Adam de Vos is no stranger to podium ceremonies. He won multiple jerseys across the US this year during his first season on the Continental level with H&R Block. He failed to nail down the as-yet-elusive race win, however, and the 22-year-old from Victoria, British Columbia is ready to change that next year with Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies.
“It's hard to call them wins, but I've had the white jersey at San Dimas, the KOM at Philly and the KOM at Cascade, so your name is on the top of a results sheet, but it's not really the one you want to be at the top of,” de Vos said. “So I'm really motivated through the winter to get that win next year in a race. That's what I'm thinking about this winter.”
De Vos went into the off-season following an impressive ninth-place finish at the U23 World Championship road race in Richmond, a result that capped a breakout season that grabbed the attention of Optum director Jonas Carney very early on.
“I started watching Adam after his performances at San Dimas and Redlands and was super impressed with how consistent he was throughout the season,” Carney said. “A lot of riders will train really hard in the offseason, ride well early, and peter out by June. Adam kept the results rolling from March through U23 Worlds.”
De Vos started the season fourth overall at the San Dimas Stage Race, then followed up with fifth overall at the Redlands Bicycle Classic, the US National Racing Calendar opener. His versatility was on display with a second-place finish to criterium sprinter Daniel Holloway during the circuit race at Sea Otter, followed by seventh overall at Tour of the Gila, where he finished fifth during the grueling Gila Monster stage.
De Vos also won the climber's jersey at the Philadelphia Cycling Classic, was seventh at the PanAm Championships time trial and fifth in the road race.
"Those results were good as far as building confidence early in the season,” de Vos said of San Dimas and Redlands. “Just to get those results under my belt really early, and then head into Gila, which was the big goal for me for that first month of the season.
“Then we went into the PanAm Championships and I got fifth-place there, which was really important for getting our U23 Worlds qualifications. We qualified four spots for Worlds, which was something we haven't done for quite a few years. That first two months of the season was really successful on a lot of fronts.”
Starts at the September Canadian WorldTour races in Montreal and Quebec City highlighted the second half of de Vos' season, followed by his result at Worlds.
“One of the real nice things about having those WorldTour races in Canada is that we are able to send a national team, so I did that with the national team,” he said.
De Vos made the seven-rider breakaway in Quebec City - on a course that winds up through the old walled town on narrow, European-style roadways - and nearly captured the KOM the jersey. His group stayed away for three quarters of the race but eventually succumbed to the chase. Rigoberto Uran (Cannondale-Garmin) sprinted away up the final climb to take the win.
De Vos paid for his efforts in the Quebec City breakaway two days later in Montreal, where he eventually dropped out of the race, but the cast had been set for World Championship road race 12 days later.
“The WorldTour races were the best thing that I could have done to prep, because they were really hard,” he said. “I was kind of in a big hole coming out of them, but once I got recovered and was on the start line for Worlds, I had great form.
“All through that Worlds race it was nice because it was like being at another level,” he said. “Those WorldTour races, they were just such a high level; it was just pinned for us U23 guys the whole time. We were maxed out the whole time. So then going into the U23 Worlds road race it was at a lower level, and you can be more proactive in the race. It was a nice position to be in.”
Now de Vos has a position on one of the top US domestic teams, with plans to travel to Portugal for some racing before the Tour of California in May. Optum appears to be a perfect fit for the young Canadian. He's already good friends with fellow British Columbians Will Routley, an Optum stalwart and Tour of California stage winner, and Rob Britton, who's coming to the team from SmartStop after winning Tour of the Gila last year.
“He's in Victoria as well,” de Vos said of Britton. “We're pretty good friends, and we actually have the same coach, Chris Baldwin. We ride together a fair bit and go for coffee a fair bit.
“It's nice to go to a team with so many experienced guys, and also so many guys that I know already. Will Routely is another guy who has kind of been a mentor to me for the past few years. He's another super-experienced Canadian guy I can learn a lot from.”
With heavy rains rolling into the Pacific Northwest for the weekend and a long winter of training ahead, de Vos keeps the motivation high by thinking about throwing his arms up for a victory salute in a race next year, or finishing alongside one of the friends he now calls teammates. De Vos acknowledged he'll be with a deep and talented team next year, and his role at Optum will mean more support and less leadership than he had with H&R Block, but he's hoping he'll have room for his own opportunities in 2016.
“Winning a UCI race during our trip to Portugal would be a really neat result for me to get. I'd be really happy to win one of those,” he said, recalling fellow Canadian Mike Woods' win in Portugal for Optum last year. Woods is riding for Cannondale-Garmin next season.
“I'd really like to win the young rider jersey at Tour of the Gila,” de Vos added. “I know Rob will be going for a repeat in that, so if we could do a one-two or something where we're both up there and I can win the young rider jersey, that would be really special for me.”