BOULDER, Colo. (VN) — American rider Ty Magner has found success the last two years in the form of consecutive wins in the U23 national criterium championship. He also came close to a stage win at the Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah last season, finishing third in a sprint behind Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing) and Michael Matthews (Orica-GreenEdge), wearing the best young rider jersey for several days.
VeloNews caught up with the 23-year-old as he prepared to start his 2014 campaign for the Hincapie Sportswear Development team.
“Our core nine or 10 guys are individually the best around,” Magner said of his squad, which includes Joe Schmalz, third at the 2013 elite national road race championship, and Joey Rosskopff, second at the 2011 USA Cycling U23 road nationals, and second at the 2012 Tour of the Battenkill.
After racing for the Hincapie Sportswear Development team in 2008 and 2009 as a junior, Magner moved to an elite team out of Athens, Georgia in 2010, and the following year he raced with Team Type 1. Securing a podium spot at U23 road nationals, which was one of many top-10 finishes he gathered throughout the season, 2011 was a successful year for the young rider — and it did not go unnoticed.
At the end of 2011, Rich Hincapie and Steve Carpenter contacted Magner while he was racing in China. The team Magner had raced with as a junior was now moving to the Continental level for 2012.
Magner told VeloNews it was a “no-brainer” to join Hincapie Sportswear for 2012, largely because of the support and the team’s approach to building successful juniors.
As a junior, Magner was not overly concerned with winning every big race on the calendar, but rather with becoming familiar with the trials and tribulations of bike racing that arguably shaped him as the strong rider he is today.
American investor Mark Holowesko, a strong supporter of American development teams, came on to support the Hincapie team in 2012, bringing in former 7-Eleven and L.A. Sheriffs pro Thomas Craven as the team director. Magner’s appreciation for Craven as a director, and more significantly a mentor, is considerable. Magner describes Craven as “cool, calm, and collected…with the fire of a pitbull.” Craven has fostered both Magner and the team with his passion for cycling and drive to share experiences aiding life outside of cycling.
The Hincapie brothers — ex-pro George, and Rich, the businessman — have played a huge role in Magner’s racing as well, approaching the start of his career in a well-rounded manner to help alleviate the inevitable pressures of bike racing. Magner was still able to balance his life outside of cycling by living as a normal 15-year-old. While many teams would have frowned upon a rider skipping training camp to play soccer or hang out with girls, the Hincapies were mindful of the need to take Magner’s exposure to the intense environment of racing slowly.
“The first few years of racing were more about learning to race your bike and deal with the lifestyle that comes from being professional,” Magner said.
Magner is now living in Asheville, North Carolina. Next month’s Redlands Cycling Classic is the first target race on his calendar.
“Yeah, it’s early [in the] season, but I’m hoping to be on top form come April,” Magner said.
Peaking for such an early race takes a diligent winter training plan, but Magner’s approach has been a little different than in years past. Asheville’s proximity to the Blue Ridge Mountains has been beneficial, and so has the opportunity to train with other professionals such as Brent Bookwalter (BMC Racing) and UnitedHealthcare’s Jonny Clarke and John Murphy. Magner also has the option of riding with the Winter Bike League in Georgia, his home state.
In working with Collin Izzard of CTS Training Systems, Magner’s main goal for winter training has been to remain smart and realistic.
“I took training in the winter with a grain of salt. If it was snowing, I wasn’t on the bike,” Magner said. “If it was stupid cold, I wasn’t on the bike.”
Staying healthy is his top priority, as starting the season with an already run down body is entirely counterproductive — which Magner experienced the last three seasons.
With a rested mind and fresh legs, Magner’s eyes are on Redlands for the moment, followed by the Winston-Salem Cycling Classic and the Silver City Tour of the Gila.
Further out, he will target May’s Volkswagen USA Cycling Professional Road National Championships in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Later in the season, Magner hopes the team will receive invites to the Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah, the USA Pro Challenge, and the Tour of Alberta, but he admits he “hasn’t looked much beyond May” because he is “focused on coming into April and May fresh on form for the early season goals.”
Besides continuing his life as a professional bike racer for the foreseeable future, Magner hasn’t looked too far beyond the 2014 season; he really just wants to secure some good results for himself and for his team.
“I’m psyched to lay it all out there for those guys to bring home some big wins,” Magner said.
Magner said, for now, he is quite content with his growing career as a pro cyclist.
“I’m thankful every day that I’m able to pop out of bed at 7 a.m., drink some coffee, make some delicious French toast … and then ride my bike? I love it,” he said.