Clay County is hosting the 2021 USA Cycling Amateur Road Nationals. It returns after being put on pause last year due to the pandemic.
19-year-old Aidan McNeil started cycling competitively four years ago after doing soccer and swimming in high school.
“It’s a brutal sport. Especially for these super long road races that take four or five to six hours and you’re just pedaling the whole time absolutely exhausted and you know you’re trying to win,” McNeil said.
The California native joined Aevolo, a professional cycling team founded in 2017. The team’s goal is to help develop the skills of young athletes who want to eventually compete with bigger teams in Europe.
Action News Jax’s Alicia Tarancon caught up with cyclists during their training for the 2021 Amateur Road Nationals.
The event is taking place this year at Camp Blanding and Fleming Island.
Last year USA Cycling canceled the championship in Clay County due to COVID-19.
USA Cycling was worried it wouldn’t be safe enough for social distancing with large crowds of spectators expected so it was moved to 2021.
Missing out on a year is what makes athletes like McNeil push even harder. ”Its kind of stressful sometimes, especially when you’re in a pack of over a hundred guys and you’re just bumping shoulders with guys all around you and everyone’s moving and you’re going at 30 plus miles per hour. It’s a bit scary but it’s fun,” McNeil said.
He told Tarancon his biggest dream is for his father, a former professional cyclist, to see him one day make it to the Olympics.
“My dad, he got second at the Olympic trials but he never got to go to the Olympics. That would make him really happy and it would make me really happy just to go to the Olympics,” McNeil said.
The time trial is Thursday, the road race is on Friday and Saturday, and the criterium is on Sunday.
For more information on USA Cycling, click here.
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