RaceMill Collegiate: USA Cycling Nationals - University of Colorado Cycling Team

CU Cycling Coach Jeff Winkler leads a deep squad to make some noise in Asheville, NC

We recently caught up with Coach Jeff Winkler to learn more about the USA Cycling “Varsity” level University of Colorado Cycling team.  Coach Winkler is a USAC Level 1 Licensed Coach and has been involved in the competitive cycling since 1986. He’s also no stranger to the top of the podium having been there as the Collegiate National Road Champ in 1993.  He led the Buffs to the 2015 Rocky Mountain Collegiate Cycling Conference against state rival Fort Lewis and has been one of the driving forces behind the success of this program that claims title to 60 individual National Champions and 12 Team Event National titles.  Jeff leads one of his deepest squads to Asheville to battle the best in the country and to hopefully claim some hardware. 

RM: It looks like you had a great finish to the season in the Rocky Mountain Conference.  Does this give you extra confidence for the team heading into Nationals?
JW: Not really, the conference season is a different type of competition. Conference is all about depth and participation. CU was able to field lots of strong riders in all the categories. This team effort led to our conference title. Conversely, Nationals is all about head-to-head competition between the best A riders in the country. While our As had a great season, you can never be overly confident because you haven't gone toe-to-toe with the strong teams from around the country.

RM: How does this squad compare to teams in the past? How many racers are going, what are your strengths?
JW: We are sending 14 riders, which is a little larger than in years past. We've had some strong squads in the past, especially when looking at particular individuals. This year's squad is deep, perhaps one of the deepest squads we've had for several years. I think we are well-rounded with riders ready to perform well in a variety of circumstances.

RM: Who do you expect to be the toughest teams and individuals racing in Asheville?
JW: It is difficult to predict. You always know that Marian and Fort Lewis will bring strong squads. Generally, I anticipate every varsity program should be able to field a strong squad. Additionally, there is always other teams that must be respected. Northern California is a usually a strong region: Stanford and UC Davis have a tradition of strong teams.  Individuals are an even bigger wildcard. There are always very strong riders who have decided to attend schools that don't typically have strong teams. If USA Cycling ranked collegiate riders in their ranking system it would certainly help to evaluate competitors you don't get to see face-to-face.
RM: Do you feel the sport of College Cycling is growing? Do you expect cycling to grow as a college varsity sport? 
JW: I hope it is. There are some things that need to be reconfigured to keep things moving in the right direction. That said, I think collegiate cycling is where attention should be applied and there is no reason why it can't be developed into the primary development path to the professional ranks. It is certainly the responsible choice because it provides potential professional cyclists an education to fall back on if they are unable to create a career on the bike.

RM: Does being in one of the endurance sports hubs of the country make it easier to recruit athletes to join the team?
JW: Boulder is a natural draw for endurance and mountain sports. Arguably, it is the only reason we remain competitive against schools that actively recruit and provide financial support to their athletes.

RM: Do you have a team mantra or rallying cry?
JW: Go Buffs!

RM: How do you think the venue in Asheville fits the team compared to your base in Colorado?
JW: Hard to say until we see the courses. Obviously, we are ready for the elevation in Asheville and any climbing in the courses.

RM: Do you have a favorite place to take the team to train?  Do you do a team training camp in a special location?
JW: Boulder is hard to beat. And, we don't have the financial resources to do a team training camp in another location.

RM: Do you have any sponsors or special people you would like to thank?
JW: We'd like to thank ALL our sponsors:  Boulder Cycle Sport, Skratch Labs, Amante Coffee, Panache Cyclewear, Yellowbelly Chicken, Smith Optics, Feedback Sports, Clement Tires, WD-40 Bike.

RM: Thanks Jeff and Go Buffs!

2015 USA Cycling Road Nationals CU Roster
BROWN, Garrett (Sr) Hometown: Grand Junction, Colorado 
CHANCE, Maxx (Fr) Hometown: Boulder, Colorado. Studying Business. 
GOLEMBIESKI, Bill (Sr) Hometown: Brewerton, New York. Integrative Physiology / Computer Science
GRANIGAN, Noah (Fr) Hometown: Cape May Court House, New Jersey. Studying Mechanical Engineering. 
PETERSON, Colt (Jr) Hometown: Boulder, Colorado. Studying Communication. 
REYNOLDS, Lang (Grad) Hometown: Seattle, Washington. Studying Business with emphasis in Finance (MBA) 
STEPHENS, Austin (Sr) Hometown: Huntington Beach, California Studying Business Operations. 
SZLENDAK, Andre (Jr) Hometown: Fort Collins, Colorado. Studying Mechanical Engineering. 
BOBECK, Jessica (Sr) Hometown: Boulder, Colorado. Studying Geography. Pursuing MA in Geography in the Fall. 
BREWER, Mollie (Grad) Hometown: High Point, North Carolina. Studying Integrative Physiology with emphasis in exercise science. 
CARTEE, Katie (Sr) Hometown: Anchorage, Alaska. Integrative Physiology, pre-med 
DAVID, Sabrina (Grad) Hometown: Boulder, Colorado. PhD student in Materials Science and Engineering. 
HEINZ, Marta (Sr) Hometown: Colorado Springs, Colorado. Studying International Affairs and European History. 
LUNSKY, Samantha (Sr) Hometown: Frisco, Colorado. Studying Integrative Physiology

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