The Tour of the Gila has always taken great pride in showcasing some of the best upcoming talent from across the continent and beyond, and this year is no exception. Taking the start line this April will be U23 team Aevolo Cycling, an American Continental development team with an international line up. We were fortunate enough to catch up with 19-year-old team member Michael Hernandez to chat about the new team, his expectations for Gila and much more.
Gila: Tell us a little bit about your new team and why it’s unique.
Michael Hernandez: Aevolo Cycling has a perfect mix of wise and experienced staff, infused with young and eager cyclists. We are a brand-new Continental development team hungry to make a name for ourselves, and each with the goal to get to the next levels of cycling. Aevolo also brings a diverse roster in our debut season with six American riders, two Canadians, one Mexican and one Spanish rider. It has made our inner team experience extremely lively with riders coming from so many different backgrounds.
G: What are your personal goals for this race? Team goals?
MH: This is my first year participating at Gila so my personal ambition goes to what I know; make it through the climbs and stage hunt in the finale if/when I make it to the finish, while also fighting for the sprinter jersey. Stages 2 and 4 (the inner loop course and the criterium) are my main focuses with the only probable field sprint days. The other stages put any personal aspiration on the back seat to the team goal. Without giving too much away our team hope is to make a statement throughout the entire week of racing. We want to let the field know who we are while throwing down with America’s best.
G: What stage(s) are you looking forward to and why?
MH: Every stage race I go into I look to get something positive out of every stage, no matter how out of my comfort zone it is as a whole. I look forward to assisting my teammates where I can when it is not my day; whether that is fetching bottles from the team car, or riding the front to defend a lead. Doing your job every stage can be satisfying, especially when it pays off with a victory. However, personally I am looking at stages 2 and 4, the inner loop and the criterium. These are the two stages that I feel confident that I can make it to the finish and unleash a sprint or two.
G: What do you consider to be some of your best cycling performances?
MH: I’ve been fortunate enough to be a part of many great programs in the past and play a role in three national championships for teammates, and two international GC wins while racing with the Junior National Team. Personally, my best cycling performances come to three criteriums I did in 2016: 2nd at U23 Criterium Nationals, 2nd at Sunny King Criterium (PRT), and 2nd on stage three of Grand Prix Cycliste de Saguenay (UCI 2.2 race in Quebec).
G: How did you get into the sport?
MH: My path into cycling was a bit unusual. Neither of my parents were cyclists or even knew about the world of cycling. I jumped into the sport when I was about twelve and I have my brother to thank for it. Growing up I played an array of sports, but in my middle school days I narrowed it down to two, baseball and football. Weight classes categorize younger level football, and believe it or not I was a chubby young kid before I found cycling. Because of that I was always playing with older and stronger kids than me and not my school friends. During this time my brother was an avid swimmer and somebody got him to try a triathlon. Because the training for triathlon didn’t interfere with any of my sports my parents thought it would be a good way for me to get into shape. It did not take long for me to realize that I hated running and all I wanted to do in a pool or lake was relax. But there was something about riding that I took to right away. I think that even back then I fell in love with the idea that it was up to me how much I wanted to devote to this sport. After getting into a few local junior races I realized I was not half bad at pedaling and gave up the other sports. I haven’t looked back since.
G: What are a few non-cycling related things people should know about you?
MH: Off the bike, I am a very simple human being. I am a church-going man and that is a huge/main part of my life. I am Floridian born and raised, and part of that means I enjoy spending just about all my off time around some body of water; whether it is an ocean, a lake, a pool, or a spring. There is just something about being in or around water that relaxes me and lets me forget about all the problems in the world.
G: What’s a typical day like in Michael Hernandez’s world?
MH: A typical day in my world is fairly routine. Most days start between 7:30-8am with a light pre-breakfast core workout. Post core I fix myself up a hardy breakfast and take the next couple hours to relax and get household work done for the day. Most of my rides start between 10-11am and finish up with a post ride meal. I take the time between the end of my ride and dinner to work on any schoolwork that I have for that week. I am an online college student which makes it easy to manage my time between school and riding. Dinner is usually calling my name around 7pm so I try to finish everything I must do for the day by then to make my late evening full relaxation time in preparation for the next day ahead. My day ends around 9:30-10:30pm and then the cycle starts all over again in the morning.
Hernandez sprinted to 4th place on Stage 3 of the Joe Martin Stage Race last week in Arkansas. We interviewed Hernandez prior to announcing the changes on Mogollon. Tour of the Gila begins Wednesday, April 19, 2017.