Gavin Hoover Leading 2022 Track Worlds
Team USA

Gavin Hoover Leads the Men's Track Team Heading to Worlds

By: Jim Rutberg  October 05, 2022

Gavin Hoover is one of the fastest endurance track racers on the planet, a position he hopes to confirm at the 2022 UCI Track World Championships.

Olympian, UCI Track Champions League winner, and US Pro Criterium National Championship silver medalist, Gavin Hoover, will race the Omnium, standalone Scratch Race, and standalone Elimination at the Vélodrome de Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines in Montigny-le-Bretonneux, France, from October 12-16. One of the most experienced members of Team USA, Hoover is a rider to watch during Worlds this year.

From Team Pursuit to Mass Start Champion

During the early years of his career on the track, Gavin played a pivotal role in the effort to qualify a Team Pursuit team for the 2020 Olympics. Between 2017 and 2019, Hoover and a rotation of the strongest track riders in the country, including Ashton Lambie, Daniel Summerhill, Daniel Holloway, Adrian Hegyvary, Colby Lange, Eric Young, Shane Kline, and John Croom, won gold medals at the USA Cycling Track National Championships, Pan American Track Championships, and Pan American Games, along with a bronze medal at the 2018 UCI Track World Cup in Santiago, Chile.

Despite extraordinary efforts from the athletes, Team USA did not qualify a team for the 2020 Olympic Games, which were postponed to 2021 due to the pandemic. To continue pursuing his long-standing dream of competing in the Olympics, Hoover needed to shift gears – or change cogs, as the case may be.

Already a successful road and criterium rider, Hoover pushed hard for opportunities to transition to track’s mass start events: the omnium, standalone scratch racing, standalone elimination, and the madison. “I think mass start events suit my physiology better, anyway. Efforts that are 10, 15, 20 minutes are better for me than four minutes for the team pursuit. And mass start racing rewards a bit more thinking, which is why I think I like it more. There’s more going on than just pedaling as hard as you can for four minutes.”

Shifting focus to mass start events paid off for Hoover. In 2019, he earned a bronze medal at the Pan American Track Championships in the Omnium, then followed that up with a bronze medal at the 2020 UCI Track World Cup event in Milton, Canada. Hoover was named to the Tokyo 2020 U.S. Olympic Team to compete in the Omnium and Madison events.

Olympic Dream Realized, and Dashed

Hoover’s Olympic experience – delayed until August 2021 - was mixed. He had a strong 8th place finish in the Omnium, but tragedy struck during the Madison, which he rode with teammate Adrian Hegyvary. The pair rode well in the first half of the 200-lap race, picking up points in two separate sprints. Their race ended with 94 laps to go, however, following a crash that resulted in a broken wrist for Hoover.

With a forced 5-6 weeks off the bike after the Olympics, and performances at World Championships that didn’t meet his expectations, Hoover was uncertain about his future in the sport as he headed into the winter of 2021-2022. Then came the UCI Track Champions League. “I got through Worlds and thought it wasn’t the best experience, but then there was this League, so I figured might as well do it and see what happens,” Hoover said.

What happened was the revitalization of Hoover’s passion for track cycling. Following a missed season due to COVID cancellations, and the extended Olympic build that ended with a broken wrist, Hoover had endured a tough two years. The competitive-yet-collaborative atmosphere at the Track Champions League events provided the reset Hoover needed.

“It was nice to go somewhere that was competitive, people were racing really hard, and yet the environment was really positive,” said Hoover. “It was post-Olympic cycle for everyone, so riders were excited to be there and excited to race without that Olympic pressure. It was fun, and the more fun I had, the better I raced, and that all just built toward the end.” At the conclusion of the event, Hoover rode away as the Men’s Endurance Champion and with new direction for his cycling career.

New Team, New Outlook for 2022 Season

Gavin Hoover and Justin Williams have been friends and rivals since they were Juniors. While Hoover had been focused on the Olympics, Williams had been creating Legion of Los Angeles. Hoover joined the team for the 2022 season.

Although he has the power and savvy to be a team leader and win elite criteriums, Hoover decided to take a support role with L39gion. “I feel like I get enough pressure and results fulfillment from the track, so I’m quite happy to go in and ride for my teammates,” he commented. “I get a lot of satisfaction out of helping the other guys win.”

One of the risks of having one of the world’s best track riders as your leadout is that you might not be able to come around him in the sprint. At the 2022 US Pro Criterium National Championships, while leading out teammate Ty Magner, it was Hoover who scored the silver medal behind winner Luke Lamperti. “I know that sprint really well, having done it when I raced for [his last team],” Hoover said. “It rewards going early, so our plan was that I would win the race for the third to last corner, with Ty on my wheel. We pretty much did that, and from there everyone just has to go for the line.”

2022 World Championships Preparation

Hoover’s preparation for the 2022 UCI Track World Championships incorporated a mixture of elite criteriums and track-specific training at the U.S. Olympic Training Center Velodrome in Colorado Springs, Colorado. In his view, criteriums and mass-start track events complement each other from a training perspective, and he and the Legion team worked out a race schedule that integrated into Hoover’s U.S. National Team training camps and track competitions.

Several members of Team USA came together for pre-Worlds training in Colorado Springs, with Hoover being one of the more experienced and senior riders of the group. “I went from being the youngest guy to being the oldest guy and being the most experienced. It’s fun to watch guys go through the same process we started in 2017, the run at a Men’s Team Pursuit spot in the Olympics, with the benefit of lessons we learned last time,” he commented.

Pressed a bit further about those lessons, Hoover explained, “It takes a while to truly recognize what the competitive level is internationally. You can look at the times, but the stopwatch doesn’t always reflect what it takes to go that fast. Learning from our experiences, I’m hopeful they’ll evolve further and reach that next level.”

For his part, Hoover found additional motivation from training with newer members of Team USA, as well as from racing on the road with a new team this year. With a solid season of racing and training behind him, he is heading to the 2022 UCI Track World Championships with the confidence and fitness necessary for a podium performance.