Lucas Euser will rejoin the pro peloton with his new team SpiderTech powered by Planet Energy at the San Dimas Stage Race this weekend, his first race back after colliding with a car last May. The team united for a few days prior to give its riders a chance to test their legs over the mountainous terrain around Solvang, California.
"I haven't raced since my accident but I've been training hard, working really hard in the gym and staying on top of my rehab by doing the necessary things to get better," Euser told Cyclingnews. "These first races are going to be a challenge and remind me of what I was doing before. I'm up for that challenge."
Euser raced for Garmin-Slipstream last year but his season was cut short when he collided with a car while out for a training ride in Girona, Spain. His injuries included broken ribs and finger, and a shattered patella.
"By no means do I have any personal goals or aspirations," Euser said. "I want to get though it and get the racing back in my legs to see how my knee handles it. If it doesn't handle it then I'm going to have to reassess. This process is new for me because I've never had an injury like this so I need to look at the big picture and see how I'm going to be going. Right now things seem to be on track."
SpiderTech is Canada's sole UCI Continental team and signed Euser to its program in January. He is a valuable addition to a team that has its sights set on becoming the nation's first Pro Continental outfit.
"It's a team effort and I want to earn their respect," Euser said. "I don't want to come in and tell anyone what to do. To earn their respect I have to show that I can work for them first. We also have a great group of guys who are eager to race and are going really strong right now."
The eight-man squad entered to compete in the San Dimas Stage Race and the Redlands Bicycle Classic held the following weekend include Euser, François Parisien, Bruno Langlois, Flavio De Luna, Charly Vives, Mark Batty, David Boily and Eric Boily.
"The guys are looking really good and everyone is motivated for this year," Euser said. "We are excited about what is going to happen, it's a big year for this team. We're at a point where things could take off for the future and I think everyone knows that and is committed.
"I think everyone is willing to put in a team effort and realises that everyone has to take their turn. Doing that will make a successful team and in turn a successful future."
The San Dimas Stage Race will be the first event for Euser but his team has already competed in two UCI events, beginning with the Vuelta a Cuba where they earned six stage wins. They went on to race the Vuelta Independencia Nacional in the Dominican Republic, where Bruno Langlois earned a second place overall.
The SpiderTech riders united at a weeklong team training camp held in Buellton, California. The town is located just outside of Solvang, one of Southern California most popular cycling destinations located in the Santa Ynez Valley. The team took advantage of the mountainous terrain for scenic photo opportunity and challenging rides over the Figueroa, Foxen, Cat, Ballard and Drum canyons.
"This place in gorgeous," continued Euser. "Steve [Bauer] and I spoke about doing the camp somewhere close to LA but out of the smog and we came to the conclusion that Solvang was the place to be. Lance [Armstrong] put this place on the map about 10 years ago and ever since it's been a cycling hotbed.
"The Tour of California came through here and everyone loves this place. There is some amazing riding here."
The Canadians on the team enjoyed the warm weather and plenty of sunshine that made training more enjoyable, especially after the long winter months spent up north.
"This camp was meant for riding and to get to know each other," Euser explained. "We landed a week of some of the most beautiful weather all year, 85 for the high. There are a lot of guys with sun burns.
"I think it's going to be flawless weather for the racing during these next two weeks and a great way to start the season. The guys that are doing San Dimas and Redlands are leaving a bit early and the other guys are doing the Tour of Uruguay."
The team will compete in the San Dimas Stage Race, Redlands Bicycle Classic and the Vuelta Ciclista al Uruguay before turning its attention toward Tour of Battenkill, Tour of the Gila, Joe Martin and the Tour of California, should it receive an invitation.
"I think that there are enough guys on the team that if we did get into the Tour of California, they could handle that hard of a race in May," said Euser. "There will be guys coming here that are preparing for the Tour de France and they'll be riding harder than they were in February. It's a challenge but our goal is to go after stage wins and jerseys. I'm not saying that we can win the general classification but there are other ways to prove that you are a worthy team to be out there."
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Kirsten Frattini is an honours graduate of Kinesiology and Health Science from York University in Toronto, Canada. She has been involved in cycling from the community and grassroots level to professional cycling's WorldTour. She has worked in both print and digital publishing, and started with Cyclingnews as a North American Correspondent in 2006. Moving into a Production Editor's role in 2014, she produces and publishes international race coverage for all men's and women's races including Spring Classics, Grand Tours, World Championships and Olympic Games, and writes and edits news and features. As the Women's Editor at Cyclingnews, Kirsten also coordinates and oversees the global coverage of races, news, features and podcasts about women's professional cycling.