With Cameron Meyer just winning the 2011 Santos Tour Down Under, we started to realise that more and more champions and race winners had in fact come from disciplines other than a pure road background. This then threw up the obvious riders – Lance, Cadel, Cameron Meyer and Rebecca Romero to name but a few.

Here we take a look at where the riders we now know as ‘champion roadies’ have come from…

Cadel Evans:

Cadel hails from the town of Katherine, in the Northern Territory, Australia.

At the age of 2 he was riding a 16″ wheeled BMX, he was soon XC racing and in 1993 his first national title arrived. He was hooked on the muddy stuff. His results sheet is littered with MTB titles and Cups up until 2001 when his big break came with a road ride for Pro team Saeco.

From here the only way was up – he won five races on the road including the mountainous Tour of Austria (one stage and overall) and the Brixia Tour in Lombardia (overall and points). As well, there was the invitation-only uphill time trial A’Travers Lausanne in Switzerland (where he beat Tour de France hero Lance Armstrong).

How easy is this to do?

Grundy, his mountain bike coach who coached him into the big league of road racing, wasn’t at all surprised that a big team has picked him up.

“He wins big races, he reads races really well… he’s extraordinarily good at winning races. He has only had one race on the road where he has finished outside the top 10,” he said.

While us road riders go out on a Sunday and fairly easily rack up 80, 90 miles (140, 150km) to manage 40 miles of proper MTB’ing in a day is a challenge. Those numbers will put some people right off before starting!

Nowadays we know Cadel Evans for his staring role in the BMC Racing Team. 2010 was a good season for him, coming into the season wearing the Rainbow jersey from Mendrisio he took the Fleche Wallonne and went on to push Ivan Basso right to the end at the Giro d’Italia – their battle on the climbs was amazing to watch and exactly how cycling should be!

A long but great video of Basso finally breaking Cadel on the Zoncolan in the 2010 Giro. (Scarponi is the other guy!)

Living the life of a Pro Cadel now lives in Barwon Heads in the off season and once the Pro season begins he’s taking up residence in Switzerland – perfect eh!?

When asked: Do you ever have any nostalgia for those mountain bike days? His reply was:

“Absolutely! I enjoyed my time as a mountain biker and it was good training to become a pro road racer. I still love to ride my mountain bike in the forest; I don’t get to do it very often, but I don’t think my love for mountain biking will ever change.”


What does he bring across from MTB to Road?

  • His bike position and ‘stance’ is to many eyes quite awkward but we’re not going to argue, if it gets him these results we’ll go with whatever we need!
  • You have to admit it, road bikers who have previously MTB’d, BMX’d or race Cross have far better bike handling skills than a rider who hasn’t. Knowing how to cope with skids, slides and un-nerving wobbles are part and parcel of this and so dealing with them on the road is no problem.
  • Grit and determination? Maybe or maybe that’s just his nature – to be a World Champion takes a very special talent indeed.

Cameron Meyer:

This 4 time World Track Champion is just hitting the big time in road racing. An overall win at the Santos Tour Down Under has propelled Cameron from the track champion he is to the Pro Tour stage race champion, and while the TdU may get bashed by some critics you really can’t argue that his talent runs very deep.

How did he get into cycling?

“I first got into cycling around 2001 through a school program where we did a bit of a clinic and they gave out free passes at the end of it. I tried the velodrome with the free pass, enjoyed myself and loved it ever since.”

We saw him last at the Commonwealth Games with his win in Team Pursuit, the Points Race and Scratch Race – track really suits him! His results from 2010 pretty much sum up his talent:

1st MaillotAustralia.PNG National Time Trial Champion
1st Jersey rainbow.svg Points Race, World Track Championships
1st Jersey rainbow.svg Team Pursuit, World Track Championships
1st Jersey rainbow.svg Madison, World Track Championships
1st Gold medal blank.svg Team Pursuit, Commonwealth Games
1st Gold medal blank.svg Points Race, Commonwealth Games
1st Gold medal blank.svg Scratch Race, Commonwealth Games
(Bravo Wikipedia)

Slowly though he has been coming over to the road side of things, in 2009 he participated in the Giro giving him a great insight into the whole new world of stage racing. Combined with a national TT medal and this recent TdU glory Cameron Meyer is certain to be making headlines in the near future.

