- It was billed as talent versus training — natural talent that has spent much of the past 15 years simmering on the back burner versus strength accumulated through years of consistent training by an amateur age-grouper.
The competitors: Jonathan Vaughters, manager of the EF Education First WorldTour team, and Neal Rogers, CyclingTips editor at large. They are the same age (46) and the same weight (160 pounds, or 73 kilos), and they live near each other. One of them set a climbing record on Mont Ventoux; the other has never won a bike race.
The venue: Flagstaff Mountain in Boulder, Colorado, a 7.4km climb long averaging 8%, with a few sections near the top reaching 16%. Total vertical ascent: 1,978 feet, or 603 meters; elevation at the summit is 7,697 feet, or 2,346 meters.
The challenge: First rider to the top — pretty straightforward. No official sanctioning, no minimum bike weight; working with teammates was allowed and encouraged. Neal would have CyclingTips colleagues Caley Fretz and James Huang on my side; Vaughters could look to local EF riders such as Taylor Phinney, Lachlan Morton, or US champion Alex Howes.
It all started as a bit of trash talk over a decade ago; it resurfaced in the fall of 2018, as good a reason as any for a couple of middle-aged men in Lycra to stay motivated.
Neal rode Factor’s new 02 VAM frame set with Mavic Cosmic Ultimate tubular wheels, Shimano Dura-Ace mechanical group set and power meter, and a Wahoo ELEMNT ROAM head unit to monitor and record power data. For kit, he was racing in custom CyclingTips Champion System Apex Pro jersey and Apex bib shorts.
The bike build was done by Velofix, North America’s largest Mobile Bike Shop fleet. Check to see if they’re in your area and you can book a service online by visiting https://www.velofix.com