BEING PRO: Richard Holec

An up and coming U23 racer

Team: TopForex-LaPierre

Hometown: Murrieta, California

Age: 19

Although you’re Czechoslovakian and have spent a lot of time racing in Europe, you now live in Southern California. How does that schedule work for you?

It’s been pretty challenging, and I’m changing it for the upcoming season. Last year I spent the first two to three months in California doing warm-up races like Chico and San Dimas before I headed over to Europe for mountain bike races and Paris-Roubaix. Then, I flew back to California to chill and prepare for the remainder of the year that would consist of mainly stage races and the European and World Championships. Traveling with bikes, dealing with time change and staying healthy upon arrival is a race by itself. I do everything possible to prevent sickness. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work all the time. I ended up racing Roubaix with a decent ear infection, preventing me to put in 100 percent. I did five trips to Europe in 2017, and it was just too much. Then, you get to a race like Roubaix and not even 48 hours before the start you’re getting antibiotics from some French healer, along with a box of other medicines—that, typically, is not how you see things playing out in your head. This year I will be making a more permanent move to Europe, at least for the main part of the season, to avoid all that hassle and chances of getting sick.

You’ve found success on the road and mountain. What came first for you as far as competitive cycling?

I started off with BMX racing when I was 7 years old, earning a National, European and World champion title. When my BMX bike got stolen at one of the races, all I had to ride was a mountain bike. I started riding mountain bikes more, both cross-country and downhill, but this was also when I watched the Tour de France for the first time, and I immediately decided that was what I wanted to do one day. I started riding road bikes, and in 2013 I went to Nationals with barely 2000 miles in and swiped five titles competing in mountain, road and track events.

This will be your first year racing U23. How will your training schedule evolve?

I have changed my training program completely for this year. I ride a similar amount as last year, but the difference is that everything is extremely precise and controlled; there is nothing left to chance. The intensity of all my training has drastically increased, and it is a completely new way of training compared to what I have ever done before. It is nice to switch things up, along with seeing my numbers steadily improving. There is plenty of time to put some decent miles in for the future. I always observe what older cyclists do, trying to learn and
prevent mistakes.

What race gets you the most excited and plan on targeting this year?

I love the Classics. It is just completely different from everything else, and you will never come away with a similar race. Cobbles for me are extremely fun. You have to approach the races in different ways compared to your normal road races. You are on your own with less support. My plan is to do a few prep races in Croatia and Italy to tune up for the Spring Classics, then switch over to U23 stage races. I still have to shed some upper-body muscles and turn into a mountain goat.

You finished third at the Junior Paris-Roubaix. What do you do differently going into that race to deal with the cobbles?

There is only so many things you can do. As far as the bike goes, you throw on fat tires, double-wrap handlebar tape and glue the bottles. What is most important for me is recon. Every single cobble section is so unique. Knowing what you are going into before hitting the first cobbles is the best advantage you can have. I’d rather explore the holes in advance than swipe them during the race. Keeping in mind the wind direction and any other outside factors also gives you a huge upper hand when thinking about where the race may split and the position you must be in.

With your many different talents, which discipline would you like to find the most success in?

I have decided to focus on road cycling because it’s the most prestigious and challenging. But I still love riding mountain bikes for my training.

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