US Continental team Aevolo will start the 2019 season at the Tour Colombia 2.1, which starts February 12 in Medellin with a team time trial and finishes with stage 6 atop Alto de Palmas on Sunday, February 17.
The U23 development team run by former pro and SmartStop director Mike Creed will compete alongside six WorldTour teams, seven Pro Continental teams, 12 Continental teams and three national teams representing Colombia, Ecuador and Italy.
“It’s always an amazing opportunity to race against the best in the world, but to have it be our first race of 2019 makes it even more exciting,” Creed said in a team press release announcing the Colombia roster. “We’ll be realistic with our goals, but that doesn’t mean we’re just going to sit back either.”
Aevolo will be going into its third season after Creed founded the team in 2017. Aevolo had a breakout season last year, sweeping all three disciplines at the USA Cycling U23 Road National Championships and placing Mexican time trial champion Luis Villalobos with EF Education First for the second half of the season. The 20-year-old Mexican time trial champion finished eighth overall at the 2.HC Tour Utah in August and is slated to join the WorldTour teaming June. Later in August, 20-year-old Colorado native Gage Hecht took a stage win and led the 2.HC Colorado Classic for a day before finishing 14th overall, one spot behind Villalobos.
U23 road champion Alex Hoehn, 21, is one of six Aevolo riders who will make the trip.
“Ever since Creed told us we had a chance of going, it’s the only thing I think about,” Hoehn said. “It really shows how far this team has come. We were invited, not just because our jerseys look the coolest, but because we have shown we can compete against some of the best in the world. It means everything to the team. We don’t get many chances like this, so we are going to take advantage of it, go down there and show them what we are made of.”
Joining Hoehn in Colombia will be Villalobos and 19-year-old Fernando Islas. Aevolo will also field three riders who are new to the team in 2019: Cade Bickmore, 20, Gabriel Rojas, 18, and Riley Sheehan, 18.
“I am excited to start off my season down in Colombia with the team and this being my first pro race,” Sheehan said. "Looking at the course profiles and the team that's coming down, I think it should be a good race. I have quite a bit of nerves coming into it, but I think the motivation to train and excitement has been much bigger. As a new rider, I hope to find my spot or role on the team at this race. It will be a big leap from junior racing, but after having a great time at our training camp early in the year I think we will work together very well.”
Aevolo for Tour Colombia 2.1: Alex Hoehn, Luis Villalobos, Fernando Islas, Cade Bickmore, Gabriel Rojas, Riley Sheehan.