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Photo: Casey B. Gibson




July 2nd, 2017

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Make them work. Create the race. That was the Aevolo team goal lining up for the Under 23 National Road Championship in Louisville, Ky this past Friday. From Michael Hernandez spending the majority of the day in the break, to Gage Hecht bridging across and eventually finishing second, all the champs knew they had it in them to dictate how the scenario played out, and together they achieved exactly that.

“I’m just so amazed and excited to have this opportunity (to podium). Being my first year in the U23’s it’s definitely pretty exciting,” Hecht said after the 177 km race.

In the opening laps of the 23 lap race, Hernandez found himself in a three up break with Miguel Byron (Holowesko) and Neilson Powless (Axeon). The three got an advantage of 2 minutes while the peloton splintered behind them.

After Willem Kaiser (Gateway Harley) and Brendan Rhim went across to the leaders, a chase of 17 riders developed. From there, Hecht stuck to the attacking Axeon riders, Will Barta and Jonny Brown, like glue.

“Mike (Creed, director) got on the radio and told us to be looking for attacks from Axeon. I didn’t really expect it to go anywhere,” Hecht said. “It’s typically unusual for the field to let two riders from the same team. It ended up working out pretty well. I think everyone was just really tired. We had been working hard all day.”

Hecht latched on to their wheels and worked with Axeon to get the chase established, then backed off to let the teammates share the bulk of the pace making until they bridged to the five leaders.

“I felt confident with the move,” Hecht said. “After we caught Hernandez and the others I sat on for a lap or so. Then the Axeon kids exchanged attacks.”

Hernandez said the pace was always hard in the break, with Powless never letting up each time up the main climb.

“It was cool to be up there, throwing down with probably one of the best U23 guys in the world,” Hernandez said.

On the last lap, the group was down to three: Hecht and Rhim, who worked together to keep an attacking Powless at bay.

With 1 km to go, Brown clawed his way back to the three leaders on the main climb to lead out Powless. Hecht grabbed the wheel and did his best to come around at the sprint.

The weekend isn’t over yet. Tomorrow (July 2), the team will start the U23 Criterium National Championships in downtown Louisville where they plan to come out swinging yet again.

“I’m pretty confident,” Hernandez said. “We have a good team, everyone is riding strong. We have a lot of cards to play.”

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