Laurel Rathbun’s 2015 Raleigh Clement racing schedule will coordinate with her Marian University racing commitments. © Marshall Kappel

Laurel Rathbun’s 2015 Raleigh Clement racing schedule will coordinate with her Marian University racing commitments. © Marshall Kappel

Last Monday, Lance Haidet took control of most of the early goings of the Junior Men’s Race, surprising the crowd by dictating the pace over the pre-race favorite Gage Hecht. An unfortunate mechanical took him out of the running for first, but Haidet left his mark on the race. Laurel Rathbun, an 18-year-old rider, threw her name in with the Elite Racers in the penultimate race of Monday, taking a top-30 on the muddy course.

What do these riders have in common? Both will be on the Raleigh Clement Professional Cycling Team’s U23 Development Program, geared around cyclocross and mountain biking. The goals and details of the program were provided below by Raleigh Clement.

Kent, Washington and Denver, Colorado – January 16, 2015 – The Raleigh Clement Professional Cycling Team is moving forward with an under-23 development program built around two riders.

Eighteen year-old Laurel Rathbun, who raced cyclocross with the team for the 2014-15 season, will compete in mountain bike and shorter gravel events as well as cyclocross. Lance Haidet is a new addition to the squad and is seventeen years-old. He will race with Raleigh Clement in mountain bike and cyclocross contests while he continues with the Bear Development Team on the road.

“Working together, Clement Cycling and Raleigh Bicycles want to make sure we have a long term development structure in place to bring American riders through to the top ranks of the sport,” says team manager Donn Kellogg. “The team has a great track record of helping riders advance to a higher level, first with Allen Krughoff and then Erica Zaveta through the Amy D. Racing program. Now we’re going to take advantage of that experience to assist U23 riders in preparing for success in the elite category.”

A cornerstone of the development program will be guidance provided by returning Raleigh Clement Professional Cycling Team elite riders Jamey Driscoll and Caroline Mani who each claimed a top spot in the 2014-15 USA Cycling Pro CX standings. “The knowledge they’ve gained by completing their studies while also competing at the highest level will greatly benefit these two highly gifted young athletes,” says Kellogg.

Haidet’s victory in November’s junior 17-18 UCI race at the Derby City Cup in Louisville, Kentucky attracted Kellogg’s attention.

“What hit me about Lance was his poise on the bike, the way he pedaled, and how he handled himself to take the win out of a group of four,” says Kellogg. “By supporting him now we can help him build up as he moves from juniors to U23 because he’s going to be a young U23.”

The Bend, Oregon resident started cycling at age three on a pedal-less balance bike. Haidet moved on to mountain bike and cyclocross racing at age twelve and has collected Oregon state junior titles in both cycling disciplines. The victory in Louisville and at CXLA in November helped secure his second place overall in this season’s USAC Pro CX junior men’s standings. As a trainee in the USAC cyclocross development program he gathered racing experience in Europe and will represent the U.S. at the 2015 UCI Cyclo-cross World Championships in Tabor, Czech Republic.

“I am very excited to be part of the Raleigh Clement Professional Cycling Team going into my first year as a U23 rider,” says Haidet. “The new focus on supporting young riders in their elite program will give me the opportunity to excel as a developing racer, and is an example of Raleigh Clement’s commitment to investing in the future of cyclocross.”

Lance Haidet leading the junior men’s 17-18 field at 2015 USA Cycling Cyclo-cross National Championships. © Dave McElwaine

Lance Haidet leading the junior men’s 17-18 field at 2015 USA Cycling Cyclo-cross National Championships. © Dave McElwaine

Kellogg discovered Rathbun while reviewing applications with the Amy D. Foundation from women interested in becoming the first Amy D. Racing rider.

“What stood out about Laurel were two key components that I believe are critical to cyclocross success: starts and power,” notes Kellogg. “I watched her take the field out from the line in one local senior cat 1 criterium and handily win another criterium. Her experience and results as a young pursuit rider told me she had the necessary power.”

A former Colorado state cyclocross junior champion, Rathbun also earned national titles in track and road disciplines as a junior. Her first national championship came in triathlon which she took up at age seven. She lives in Monument, Colorado.

Rathbun made steady progress with the team during the cyclocross season and finished as high as second in an elite women’s UCI race at the North Carolina Grand Prix. She placed third in the inaugural Pan Am Continental Cyclo-cross Championships women’s U23 category.

“I love being part of the Raleigh Clement team,” Rathbun says. “It’s really nice to see a big team like Raleigh Clement take such a high interest in young development riders like Lance and me. It really gives us the opportunity to step it up and race at the next level. I hope more teams follow suit.”

Both riders are currently students and Kellogg is working with them as well as their parents and schools to sketch out appropriate racing schedules together with short and long-term goals. Haidet attends high school. Rathbun studies and races collegiately at Marian University.

In addition to Haidet, Rathbun, Driscoll, and Mani, Raleigh Clement Professional Cycling Team’s full 2015 roster includes mountain biker Fernando Riveros. Single speed specialist Craig Etheridge also returns to the team and will serve as a mentor, sharing in particular his canny ability to find the win. These riders will be joined by the next Amy D. Racing competitor and another male racer to be announced in the coming weeks.