four being the United Kingdom, France, the Netherlands and Germany. “This year we should crack the top eight.”
At the World Championships this year, Duvendeck and teammates Massie and Michael Blatchford placed tenth while setting a new U.S. record with a time of 45.128. During that race, Duvendeck rode through an injury that caused sharp pain in his back. The injury has since healed.
He had hoped to earn a spot in the individual sprint but did not get the nomination, he feels, partially due to the injury that weakened some of his performances.
“It was a hard hit. I really felt that I was the best rider for that event, but they saw me as going a little downhill while other big riders were improving at the time,” said Duvendeck. He still could land a spot that remains open in keirin. Keirin is an event that involves riders in assigned positions single file, lapping the track behind a pacer. The pacer gradually increases speeds before exiting and leaving the riders to vie for position in a full sprint to the finish line.
Duvendeck won the nationals in keirin in 2006 and consistently places in the top three.
“They’ll basically wait until two days before the event to see who’s going the fastest,” said Duvendeck.
Duvendeck speaks fondly of his development as a cyclist in Santa Barbara, noting the tutelage of Rory O’Reilly, the 1984 Olympian and coach at Santa Barbara Echelon.
“That’s the thing that I like about Santa Barbara being a smaller community, even though I’m not living in Santa Barbara now, I always feel the support,” said Duvendeck.
Duvendeck’s interest in cycling began in 1995, at age 13, when he would hang out after school near his Mom’s office in the Loretto Plaza. While his Mom finished her work, he would drift into a neighboring store, Mac’s Bike Shop.
“It was one of those things. My Mom worked at a travel agency, she needed to go to work, and I would go to the bike shop and look at bikes,” Duvendeck recalled.
Duvendeck then ditched the mountain bike and bought a road bike to begin riding with Santa Barbara Echelon. It was there that O’Reilly noticed his ability to sprint and encouraged Duvendeck to take up track cycling.
At age 17, in 1999, Duvendeck won the 1k event at the Junior Nationals in Indianapolis. He was an unknown, underdog and took everyone by surprise.
“We didn’t think he could win. He was just this kid and they had this funny bike that they had put together,” recalled Andee Gaines, Duvendeck’s Mother. “I have it on videotape, from after the race, I was like ‘Oh my God. He won! He won! That’s my son and he won!’”
Duvendeck drew the attention of the U.S. cycling team after that showing and was invited to join the team at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs. He graduated from San Marcos high school a semester early, in January of 2000, and headed to the training center soon after.
After Athens, Duvendeck returned to Santa Barbara and trained at the P3 (Peak Performance Project) where he credits strength coach Marcus Elliot for his progress. Other locally grown pro-athletes like former Santa Barbara High baseball player and current Colorado Rocky, Ryan Spilborghs, train at P3.
“Using Marcus’ science and method has really got me to another level. I’ve never met anyone with the knowledge and dedication to training athletes that Marcus has,” said Duvendeck.
Duvendeck now trains in Long Beach because of the track facilities and hopes to be peaking for the Olympics. He has put aside his personal philosophical differences with China’s poor human rights record out of respect for the games. He did express concern for the air quality in Beijing. He experienced the smog at a trial there last December, and described the air quality as, “just awful.” Athletes will wear masks when not competing to protect their lungs from the contaminated air.

1 comment:

Greg Knowles said...