Rincon/University senior Tyler Stites was selected by USA Cycling to be part of Team USA and he is now competing for the Junior National Team in Europe. Stites left for the Czech Republic on April 29 and will return on May 23, in time for graduation.
“I got involved with cycling when I was 12 years old, when I joined Tucson’s local cycling club for kids, El Grupo Youth Cycling Team,” Stites explained. “At first I struggled with cycling, I was overweight and had little natural talent. Over time, I worked hard and got better. By the time I was 15 I had improved enough that I could hold my own in races.
“When I was 16, I headed over to Europe with USA cycling for the first time. It was an eye-opening experience for me, as I saw the level needed to compete with the best in Europe. When I was 17 I went on two separate month-long trips to Europe, once in the spring and again in the summer. The racing experience I gained was very valuable. This year, I put that experience to use and had a very successful spring racing season in the US. As a result, I was invited to race in the Czech Republic for the US National team in the Course de la Paix, also known as the Peace Race.”
Team USA won the Course de la Paix.
“This four-day stage race is commonly referred to as the hardest junior race in the world. The junior national teams of France, Denmark, Belgium, Netherlands, Austria, Slovenia, Croatia, Italy, and Slovakia, among many others competed. Some say that just finishing the Peace Race is a large accomplishment, never mind the placing. Not only was I able to finish, I was also able to help my teammate win the whole race. Many people don’t realize that cycling is a team sport. It was very satisfying to be able to help my teammate win the Peace Race,” Stites added.
Stites, along with teammates Cameron Beard (Bend, Ore./Team Specialized Racing) and Adrien Costa (Bend, Ore./Axeon Hagens Berman), reached the podium with the USA Cycling Development Program last weekend in France, Belgium and the Netherlands.
“The big race is now over, but I am still over here for two more weeks. During this time, I will be training and preparing for another stage race in Holland from May 20 through 22.”
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Andy Morales was recognized by the AIA as the top high school reporter in 2014 and has been a youth, high school and college coach for over 30 years. His own children have won multiple state high school championships and were named to all-state teams. Competing in hockey, basketball, baseball and track & field in high school, his unique perspective can only be found here, on AZPreps365.com and on the pages of the Vail Voice and the Tanque Verde Voice. Contact Andy Morales at AMoralesMyTucson@yahoo.com