BEING PRO STEPHEN BASSETT

Photo: VeloImages 

Team: Rally Cycling

Hometown: Knoxville, Tennessee

Age: 25

 What’s a simple workout you’ve used that our readers can incorporate to their rides to gain some power this year?

I do a ton of pace-change intervals. These work really well as a more realistic representation of a race scenario and performing under some fatigue. For example, doing 12 minutes at tempo, followed by three sets of 30 seconds hard with 30 seconds rest. I think these efforts provide a great boost in fitness without adding as much fatigue as doing 10 minutes all out several times a week, for example.

Where’s your favorite place to ride?

I am honestly a huge fan of training at home. My favorite rides in the area are the gravel back roads around Hartford, Tennessee, that roll into North Carolina. 

What is the story behind your 2019 season? 

2018 was a really tough season for me. I was struggling to return to fitness after two surgeries to remove a saddle sore. I didn’t have any results in a year where the market was rapidly shrinking, and I don’t think anyone wanted to gamble one of their limited roster spots on me. I was super fortunate that a few of my friends were on First Internet Bank, and I actually went up to Indiana for a tryout to see how I fit into the team. We saw it was a good fit, and we pushed each other in great ways. They put a lot of confidence in me, and I wanted to pay that back. I was able to encourage the team to do some extra races like Redlands and Winston-Salem. They made sure I had every tool in my toolbox and rode as seasoned veterans, allowing us to go on a bit of a tear in the domestic road-race scene.

I knew I wanted to race the Tour of Utah, so after my podium appearance at nationals, I signed with Wildlife Generation Pro Cycling, but didn’t want to commit through 2020 with the potential for a team like Rally on the horizon. WGPC Director Danny Van Haute is a legend in the sport, and I saw that our goals overlapped well, as I could come in for a few races and share my experience with the younger guys on his roster. I actually fell a bit flat in Utah, but was able to squeeze out one more big ride for Wildlife Generation in Japan.

All of your efforts seem to have paid off with your victory at Stage 2 of the Tour of Hokkaido. Can you describe what is different about racing in Japan?

Racing in Japan was really neat. They do a lot of things differently over there. For one thing, they don’t completely close the roads, so there is still traffic coming the other way! They also do some really nice things for the racers. The moto ref can hand out neutral water bottles to anyone who needs one, and they also periodically come by the group with a bag for trash and bottles to cut down on litter! These are some really easy and cool things I think we should do more often. 

For me personally, my great-grandparents emigrated from Japan to California, so it was great that cycling provided me with a chance to connect with part of my heritage. The public really gets behind the race, and it almost felt like we were in a country like Belgium

Any tips regarding nutrition while traveling? What did you eat while you were racing in Japan?

When traveling to a new country, I would recommend packing a good source of protein just in case it’s hard to find. You can almost always easily find a good source of carbs. Don’t count on the organization for lunch, and make sure you have some emergency snacks. I enjoyed the local cuisine at the race meals: a lot of rice and fish. We even had fish for breakfast, along with teacup-sized coffees!

Congrats on signing with Rally Cycling for 2020 and 2021! What are your goals for the upcoming season?

Yup, I’m super excited to spend the next two years with Rally. I’m aiming to learn as much as possible. I hope to eventually gain the fitness and experience to transfer my skills as a finisher into a deeper pool.

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