What does he bring from the Track to the Road?

  • Riding a fixed track bike gives riders a great smooth technique and the ability to manage high cadences.
  • The track also brings riders as close together as in the peloton but without brakes and just their legs to brake – this forces smooth riding with sudden moves or jolting often ending up in crashes.

What else does 2011 hold for the 23 year old Aussie??? (there seems to be an Aussie theme here – not intended!).

Riding for Garmin-Cervelo he hasn’t got lack of support or poor quality bikes to blame!

Check out our 2011 team preview here.

Here he is playing it very cool in a post-race chat.

Lance Armstrong:

Lance as ever divides the critics, but no blog about successful transitions would be complete without this man. His early days were spent as a triathlete and by 12 he was winning junior triathlons with ease. Anyone (and I hope this is most of you!) who’s read his ‘It’s Not About the Bike’ book will know that Tri was a real passion of his as a youngster. There are many quotes of his dedication and ability but this one caught me this morning:

Lance rode with the team going for a 75-mile ride and when they returned home, Armstrong and McRae would be off on an hour-long run or head to the swimming pool.

Quite stunning really considering how I feel after a 75 mile ride with the team!

Since then the history has been written – 7 Tour de France’s, Tour de Suisse and something which a lot of us have missed – World Champion in 1993. Of course in 1996 it all looked like it was about to go badly wrong. Testicular cancer struck and after spreading to various other parts he was given just a 40% chance of survival. It took until 1999 before his Tour dominance began…

7 Tours later and Lance officially retired from cycling in 2005, it only took 4 years for him to realise that road is best and to give the Tour another go with Astana.

Given his time off he did remarkably well finishing in 3rd place (I remember his climb up to Verbier very well!) – quite a feat given his age and having had so long out of the Pro peloton.

2010 however was what many would say a ‘disaster’. Crashes galore, 3 in one stage if I remember rightly (one which included the majority of Euskaltel in a feed station). Still, finishing 23rd in the Tour de France would be most of our dreams…

What has he brought from Tri to Road?

  • Lance’s success is down to far more than the fact he was stunningly good at sport in general as a child.
  • We all know he’s a fabulous athlete with a bigger heart than average and mental strength which many of us will never match.
  • Tri does give your body the full workout – swimming is a great CV workout and a full body workout, running is tough and tests you like nothing else, cycling in the middle of these events just adds to the pain and mental test.

Last but not least – Rebecca Romero:

Not someone you might have heard of if you’re outside the UK but this lady has carried out quite a feat in that she’s won Olympic medals (Silver) for rowing and then gone on to win medals at the World Track champs just a couple of years later.

“During the 2005 racing season I had been carrying an injury and had to take time out of the new season to rehab it. During my rehab time, despite having had such a successful previous year, I decided that I had served my time with rowing and wanted to move onto other things. As I was considering my retirement from rowing and the prospect of a new, exciting and challenging future career, possibly using the Diploma in Marketing Communications that I had recently completed, another twist of fate occurred. I was approached by British Cycling and there began a whole new beginning for me! I was put through a testing procedure and told that I had the potential to succeed at a high level in cycling. In April 2006 I started training as a cyclist with the aim of participating in the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games.”

“Five months into it I competed in my first major competition, the British Time Trial Championships. Having only practised a handful of time trial races, albeit producing some respectfully fast times, I was hoping to finish inside the top five. However, being as I was still on a steep improvement curve, I shocked myself and the cycling world by winning! In my first cycling race I became British Champion.” (rebeccaromro.co.uk)

As Rebecca says: “You can dream…But can you live your dream?”

If this hasn’t given you that extra push to get outside (or into the garage on the turbo) and ride your legs of I don’t know what will! If you need a final read for inspiration don’t forget to read our blog on Joao Cerreia who joined Cervelo Test Team last year at 34 years old after 14 years off the bike in an office job (here)!

Who do you admire for their pure determination and dedication to the sport? Let us know below…




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