Skip to content

Lessons from Utah: how to succeed in bike racing, the Euser-Reijnen way

August 10, 2014
Lucas Euser 8th at Snowbird after the entire Stage 6 in a breakaway

Lucas Euser 8th at Snowbird after racing the entire Stage 6 in a breakaway

Kiel Reijnen leaned over his bike just past the finish line at Snowbird, absolutely spent from an effort that had actually concluded 37 kilometers before he arrived at the end of Stage 6.

Since day one of the 2014 Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah Reijnen and UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling teammate Lucas Euser had been looking for an opportunity to race in the breakaway together. It arrived on Stage 6 which offered a hilly course designed for Euser’s climbing skills.

“When we start uphill like that it’s really good for me. I don’t do well when it’s one punchy climb at the finish like Powder Mountain; that’s a little bit tough for me,” Euser said at the post-race press conference. “But when it’s hard all day, climb after climb after climb, it’s usually when I do the best.”

Kiel Reijnen chasing Jens after the opening  Utah Stage 6 kilometers

Kiel Reijnen chasing Jens Voigt on Little Big Mt. after the start of Stage 6

After the break of 15 had established almost from kilometer zero with both men a part of it, Reijnen rode hard at the front with several BMC Racing Team riders. His job: drive the break at an insane pace to give Euser a chance to contest the win at Snowbird from a small group.

“He [Reijnen] came back to me a couple of times and said, ‘Man I am so done. My finish line is the bottom of Guardsman. You go from there,’” Euser recounted. “I was like, that’s fine.”

Euser then attacked Guardsman Pass and the remaining 37 kilometers to the finish line with Cadel Evans (BMC Racing Team), Joey Rosskopf (Hincapie Sportswear), and Trek Factory Racing’s Riccardo Zoidl. Evans descended like a rocket and Euser followed close behind, placing his hand on the BMC rider’s back occasionally to signal his presence.

The previous day on Stage 5 Euser and the UnitedHealthcare team whipped up the speed at the front of the field to place Reijnen in a good position to sprint for the win. Stage 5 represented the last chance for a sprint finish and Reijnen placed third. He missed out on Stage 3 and Stage 1 in Cedar City where the rise to the line seemed made for him. Minutes after the race ended in Cedar City he pedaled slowly down a street near the arrival arch, disappointment weighting his shoulders.

With each day comes new opportunity and on Stage 6 the two men seized it on arguably the toughest of seven days of competition in Utah. For his effort that day Euser would won the most aggressive rider jersey.

Lucas Euser in the most aggressive rider jersey

Lucas Euser in the most aggressive rider jersey

The lead group of four held off the GC chasers until the very end. With about two kilometers remaining Euser tried to go solo.

Evans, Rosskopf, and Zoidl caught him and the energy Euser spent took its toll; he couldn’t respond to the threesome’s subsequent attacks.

“I thought I could get a jump on [Evans] and not have to go to the line with four guys. These are guys that I know can out-sprint me. It was kind of all or nothing.”

Euser came home eighth. It was the fourth consecutive year he’d placed high on the stage. In the parking lot after the finish he rolled slowly on his bike under the hand of his soigneur as he processed the last couple of kilometers. He pounded the handlebars.

“I thought I could catch them off guard and it was a bad idea,” he said then, because he got dropped.

But later teammate Reijnen indicated his satisfaction with their overall efforts.

And in the end, Euser found similar satisfaction in a day he shared with a man that lives within five blocks of his home in Boulder and with whom he’d trained during the three weeks prior to the Tour of Utah.

“The dude was awesome. That guy was unbelievable,” Euser said of Reijnen while he ate a post-race recovery meal of rice, eggs, and parmesan cheese.

“You saw three BMC guys and my teammate Kiel put their finish line at the bottom of Guardsman Pass,” he said. “There’s nothing more selfless than that.”

And ultimately Euser remembered his part of the partnership. “I said yesterday I’m going to go from the gun and I’m not going to stop until I cross the line. I think I did that,” he said.

“You always go back and think: I could change this, I could change that. But ultimately I had a lot of fun out there. I had a smile on my face all day.”

Kiel Reijnen after Stage 6 finish at Snowbird

Kiel Reijnen after Stage 6 finish at Snowbird

From → Essays, Road Racing

Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: