Two months ago when we chatted with Spencer Petrov about missing U.S. Cyclocross Nationals while recovering from a knee injury, he hinted there was something big on the horizon for him this spring.
That something big is the 21-year-old will be racing on the road for the Hincapie – LEOMO p/b BMC Continental Road team this coming season. Petrov moves to the Hincapie – LEOMO p/b BMC team after three years racing with the CCB Foundation development program.
Petrov’s team, which is the continuation of the Hincapie Cycling program, is a Continental Road team registered in the United States, but it will be based in Girona, Spain and race a European-heavy schedule.
“I’ve had that experience over the last three years with my team, CCB, which was amazing experience,” Petrov said. “Racing in Europe was something that was very important to the director, Tim Mitchell, getting us American experience plus taking us over to Europe for that racing. I think that was super important for my development.”
The Hincapie LEOMO p/b BMC team is a split pro and U23 team, with 5 U23 riders among the 12-rider roster. Petrov has experienced success beyond his years, but he will still be a U23 rider this coming road season.
“There are some really exciting U23 high-level events that we’ll be able to go and represent the team,” he said. “That’s super exciting to be able to race against people our own age. I love the UCI pro racing on the road, but it’s really nice to get some of that U23 UCI racing in that are high level because it’s less getting the teeth kicked in sometimes.”
Although we here at Cyclocross Magazine best know Petrov for his impressive cyclocross success that was recently punctuated by his U23 National Championship in Louisville in 2018, the young Ohio native has always been one to take advantage of the opportunities presented to him as he has come up in the sport.
“I’ve kind of balanced both cyclocross and road, and I think they really help each other a lot. And then this was a great opportunity and I’ve always loved the road and a door opened,” Petrov explained. “That’s kind of where we’re things are leading for me right now. I am really excited to have this opportunity.”
Although racing for the new program represents a new home for the rider who has been with the CCB Foundation team for the last three years, that does not mean his new surroundings will be completely new. The Hincapie program has supported a Junior team for a number of years, and Petrov raced for that team when he was younger.
“It’s kind of a homecoming for me. And to be a part of the pro program is really, really special. There’s one thing, the Junior program is amazing. Hats off to George and Kathy and everyone there for doing that, because cycling is a very hard sport to get into. And that team has been very influential in a lot of racer’s lives.”
Team director Thomas Craven explained that Petrov’s time with the Junior program and subsequent cyclocross success helped put him on the team’s radar for this opportunity.
“Spence was one of our Junior riders that Junior team director Rusty Miller put on our radar a few years ago,” Craven said. “I saw that he really kicked ass in cyclocross; that type of power and that type of training goes perfectly with my philosophy of getting guys better because they don’t just go out and lay down senseless road miles all the time. Mentally and physically they aren’t all tired out and burnt out from three years of being on the Tour de France track that so many young guys gravitate towards.”
The Hincapie LEOMO p/b BMC team has an ambitious European schedule planned for Petrov and his teammates. The team will be racing some one-day races in its adopted home of Spain in March before taking on the Tour of Normandy at the end of next month.
“The type of races that we will be doing should suit his style and build,” Craven said about the team’s schedule. “One of the first events we will be doing is the Tour of Normandy in Northern France. It’s just as you would think—hard, wet, cold, windy—up and down—totally fun.”
Road racing is obviously a bit different than cyclocross in the team aspect of things. Still coming off the knee injury that sidelined the end of his cyclocross season, Petrov talked about his expectations for fitting in with his new team.
“When we get to U23 specific races, some races will suit me better than others,” he said. “I’m there to be a team player wherever I can. I’m really excited to be a part of a really cohesive team and to provide support when I can. I’m still on the younger end being one of the U23s and so learning from some of the other riders who were on Hincapie before or who have been pro for a while is going to be an important part of this process.”
Although he is headed to the road in Europe, Petrov’s social media handle is still SpencerCX1 and his past results suggest there is plenty of cyclocross success to come in his future if he continues to race. Petrov said, for him, taking advantage of opportunities is what is most important to him at this point in his career.
“I’ve been extremely blessed and having those opportunities coming up for ´cross and road now to have a team that’s going to take me in there full time, this is now moving up to the big leagues, truthfully,” Petrov said. “And so I’m really, really excited about that.”