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Interview: Eric Young 2011 USA Pro Criterium Champion
By Luke Allingham
Date: 12/17/2011
Interview: Eric Young 2011 USA Pro Criterium Champion

Interview: Eric Young 2011 USA Pro Criterium Champion
BISSELL Pro's 22 year old NeoPro left a lasting impression after his first year in the pro peloton...

Luke Allingham: How did you get started in cycling?

Eric Young: I started riding during my freshman year of college at Indiana University. I had been a runner and soccer player in high school and was looking for something new to compete in. Indiana U. has a very unique intramural cycling event called the Little 500, which was showcased in the famed cycling movie Breaking Away.

Anyway, I came in contact with one of the teams, The Cutters, and began riding with them. We won 3 Little 500's and this led to me racing over the summers as a cat 5 and 4 and I steadily moved up through the amateur ranks. In the fall of my senior year I began talking with Bissell and started racing as a professional after my graduation.

L.A.: You're the current USA Criterium Champion, that was a hell of a sprint by the way. Run us through a bit of what the race was like that day...

Eric Young: The USPro Crit was definitely my biggest result this year. The weather was crazy that day: started out nice and sunny, then it started raining and the wind picked up, and with only a few laps to go in the 80km race the officials stopped the race due to unsafe conditions.

Eric Young nips Brad Huff for the US Pro Criterium win.. Photo copyright Team BISSELL Pro

We restarted with 30 laps to go and it came down to a sprint finish. I went through the last corner in 3rd position, with Brad Huff of Jelly Belly and we both gave it everything out of the last corner. We were neck and neck the whole straight away and only in the last few meters I pulled in front of him and won by less then a bike length.

L.A.: How did you feel after you realized you had crossed the line first and won?

 Eric Young: I was obviously ecstatic that I had just won the USPro Crit in my first year, but I was also really happy because that is somewhat of a local race for my Bissell team. It was located in Grand Rapids, Michigan, which is where several of our main sponsors are based. So it was a very important race to the team and it worked out great!

The whole squad rode very well in the horrible conditions and I'm really happy that I was able to finish it for us.

L.A.: What was your Collegiate cycling experience like?

IEric Young: In collegiate cycling I raced for Indiana University, and it was an awesome experience.

 I graduated with a B.S. in Biology and a B.S. In Neuroscience. I definitely enjoyed my studies but over the 4 years, cycling became my true education and passion.

L.A.: During the 2010 season you won three Gold medals at Collegiate Track Nationals; how did that feel?

Eric Young: Winning a collegiate national championship is still a national championship! Also, the domestic pro teams really do look at collegiate racers for younger riders that are improving.

In 2010 I raced at the collegiate track nationals in Indianapolis, winning the points race, the match sprint, and the omnium after also placing 3rd in the kilo. That was an incredible weekend. It gave me the courage to believe that I could win on a big stage, and definitely set the tone for the 2011 road season.

Winning your first national championship is definitely an amazing feeling. Indiana University had a small group of motivated riders and we also had a huge amount of fun that weekend. The points race was the final event that weekend and I had to win in order to win the omnium, so there was a good amount of pressure.

But I love that kind of pressure and it worked out great! The whole team did very well and we placed 5th as a team, which we were very proud of.

L.A.: Would you recommend the Collegiate racing route to young riders who have ambitions to  go pro in the future?

Eric Young: If you are a person that is interested in getting a degree and racing your bike, it's definitely the best option. And you can also race during the summer with your normal trade team. Collegiate racing is a great chance to prove yourself in a developmental setting while still being exposed to some very talented riders.

L.A.: Do you enjoy track racing; do you have any ambitions to race track during the 2012 season?

Eric Young: I really do enjoy track racing, as it is so different from the road. I would love to be able to compete at track nationals this year in the endurance events, but I'll have to wait and see if it fits my schedule towards the end of the season.

L.A.: Describe yourself as a person and as a cyclist?

Eric Young: As a cyclist i would say that I am a sprinter that still has a lot to learn in the sport and I'm very excited to do so!

L.A.: Your thoughts on team BISSELL and your NeoPro season?

BISSELL had a great year in 2011! We won the overall team ranking in the NRC, the USPro crit, a few other NRC races, and were prominent in all the major US stage races.

Very successful year. I had a ton of fun with the riders, staff, and sponsors throughout the year: I don't think I could have hoped for a better NeoPro season. And we'll be looking to build on that success in 2012!

Any races that you would like to take another shot at for a win or you would like to race during 2012?

Eric Young: My biggest goals for 2012 include the Tour of California, Philly, and the USPro crit.

Who do you consider to be your biggest domestic rivals in the sprints finishes for the 2012 season?

Eric Young: As for rivals, anyone can have a good day, so I think anyone not wearing a Bissell jersey is a rival!

L.A.: You're currently 22, what are you ambitions for the near and distant future,

Eric Young: I'm definitely still new to the sport and learning lots at each race. However, I do have long term aspirations of racing in Europe at the highest level as well as competing for the US and the world championships and the Olympics. Those goals are a long way off though; so I'm going to concentrate on this year and hope for the best.

 L.A.: On your rider profile page on Team Bissell's website you list the Tour of Elk Grove as your favorite races, can you tell us why that is your favorite race?

Eric Young: Elk Grove was one of the races I did well in as an amateur, as well as it is near my hometown of Geneva, Illinois.

L.A.: Any hobbies that you enjoy doing off the bike or do to relax?

Eric Young: I like to go hiking, camping, skiing, and snowshoeing in the off season; anything that involves being outside with friends or family.

Follow Eric on his Website
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2011 USA Cycling Pro Criterium National Championship
2012 Bissell Pro Cycling Team Announced

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