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Pure Energy’s Michael Chauner: Growing up in Philly’s shadow

  • By Matthew Beaudin
  • Published Jun. 1, 2012
  • Updated Jun. 2, 2012 at 12:56 AM EST
Michael Chauner will start his second Philadelphia International Championship on Sunday.

From the moment he was born, and probably even before, Michael Chauner (Pure Energy Cycling-ProAir HFA) has been going to the bike race in Philadelphia.

He’s been to every single edition. His father, David, is the co-founder of the TD Bank International Cycling Championship, so the younger Chauner probably didn’t have much choice. “I have been to the race every year of my entire life,” he said.

The first edition that actually sticks in his memory is 1993, the year Lance Armstrong famously destroyed the Manayunk Wall and was able to ride into the finish uncontested. The same year Armstrong won a million dollars here, thanks to winning all three of the week’s races. What a time to remember.

But now, Chauner’s here on his own, riding for Pure Energy Cycling-ProAir HFA. This is his second crack at the race he grew up watching, a race he’d dreamed of competing in growing up. He finished 39th last year in his first attempt.

“I grew up kind of watching racing and following in [his father’s] footsteps, I guess,” Chauner said. “I started racing when I was 13, on the road, but I’ve been riding bikes my whole life.”

Chauner suffers from exercise-induced bronchial spasms (EIB) and rides for the ProAir HFA team — the namesake medicine he uses to treat his condition. So far, the EIB hasn’t seemed much of a problem.

He began racing competitively on the road at age 14 and improved through the junior ranks, snagging some state and national championship medals. He graduated from Bucknell University in 2008 and collected 11 collegiate cycling victories throughout his college days, making him the most winning Eastern Collegiate Cycling Conference rider from 2004 to 2008. He was then picked up by Team Cykelcity.se of Sweden in 2009 and turned professional with them in 2011.

In Philly, he’s seeing a dream come true. “My career goal has been to start the race, for one, and then you get to the point where you can be in the contention for victory,” he said. “I just remember, every time I was watching this race, I was assuming in my own head that I would be racing it. I wanted to that bad.”

Co-founder of the race (and dad) David is happy with his son’s path and development as a cyclist.

“I think it’s great. He’s maturing as a rider. It’s become a real passion for him, cycling. And I’m just wishing him well. I’m like any dad: I’m really proud of him for what he’s accomplished and what he hopes to do,” he said.

The younger Chauner is looking forward to Sunday, and thinks the speed will pick up this year early due to the shorter race.

“I think teams aren’t going to want the break to go for 15 minutes like it’s gone in the past,” he said.

No matter what, Philly is always hard to win: “Because everybody wants to win this race, there’s always a good winner,” he said. “All these top names that are now in the Tour de France — they’ve all gotten a victory here.”

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