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Stephen Hyde hits new stride on Steve Tilford Foundation Racing team

HOOGERHEIDE NETHERLANDS JANUARY 26 Stephen Hyde of The United States and Cannondale Cyclocrossworld Team during the 31st WC GP Adrie Van der Poel Hoogerheide 2020 Men Elite UCICX TelenetUCICXWC on January 26 2020 in Hoogerheide Netherlands Photo by Luc ClaessenGetty Images
American Stephen Hyde racing in January 2020 at the GP Adrie Van der Poel Hoogerheide (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

A new direction along with a new color scheme have been unveiled for three-time US Cyclocross national champion Stephen Hyde. He will headline a trio of riders on the new Steve Tilford Foundation Racing team, which was announced this week as a US-based, professional multi-surface cycling team with an emphasis on cyclo-cross and gravel racing.

The pro roster includes team owner and cyclo-cross specialist Raylyn Nuss and former pro road cyclist Joseph Schmalz. The team will operate as an extension of the Steve Tilford Foundation, a non-for-profit organization created to help young people pursue passions through the sport of cycling.

“Now more than ever I am looking for the ability to not just race my bike at the highest level but to also help others meet their goals. Starting a coaching career on the side of racing has really helped push me in the direction of development,” Hyde told Cyclingnews.

“So when Steve Tilford Racing came to me and asked if I wanted to be a part of the growth and development of it's racing team and foundation, I jumped at the chance! I know that I get more from the sport when I can give something back, it's what drives me to be better and even faster.”

A sixth season with Cannondale – Cyclocrossworld Pro Team was not in the cards for 2020, so Hyde started a coaching business in late spring, Stephen Hyde Coaching. He wanted to continue racing full time and did not have to wait long for a new opportunity.

“It’s time for a new direction. What started out as disappointing news to not be asked back onto the program that has given me so much and to be honest, struggling to find what my place in CX looked like, all the cards just fell into place. The direction that this team is going in has filled me with hope for the future of racing in this country. With so many great brands behind us and showing us how much THEY care about our efforts, it just gives me that much more strength. It feels like home to me and I couldn't be happier,” said Hyde.

The Steve Tilford Foundation becomes the new title sponsor for Nuss’ previous team, operated as the MAAP l Mini USA cyclo-cross program, and adds Specialized to the sponsor lineup to returning brands MAAP cycling apparel, MINI USA and Muc-Off. 

“We are fortunate to be able to build something so bright during what seems to be such a dark year and without any racing on the U.S. calendar,” said Nuss in a team statement. “We have this rare opportunity to be a part of a new foundation where the athletes not only get to compete at the highest level, but we’ll also strive to foster and grow the cycling community by focusing our passion through mentorship.” 

No definitive calendar of races has been set for the team at this time, but Nuss hoped she and Hyde can to return to competition in Europe for some World Cup events, pending COVID-19 lockdown restrictions.

In addition to the professional and junior teams, the Steve Tilford Foundation Racing program will include a competitive Master’s team. All team members support the mission to create opportunities for new and upcoming racers and help young people find and chase their passion through the sport of cycling.

“Steve was, above all, a bike racer. Though his influence reached far beyond racing, it all started there: on the start line, at the front, racing at the highest level. We are excited about the future, grateful for the ambassadorship of these outstanding riders, and looking forward to 2022 Worlds in Fayetteville,” said Foundation CEO Eric Struckhoff in the team press release. 

Tilford was a versatile rider and advocate for clean and fair competition, who represented the US at the World Championships in cyclo-cross, mountain biking and as an amateur and pro on the road. He won four US titles and two world masters titles. In mountain biking, he won the inaugural NORBA Mountain Bike National Championship in 1983 and later took five world masters titles. A member of the Mountain Bike Hall of Fame (2000), Tilford died in 2017 at the age of 59, and his legacy lives on with the Steve Tilford Foundation.