‘In the next two or three years you’ll be surprised by the American talent’

Is US pro cycling in crisis? Jim Ochowicz of BMC Racing believes that the current lull will be short-lived

Adrien Costa
Adrien Costa, formerly of Axeon Hagens Berman (Photo: Davey Wilson)
(Image credit: Davey Wilson)

Any lack of big-name American stars will be filled in the next two to three years and cycling "will be surprised" by the next crop, says BMC Racing General Manager Jim Ochowicz.

Only six Americans took the start of the 2017 Giro d'Italia in Sardinia, with BMC's Tejay van Garderen the most highly regarded. Overall, however, the US lacks top stars in the professional ranks.

"We should see at least 10 racing the Giro, or a whole team," Ochowicz told Cycling Weekly.

“[The next generation of cyclists] are good and will be here soon. There was a time lapse for some reason, I don't know why it happened.

"Maybe in these last few years there was no one coming in or recruited to the pros. I think you'll see in two to three years most of them will be in these races and you'll be surprised by what they can do."

Under 23 cyclists such as Neilson Powless, 20-year-old winner of the recent GP Palio del Recioto, and Adrian Costa lead the way.

USA Cycling, and development teams such as Axeon Hagens Berman and BMC Racing's feeder squad, hope that these riders can fill the gaps in the classics and Grand Tours.

Watch: The 100th Giro d'Italia in 100 seconds

Taking away Lance Armstrong's wins, Greg LeMond is the last American to win the Tour de France in 1990. Andy Hampsten is the last to win the Giro d'Italia, in 1988.

Van Garderen has placed fifth twice in the Tour de France but suffered in recent years. This May, he is racing to win the Giro d'Italia.

"There is gap, but it's a time gap, not a talent gap," Ochowicz said in defence of his home country.

"The Under 23 cyclists get into the right races. BMC has a development team. The national teams do get into the high-level U23 races, they are competing against each other at the high test level in their age group, and if they are good, they will get to the pros."

US cycling is still reeling after the recent death of Axeon Hagens Berman's Chad Young. His team has previously produced the likes of Taylor Phinney, Ian Boswell, Joe Dombrowski, and Brits Alex Dowsett and Tao Geoghegan Hart. The current crop includes many other promising Americans.

"It's all the names you've heard, Powless, Costa, and many others you don't see yet. It's a big gap, from 150- to 250-kilometre races, 90- to 200-rider peloton, under different conditions. It take times to develop and some kids don't make it. Or there are those you don't hear about," said Ochowicz. "Did you ever hear about Greg Van Avermaet before he turned professional?"

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Gregor Brown

Gregor Brown is an experienced cycling journalist, based in Florence, Italy. He has covered races all over the world for over a decade - following the Giro, Tour de France, and every major race since 2006. His love of cycling began with freestyle and BMX, before the 1998 Tour de France led him to a deep appreciation of the road racing season.