As luck would have it, I was going to be in Park City two weeks before the Tour of Utah with Gavin Mannion for a little bit of altitude training. While I was there, I was able to meet up with the boys from the Hagen Berman Axeon cycling team to chat about their season, the upcoming race and of course, to ride to the top of Guardsman Pass to get a better view of Park City.
Axeon is a pro cycling team comprised of some of the best U23 riders in the country. In fact, many of these young riders go on to join world tour teams once their time with Axeon has come to an end. So in a sense, these riders are the future of our sport, which isn’t such a bad thing. This crew was a pleasure to spend time with, both on and off the bike. Not only are they all extremely talented riders, but just funny and kind people to be around.
Interviewing the team was fairly standard. We kept it as casual as possible, mostly me asking irrelevant questions and getting entirely sidetracked. But the best part of our short time together was when we jumped on our bikes and went for a ride. I’m not sure what happens when people start riding that makes it easier to talk or maybe because it was just a more one on one environment, but the dynamic definitely switched from “interview” to just a few people having a friendly conversation about whatever crossed someone’s mind. It was also apparent that most of them could hold a conversation while also performing a wheelie, which is impressive considering I feel like I might struggle to do those things, even separately.
As we climbed up to the saddle of Guardsman, I had a slight advantage of living at high elevation, so carrying on a conversation at 9,000 feet wasn’t much of a problem for me. Despite the brutal climb and the lack of oxygen, everyone was more than happy to talk and goof around on bikes, knowing that the next time they would be on the climb it wouldn’t be so fun or relaxed. But that’s something they and likely the rest of us already know about cycling…it’s a sport that you can make as serious or a silly as you want it to be. There is a time and place for charging up the climb, but there’s also a place for taking funny pictures and doing wheelies. Luckily, I had the opportunity to experience the latter.
Reese: I grew up in the era of cool boy bands, N*SYNC, Backstreet Boys etc. So I’m going to go out on a limb and say that the Axeon team is cycling’s version of a boy band. Who would you guys nominate as your lead singer, your Justin Timberlake if you will?
A: Without a doubt, Thomas Revard.
“I feel alright about this, I guess.” Thomas Revard
“I mean, he has a voice of a generation.” Mick Rice
Reese: Does anyone else have a role in this band?
A: “Jasper Philipsen would be the backup dancer.” Sean Bennett
Reese: Ok, well this is a good starting point. Hopefully, you guys can sort this out during the race and get back to me. Speaking of the race, what stage is everyone most looking forward to?
“The second to last stage, the queen stage. It’s got a mountain top finish and I’m hoping to do well there.” Thomas Revard
Reese: What is the least favorite stage?
A: (Everyone, but Revard) The queen stage!
Reese: Jonny, congrats on your recent National title! Are you excited to race Utah with your brother, Nate Brown (Education First)?
A: “Thanks! Yes, I mean nationals was our first race together, but I didn’t really see him, so I guess this will be our first pro race together. I think it will be pretty cool to be able to race against him.” Jonny Brown
Reese: Wahoo Fitness previously came out to your training camp at the beginning of this year in California. How was that?
A: “It was great. They made sure we were all properly set up with our computers which was quite helpful.” Rice
“It was nice to have them there if we had any questions about how to use their products, but to be honest, everything they make is pretty simple and intuitive. So everyone figured out how to work everything pretty quickly.” Jonny Brown
Reese: Do you guys all use the Kickr for training?
A: “I use it a lot during the winter.” Jasper
“We have some here to use for TT warm up.” Eddie Anderson
“Ah, Zwift races, for sure. I think Zwift is awesome. It’s getting so many more people involved in cycling.” Rice
Reese: I see that you’ve all got Bolts on your bikes today. What are your thoughts on them?
A: “It’s the simplest thing I’ve ever used!” Thomas Revard
“For pretty much every ride I create a route on Strava and upload it to the Bolt when I’m done.” Jonny Brown
Reese is an avid trail runner and cyclist. When she isn’t out riding gravel roads or running up a mountain near her home in Colorado, she’s drinking hot tea and staring at her French Bulldog, Loaf.
Check out @reeseruland for proof.