1996 was my make or break year in cycling. I decided focus on the “Fresca Cup” which was a national race series for riders without pro contracts. My strategy was to race as many of these races as I could, place well in them, and finish somewhere in the top 10 overall. It was an ambitious goal and one that I thought would help me to secure a pro contract.
In the late summer of 1996, I was back in southern Vermont for my six or seventh Killington Stage Race. I had lost count of how many times I had done it. Killington was the first multi-day stage race I ever did. In 1988, I raced it as a junior. I finished in fourth place, behind George Hincapie who won it, then went on to do some great things on the bike and some not so great things to get there.
Just a few days before, I had finished the Tour de ‘Toona — four days of racing and 15 hours in the car driving to western Pennsylvania and back – and I was lining up again for another 5-day, 577 km stage race. I had barely recovered. If at all.
I was still sitting in the top-5 in the Fresca Cup series, hoping my position would hold and that it would be enough to ensure next season. Thus far I had gotten no offers nor any interest. ‘Toona had been a good race. I had some top finishes, something to notice, and keeping the momentum at Killington was critical.