December 4/12 10:44 am - Ben Chaddock Signs with SmartStop-Mountain Khakis - Report & Interview
Posted by Editoress on 12/4/12
Canadian national criterium champion, Ben Chaddock, has signed with Team SmartStop presented by Mountain Khakis for the 2013 season. Chaddock was one of a number of riders left stranded last week when Team Exergy collapsed after the title sponsor abruptly pulled the plug. The U.S. domestic registered team is based in North Carolina and competes primarily in the U.S.
Ben Chaddock winning 2012 CDN Criterium Championships
Team director Jamie Bennett stated: "I feel that the addition of Ben to the program has fully completed our roster for the first time in seven years. His skill sets will lend perfectly to the success or our program in reaching it's goals for 2013. Not only that, Ben is a great guy and a leader off the bike too with his children's foundation. Having the Canadian National Champion on the team works well for our sponsors too, as SmartStop has invested heavily in Ontario markets, and Mountain Khakis is growing internationally as well."
Ben Chaddock competing at the 2012 US Twilight Crit
Chaddock’s rise through the cycling ranks in North America has been somewhat unconventional, and in addition to having overcome serious childhood asthma, he is also a relative latecomer to cycling, having discovered the sport while a student at Whitman University, after walking away from a career as a downhill ski racer with Olympic aspirations.
Now 28, Chaddock believes that both the experience of living with asthma and having been a top competitor in another sport prepared him well for the stresses of travel and training endured on the professional cycling circuit. "Sometimes I ask why, at the age of 28, I'm doing this; risking my life training, or risking a broken neck racing, and the answer is, really, because when I was younger I couldn't."
We spoke with Ben from his current training base in Palo Alto, California.
Canadian Cyclist: The folding of Team Exergy must have been a bit of a shock.
Ben Chaddock: Yes, it was definitely a disappointment. We didn't really know what was going on. We all had a really good experience there, it was good fun. The industry showed me a lot of support this week [after the announcement] after the news came out, so I feel really fortunate. Reflecting on my time at Exergy ... it was a really good experience, they got me into the industry and the sport, and there was no way I would have turned professional in the sport in 2011 if it wasn't for [the team]. What has happened in the last 12 months [in sponsor Exergy's industry] has been out of our control. We're just trying to race our bikes as best we can, but there are somethings that are just out of our control.
CC: It was pretty late in the year to be starting to look for a team.
BC: Yeah, exactly. This past week was definitely a rollercoaster between emotions, but very quickly, within 24 hours of the announcement, I had a few different teams calling me, and I really appreciate all of those organizations contacting me. Now I've made my decision and I'm looking forward to riding with Team SmartStop-Mountain Khakis in 2013.
It's really exciting to have a chance to develop on the road [racing] side of things, plus we have a large squad for the criteriums. There more of a road emphasis on this team. I'm hoping to do some mentoring off the bike, now that I have experience at a high level in two sports [Chaddock was an alpine skier with the BC provincial team and top-10 on the NorAm circuit before moving to cycling]
CC: What made you decide on this team rather than some of the other teams that were in contact?
BC: From my previous racing experiences I know this team a little better, I know the management and the riders, so making the move to them felt a little bit more comfortable, I'd be able to get incorporated with the team quicker.
I'm not making hundreds of thousands of dollars doing this [laughs], I could be using my degree instead [he has a degree in Environmental Economics], so this week I had to do a lot of soul searching, and ask myself why do I want to be a professional cyclist? It's not living a very financially secure life...
Fortunately, the team is going to be able to provide me with some security, which is awesome, but ultimately I had to make the decision: do I want to use my degree at this point in my life, now that I'm 28, or do I want to keep bike racing? It took four or five days to make the decision, but I decided that the whole reason that I am doing this is because of my kids foundation [B.I.K.E.S.]. If I'm not making much money and I'm racing my bike to inspire people, then I have to be happy. And I know this team and the riders, and I knew that there was a greater chance that I would be a happy bike rider here.
When I was young my asthma was uncontrolled, so I couldn't do athletics. So now that I have my asthma under control with the help of nutrition I can, so that's the most basic message of why I'm doing this. I'm using this message in my B.I.K.E.S. program; I now have over 1200 kids in the program, in U.S. and Canada. [Note: Links to the program are listed below]
CC: Have you discussed with the team what the goals are going to be for the season?
BC: One of first goals is going to be a stage at Redlands, and to do well at Joe Martin. In June we hope to do one of the big races like Philly or Keystone, we're waiting to find out. The team has given me permission to try to get on a composite Team Canada team for Beauce, so I'd like to ride Beauce and do a good preparation for it. So most of it is based around stage races. At the end of the season the team is hoping to do an international UCI stage race.
CC: What about Nationals? You have that national title to defend.
BC: Yes, that would be really nice, but it's not a primary goal like it was last year. This year I want to see what I can do focussing on road stage wins. The team runs a very long calendar, which gives us a chance to target a lot of races through the whole year. It's going to be fun.
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