Keeping under the radar, Lucas Euser of the Spidertech p/b C10 squad has been having a great ride so far at the USA Pro Challenge. He’s been keeping up with the pre-race favorites and sits in 11th place overall at only 17 seconds down from yellow jersey Tejay van Garderen (BMC).
“I think at the Tour of Utah I kind of emerged as a bit of a contender for the race so I wanted to go into USA Pro Challenge with that same attitude, being aggressive and contending for a podium spot. I’m still on track for that, I’ve been aggressive, put my neck out there a little bit. “ Euser told podiuminsight.
The first stages went well for Euser though he admits to making a few small mistakes with some of his attacks by going too early. “I’m learning a lot about how to win bike races right now because I haven’t done it yet and I’ve messed up my timing a little bit. Allen Lim said that the hardest part about delivering the joke is getting the timing down and the same goes for bike racing.”
One example was his late race attack on stage 3 that was reeled in before the finish. “Yeah, I went with 500 meters to go.” he said. “Even on my attack on the climb, I should have waited a little bit longer as well. I have no regrets, I’m happy with where I am, I’ve met every goal I’ve set out to accomplish so far at this race. Just because it didn’t go perfectly doesn’t mean I didn’t accomplish it. There are still more goals ahead and hopefully will give me some results.”
The change on his approach came not long ago for the 28-year American and he started to look at things differently. “I’ve spent the last six years watching guys be GC contenders and learning from those guys. Something clicked recently and I realized that it’s time for me to be one of them. Maybe over the next few years, there’s a changing of the guards and maybe in the next few years I can be contending for some big overall victory.”
Part of his role with the Canadian UCI Pro Continental team is also to call the shots as the captain on the road. “I think the guys respect that, they’ve helped me out a ton. We had a rough first day but other than that the team has been incredible and we’ve really come together. They’ve sacrificed themselves for my one goal and I appreciate that. In bike racing, there’s going to be a time when I get to do that for them.”
The Boulder, Colorado resident thrives under the pressure of not only racing as a contender but racing in Colorado. “My whole life I’ve thrived for that feeling of having that pressure and succeeding and coming through. I’ve struggled my whole career figuring that out in cycling but over the last few months. I think I’ve done it, figured out how to deal with that pressure, handle it well and stay calm and focused and really attack the goal that I have and accomplish it.”
The plan is to race smart, watch the big guys and play off of the rivalry between BMC Racing Team and Garmin-Sharp. “Ultimately it’s a matter of making sure that you’re not caught out and not caught behind, make sure that I’m with the best riders and I’m still sitting in the top 10. I feel that I am one of the top 10 riders in this race so I have to race like I am and race against the other top 10s.”
He also has to contend with having lost three teammates who abandoned on the first day due to the altitude. “Unfortunately, we don’t have a super strong team, we don’t have the depth that BMC and Garmin-Sharp do, they have more cards to play so I have to play poker a little bit out there. Maybe call the bluff of some guys and hope that it works in my favor. In return, they accomplish their goal as well.”
And then wait for stage 6, from Golden to Denver on Saturday with its final 3.5 mile climb to the historic Sunrise Amphitheater on Flagstaff Mountain. “And then it’s a matter of hiding until Flagstaff, I think Flagstaff is the next chance to make a move.”
Is he marking any riders specifically? “I can’t give away all my tactics.” Euser replied with a laugh.
Doing well at the USA Pro Challenge is a huge personal goal for Euser. It would mean so many things for him. “It means that I worked my ass off this summer, I did the work and I came here to show and by riding well it’s going to solidify what I felt in training, and that is that I took things to another level.”
And it would also prove that he’s fully recovered from the serious injuries – two broken ribs, a broken finger and a shattered patella – sustained in a training accident in 2009.
“I’m back to the rider I was in 2008, it’s taking me three years to get there and it was a long journey. Spidertech was a huge part of that and I owe them my career. And now, it’s time to win some races and thank you.”
Euser has other goals for the season. After racing the Grand Prix Cycliste Montréal and Québec, he hopes to be selected for Team USA at the World Championships.