Rider Interview: After a year of… not much due to covid, US rider Eamon Lucas is back in Belgium and looking forward to more wins and a professional contract. Ed Hood catches up with Eamon from his Belgian base in Brugge to hear about life since pre-covid lockdown.
Back in Belgium
It was March 2019 when PEZ soothsayer, mentor and kermis guru, Vik alerted us to an American dude burning up the kasseien in the Flatlands of Flanders, one Eamon Lucas by name. The Californian is a versatile man; he was on the US junior squad, is strong against the watch, has ridden ‘fixie crits,’ stage races and season 2019 saw Heartland wins in, Maldegem-Kleit, Izegem, Oostrozebeke, Osstkamp, Langemark, Marke and Eermegem. We duly, ‘had a word’ with the man.
His winning streak continued through the season, generating interest from several professional teams, a pro contract looked likely for season 2020 – then along came Covid and in common with riders all over the world, at all but the highest level of the sport there were no races for him to ride. But the man is back, newly married, with even bigger hair; and he’s serious, complete with wife, pooch and all their worldly possessions he’s returned to Belgium with just one goal – to sign a professional contract.
More wins on the way
Time for another chat we figured:
PEZ: Season 2019 was a good one, Eamon with numerous good wins in Flanders but the last thing you said to us back then was; ‘Season 2019 is about signing a Pro Contract, end of story,’ what happened?
Eamon Lucas: Yeah, 2019 was a kick ass year, I had good results and ended up doing testing at the Mapei Sports Centre in Italy and returned my best numbers ever. I was on the radar with the Cofidis and Trek teams; I just needed to post some more good results at the start of 2020.
PEZ: But in 2020 along came Covid?
Yeah, I came back to Europe on February 16th and performed strongly both individually and for the team in the five races I rode – then came the pandemic and I had to pack up shop and head back home to the US. The Belgian Federation wasn’t allowing foreign riders to participate due to the regulations covering Covid.
PEZ: How has your preparation over the winter of 20/21 gone?
It’s been really productive; I stopped early in 2020 with less volume in August and September then had October off.
In November I reconnected with Neal Henderson of Apex Coaching and Consulting, he coached me when I was u23, he’s a highly respected coach; among his results is preparing Rohan Denis for his successful world hour record attempt in 2015; he also coaches Sam Bennett. I’ve put in 8,200 kilometres since November 1st 2020, gone vegan and am feeling good – very much ready to race! I’m in Bruges right now with my wife Marissa and Gimli, our Yorkshire Terrier so I’m serious about what I need to do this year.
PEZ: How was travel from the US to Europe during these crazy times?
It was pretty smooth, we had a test 72 hours before our flight then a rapid test at the airport before we boarded with four suitcases, two back packs, two bike bags and a dog!
Ready for the season
PEZ: And Bruges is home now?
They call it ‘Brugge’ here, but yes and we’re within 100 metres of the square which features in the movie; so it’s one bad ass location!
PEZ: Are you back with the Shifting Gears team?
Yeah – it’s a Specialized Concept Store here in Bruges and we have a strong line up; I was out riding with my team mates yesterday. I was with them in 2019 when I had my best results, it was a strong team with guys like Hans Dekkers who was with Garmin and Landbouwkrediet. I get a salary, bikes, clothes, nutrition. . . But I’m allowed my own personal sponsors – Oakley, Clif Bar and Polar watches – a wonderful network of support.
Riding for the USA
PEZ: Who are your other training partners?
Timothy Dupont of Bingoal Wallonie Bruxelles, your readers would probably remember him from winning Nokere Koerse a couple of year ago; then there’s Johan Jacobs from Movistar who’s Swiss but is based in Belgium and Johan Museeuw’s son, Stefano who’s with BEAT Cycling. Most of the Deceuninck guys live within 30 kilometres of here, I’ve met up with Yves Lampaert and Tim Declerq – that dude is a machine!
PEZ: Give us an insight into your training.
Last week was pretty ruthless, 22 hour, 700 kilometres [that’s 31.8 kph average, ed] it rained every day and it was windy and cold – but if you don’t like the Flanders lifestyle then best go home. . .
PEZ: How’s the 2021 race programme looking.
I’d like to tell you more about it but I’ll know better at the start of April, things begin to ease off then, for example, indoor dining will be allowed again. I think people here in Belgium have been respectful of the government restrictions; it was like that back home in Monterey, too – but in LA and San Francisco I think things were a little more ‘gnarly.’
PEZ: Will there be time for any of those, ‘fixie crits’ in your schedule?
If I have a week open in my schedule and there’s one to be ridden in France, Italy or maybe the UK then sure, it’d be fun.
After race interview in Belgium
PEZ: Why keep coming back to the wind and rain, leaving that California sun and surf behind?
It’s the dream, man; paying the bills by riding the bike and I’m still on the trail of that elusive dream, a contract with a professional team. I have the numbers and here, I have the opportunity.
PEZ: Do you have an agent to help with the pursuit of that dream?
I don’t have an agent but I have folks in my corner and this April the chase starts all over again.
Lucas wins in Izegem
# Vik will be monitoring Eamon’s progress, always good to see a young man, ‘just doing it.’ And Vik and I hope to get back to the Flatlands later in the year and have a beer with the man. #