After announcing his retirement from racing earlier this season, Michael Creed is wasting no time moving into the next phase of his cycling career. The 32-year-old from Colorado Springs will slide behind the wheel of a team car to direct Team SmartStop-Mountain Khakis at the upcoming Tour of Alberta in September.
"I had talked to one of the riders, Adam Myerson, a while back about how I was looking to get into directing," Creed said. "I was having a lot of problems with my back. I've been fighting my back for seven years now, and I just had the feeling it wasn't getting better."
Creed, one of the most decorated amateur riders in US history, started his pro career in 2000 with 7Up-Colorado Cyclist before moving on to Prime Alliance, US Postal Service, Discovery Channel, Slipstream, Rock Racing, Team Type 1 and finally Optum-Kelly Benefit Strategies, where he rode from 2011 through this year.
Following a slow start to a season in which he struggled to finish the handful of races he started, Creed, who is driving the team bus for Optum this week at the Tour of Utah, decided to call it quits as far as racing, but he's not ready to walk away from the sport that has been a focus for more than half of his life.
"I really enjoy going to races and sharing the knowledge, and I still want to be a part of that," he said. "I saw that Mountain Khakis didn't have a permanent full-time guy, so I just kind of threw that out there. I didn't hear much about it until maybe a month ago, and then things moved rather quickly. I couldn't be more excited."
The former ProTour rider and multi-time national champion said the switch from saddle to driver's seat is a natural progression that completes a change in attitude that started years ago.
"My goals shifted, and it was a slow process," Creed said. "In the beginning it was about getting results for myself and progressing there. Then it became about helping my teammates learn how to ride for a leader and being better at that, and now it's going to be something else.
"But I really want to help and be a part of something successful," he continued. "It's not about being on the road and trying to figure out how not to enter real life, I mean that's a perk of it, but it's more about figuring out how to be successful and how to groom people to win races. If it's not winning races, if it's just getting a guy to ride above his level, that's my goal now."
Creed will be in charge of a diverse and talented Alberta roster that will include guest riders Travis McCabe and Eric Marcotte of the Elbowz domestic elite amateur team. McCabe recently won the USA Cycling elite criterium championships and has hit the podium multiple times this year at National Racing Calendar events.
"So we have some guys who will definitely be searching for some top 10s and opportunities," Creed said. "It's not necessarily a GC squad, but that said, if Bobby Lea does a really good prologue and holds on, that would be something, but we're just going to be searching for top 10s."
Creed said if his directing stint with SmartStop-Mountain Khakis doesn't eventually turn into a permanent job, he'll look to other teams to get his shot at a full-time director's position. And at his relatively young age, Creed, who is also known for his sense of humor, should have plenty of time to make his goal of being a full-time team director happen.
"But who knows," he said. "Maybe in two months I'll be one of those directors who talks about how much I trained and how much the guys before me trained and how much harder we were as riders. The only problem is, if we have riders my age they'll know it's bullshit. I think it would be best if I started with a team of all 19-year-olds."
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Growing up in Missoula, Montana, Pat competed in his first bike race in 1985 at Flathead Lake. He studied English and journalism at the University of Oregon and has covered North American cycling extensively since 2009, as well as racing and teams in Europe and South America. Pat currently lives in the US outside of Portland, Oregon, with his imaginary dog Rusty.
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