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American Cycling Team Targets AFCC

Thomas Craven Interview

On June 3 & 4, the American Cycling Team will take to the line at the Armed Forces Cycling Classic. We asked team boss Thomas Craven a few questions about what to look forward to…

Listen Live to the AFCC here:

1. Please introduce yourself and give us a little background on you and your team.

My name is Thomas Craven and I am the Chief Sports Director of the American Cycling Team. I’ve been involved in criterium bike racing for 41 years, since I was 15 years old.   We had a bike race in front of my house and my family hosted some riders. I was a bit hesitant at first but once I saw the speed, the skill and the fun those guys had I started planning for my debut. I  saved up enough money by mowing grass, working in food service and general saving to buy my first racing bike.  A Melton frame with all Campagnolo Nuovo Record parts with Arc en Ciel 36 hole rims and Clement Criterium tires with Pink Bennotto smooth handlebar tape. It took a while but I was hooked on that bike and the sport.

Since then I have raced all over the world as either a member of Schwinn/Wheaties, 7-Eleven, Chevrolet LA Sheriffs or as a Director for 10 years with the Hincapie Professional Racing Team.

This year with American Cycling we are strictly a Criterium team that is loosely based out of Florida by way of Greenville SC. The team was started by Michael Hernandez and myself to continue what we started last year with a Florida Based team BBR. I really just enjoy getting to the races, prepping for the events & experiencing the highs and the lows.  I am learning from the riders as well as teaching them the basics of race strategy, travel and how to just have some fun. We have a strong latin influence on the team so I am slowly learning some Spanish and it’s great to see more riders coming from Venezuela, Columbia and Mexico to find a place on the teams in the USA.

2. What’s your history with this the AFCC and what do you think makes this race unique from other races?

The Armed Forces Classic is great because it’s 2 days, 2 courses, and 2 different types of riders can do well here. Sure its somewhat flat but with the turns and the distance on the 2nd day it makes for a more challenging race. Conservation and strength play a vital part of both days.  The crowds are great… I love to see folks have brunch, a marg, and watch a bike race through the weekend. The fact that this happens every year for the last 25 is truly a testament to Rob, it’s not easy to get one of these started but I think Clarendon is probably counting on him doing it every year now.  It’s more than a race… it’s a happening at this point.

3. Any special memories or stories from racing here in the past?

I have never raced this one personally, surprisingly. So last year is my only reference… It’s hot, it’s hard and it’s a waiting game on both days. Typically both races are decided in the last quarter of the race. We will see a breakaway on Sunday so I am excited for some good racing.

I know that last year after the Sunday race my guys all went down to the capital to see the Jefferson Memorial,  Washington monument on e-bikes and road around all night… I only found out from Instagram.

4. Goals for the weekend – what do you and the team hope to achieve?

We are coming into the weekend after some time off… so first goal it to get everyone here. With flights and travel so whacky these days that is a win right there.  2nd goal is to put our team in the position to win. I look at the first day as the ice breaker to the Leg breaker on Sunday. I would like to see us podium on both days with a win on at least one.

5.  What would you say to riders and fans who haven’t seen this race before? 

Eat 4 hours before the race, start half full and start fueling up as soon as it starts. With the amount of turns and the intensity of the course you can easily start to feel bad quick if you don’t have your nutrition/hydration right ‘.  I’ll be on the course with cold bottles for my guys and I would expect to hand out 50 or so during the race.  The race is decided in the second half typically.  However… it is a bike race and although history tells you one thing, it can always change quickly that’s what makes the sport so challenging. Just when you think you have it figured out #Boom the break goes from the gun and you are sitting there looking at your stem for 2 hours wondering WTF just happened.


Follow the American Cycling team at https://www.instagram.com/american.cycling/



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