Season Preview: USA Cycling’s Pro Road Tour (Part 2)
Updated: Apr 7, 2018
On the eve of USA Cycling’s 2018 Professional Road Tour (PRT), we’ll conclude our PRT preview with a look ahead at the men’s PRT season. As with yesterday’s post on the women of the PRT, there is a lot of unpredictability. We'll have a better idea about how the season will shake out over the next few weeks as the pro peloton races the Sunny King Criterium, Joe Martin Stage Race, Tour of the Gila, and Dana Point Grand Prix. Until then, here are A Cyclist In A Strange Land’s predictions.
Men’s Pro Road Tour
With three of the PRT’s powerhouse men’s teams (i.e., Rally Cycling, Holowesko–Citadel p/b Arapahoe Resources, Hagens Berman Axeon Cycling Team) graduating to the Pro Continental ranks this season, don’t be surprised if we don’t see much of them outside of the biggest stage races and criteriums. It’s unclear what this will mean for the men’s PRT. Rally, Holowesko-Citadel, Hagens Berman, and UnitedHealthcare could still take the overall PRT crown, but the majority of smaller criteriums and road races will feel very different with their absence. Will the loss of the PRT’s dominant teams mean devalued competition in many of the men’s races? Or, will one of the remaining big teams (e.g., Jelly Belly Pro Cycling Team p/b Maxxis) dominate the series with their strength and experience? My personal hope is that the smaller teams (e.g., Elevate KHS Pro Cycling Team, 303 Project Pro Cycling Team, Hanger 15 Bicycles Racing Team, CCB Velotooler Cycling Team) will be energized by the power vacuum and step up to the next level of performance.
Jelly Belly Pro Cycling Team p/b Maxxis
Recent seasons have seen Jelly Belly import star riders from outside of North America (think Lachlan Morton and Serge Tsvetkov). This year will be a little different with an all-North American lineup. Still, with experienced riders like Jacob Rathe, Curtis White, and Ulises Castillo, plus promising under-23 riders in Matteo Jorgenson and Keegan Swirbul, expect successful challenges for PRT wins this year. Will this translate into big performances in races like the Tour of the Gila and the Colorado Classic? Only time will tell.
Silber Pro Cycling
Everyone’s favorite Canadian interlopers, Silber Pro Cycling is set to have a promising 2018 season. The team tested the waters at the Tucson Bicycle Classic and came away with a strong showing for the entire team, particularly Nick Zukowsky – who won the overall classification – and Alec Cowan. Even though the team is young, expect aggression from them during PRT stage races as well as anything north of the 49th parallel. After a development-focused year in 2017, now’s the time for Silber’s young talents to shine.
Aevolo Cycling Team
Mike Creed’s little team surpassed expectations last year when Gage Hecht won a stage at the Redlands Bicycle Classic. This year we’ll see if the directeur sportif has re-captured the same lightning in a bottle that he had during his 2014 season directing Team SmartStop. As the team grows to 18 riders this season, Aevolo may be on its way to becoming the US’s premier development team at the Continental level. They’ve already captured their first-ever yellow jersey at the non-PRT Chico Stage Race; keep an eye out for Gage Hecht, Hoehn Seals, and the rest of the team to keep shaking up the finishing order this season.
Justin Williams (Williams Racing)
You might expect that, with the PRT power vacuum, that we’ll see Justin Williams in the PRT winners circle even more in 2018. But, it’s not yet clear how much we’ll be seeing Justin at PRT races. Having teamed up with Specialized to compete in the full Red Hook Crit Series (a fixie lover’s dream!), PRT races may not be Justin’s top priority. Having said that, he won twice at last month’s Chico Stage Race, so we’ll probably see him on the PRT podium before long.
Men’s PRT Schedule
April 7..................Sunny King Criterium (Anniston, AL) April 12-15...........Joe Martin Stage Race (Fayetteville, AR) April 18-22...........Tour of the Gila Stage Race (Silver City, NM) April 29................Dana Point Grand Prix Criterium (Dana Point, CA) May 3-6................Redlands Bicycle Classic Stage Race (Redlands, CA) May 19.................Rochester Twilight Criterium (Rochester, NY) May 26.................Winston-Salem Classic Criterium (Winston-Salem, NC) May 28.................Winston-Salem Classic Road Race (Winston-Salem, NC) June 2...................Glencoe Grand Prix Criterium (Glencoe, IL) June 8-10.............Saint Francis Tulsa Tough Omnium (Tulsa, OK) June 9-10.............Armed Forces Cycling Classic Omnium (Arlington, VA) June 13-17...........North Star Grand Prix Stage Race (Minnesota) July 13..................Chrono Kristin Armstrong Time Trial (Boise, ID) July 14..................ASWB Twilight Criterium (Boise, ID) July 14..................Detroit Cycling Championships Criterium (Detroit, MI) August 6-12…..….Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah Stage Race (Utah)
August 16-19…....Colorado Classic Colorado Stage Race (Colorado)
Aug. 31-Sept. 3....The Gateway Cup Omnium (St. Louis, MO)
September 8……..Thompson Buck County Classic Road Race (Bucks County, PA)
September 9........Thompson Criterium of Doylestown (Doylestown, PA)