Despite being a relatively new team on the scene, Aevolo have quickly begun to distinguish themselves as one of the best Development teams in America, attracting some of the biggest talents in America and Mexico to their roster. Tyler Stites is one such rider, with the 19 year old having just finished his first season at U23 level, where he raced some of America’s biggest events, as well as getting to head across the pond to Europe to race for his national team, a big achievement for a first year U23. He has already produced results and will be one to watch, especially in the domestic scene, for 2018.
The Aevolo youngster took some time out of his offseason winter training to answer a few exclusive questions from U23 Cycling Zone about his big season, as well as alluding to some future goals.
“The 2017 season was a learning experience for me. It was a big step up from the juniors and the first few races were really tough. I felt myself improving a lot as the season progressed,” Tyler revealed.
The Green and Yellow squad has had a successful first season, sending two riders on to top US Pro teams. Plenty of their roster from 2017 attracted attention from big teams, but they have opted for another season with Aevolo. Tyler spoke about his team and the way they so successfully develop riders.
“Aevolo has a great atmosphere for developing young riders such as myself, with lots of opportunities and not too much pressure. Despite being a new team, Aevolo has incredible support and stability which goes a long way to promote the growth of young riders.”
Tyler, despite admitting he struggled in the first few races of his U23 career, got off to a flying start in the UCI races he did, being selected for both Joe Martin stage race and Tour of the Gila. He followed that up with two impressive showings in Canada at GP Sagueny and at Tour de Beauce, where he was 13th overall. For perspective, six riders in the top 12 ahead of Tyler were at least 20 at the time of the race, the only rider Tyler’s age was his own teammate Gage Hecht, who is just a month older than Tyler.
He rounded out his season in Europe with Team USA (more on that later) and with a great ride again north of the border in Canada, at the country’s biggest race, the Tour of Alberta. Stites was a little far down on the stage one summit finish, but bounced back to take 14th, tenth and 16th in the following three sprints. His teammate Michael Hernandez was 4th, 9th and 6th in those sprints. Tyler confessed he wasn’t leading Hernandez but, but that Michael was the protected rider in those races and Tyler was following him, trying to learn from his older teammate. After his good season, Tyler attributed his quick adaptation and growth at the U23 level to his team and their head DS, a former race mastermind at SmartStop, who masterminded a famous 1-2 for his small team at the US National Road Race a few seasons back.
“I attribute my progress in 2017 to the support from Aevolo, and the guidance from our DS, Mike Creed. His years of experience and uncanny foresight of how each race would unfold were very valuable in helping us understand bike races better.”
Just before Alberta, Tyler had the honour of being picked for Team USA to race the tough Tour of Alsace in France, along with the aforementioned Hernandez. The USA boys got off to a flyer, winning the team prologue for team leader Brandon McNulty. Tyler wasn’t able to finish the race, but his work for the week was brilliant as McNulty wound up finishing 3rd overall on GC. Tyler certainly gained experience, one of which came on the first road stage, which finished atop the steep climb of Planche des Belles Filles, a climb that has been won atop in the Tour de France by three Grand Tour winners: Chris Froome, Vincenzo Nibali and Fabio Aru.
“Racing up Planche des Belles Filles was an incredible experience. It was only a few weeks after the Tour de France raced up it, which made it even cooler. The final pitch up to the finish was a lot steeper than it looked on TV!”
Tyler is certainly not a pure climber, but he has more than shown an ability to get over hills and still be very fast at the end. Despite not having a lot of experience at U23 level, he knows exactly what races suit him.
“I like the hard circuit races with short, punchy climbs that slowly thin down the field lap after lap.”
As a team, Aevolo have the goal of adding to their list of big stage races in the US, taking aim at the Colorado Classic and Tour of Utah. After making the roster for Joe Martin, Gila and Alberta, Tyler’s big 2018 goal is to make the rosters for Utah and Colorado should his team receive the call-up to race.
“In 2018 I have a goal to race some of the bigger US races like Utah and Colorado. This is a big team goal for Aevolo so being part of that would be great. I think in 2017 we proved we deserve a shot at those races after a strong showing at Tour of Alberta.”
As a rider who can get over punchy climbs well, but still be able to produce big power in the sprint after hard days, there is one clear pro race that should suit Tyler. Therefore, it was not surprising that he picked his favourite race when asked which pro race he would love to win one day.
“I have always dreamed of winning Liege-Bastogne-Liege. It is my favorite race to watch, it is always exciting.”
Tyler Stites and Aevolo are both young and still developing, but the team is full of riders to watch and will get better and better every season. Tyler is definitely one of those riders to keep an eye on for 2018, as he has all the qualities to star in both US races and across the ocean in Europe.
U23 Cycling Zone would like to thank Tyler for taking part in the interview and wish him all the best for the coming season and beyond. We would also like to thank Aevolo press officer Clara Beard for helping put U23 Cycling Zone in contact with Tyler. You can follow the team on Twitter at @Aevolo_Cycling and you can keep up to date with Tyler’s progress at @tylerstites1.