Team Velo Sport Heroimg
Centers of Excellence

Get to know Velosport

By: Page Heller  September 16, 2020

Team Velosport strives to grow Junior road cycling by promoting the sport’s benefits and focusing on youth development.

Team Velosport wants their young athletes to develop good sportsmanship, teamwork, responsibility, and encompass other traits that help on and off the bike. The program works with a broad range of ages and skills U23 and provides consistency in the racing environment.

We got the opportunity to connect with Jeff Shein, Team Director for Velosport Junior Development, and ask him about how cycling has helped develop their youth athletes, why consider joining Team Velosport, the story behind this year's kits, and the safety protocols they are taking during the COVID-19 pandemic.

What important attributes has cycling helped develop in your youth athletes?

We assist juniors from ages 9 to 22, from beginner to elite. Some of our members are there to learn more about road cycling and get better at it, some want to exercise and become fit, others cross-train for other cycling disciplines, and some are there for the social aspects- to meet new friends and have fun. About 1/3 of our members are avid cyclists who want to race competitively.

All of our members learn to ride safely and have fun. Our elite members are more involved, we have a special program for them. These riders learn about responsibility and teamwork. They participate in more team events and also assist with social media to support our sponsors.

For some of our members, it's a life-altering experience. We have taken over 60 riders to Europe to race Kermesse and top UCI events over the past nine years. All of them learned a lot from the trip- about racing, travel, and life experiences. Several have been financially challenged and we have donated equipment and covered travel expenses. Those riders have improved in either school or the military and now lead very successful lives. It's all been quite rewarding knowing we were able to help!

Many of our elite members have achieved great success with the program, many are National Champions, some have gone to World Championships, and three of our alumni members have gone pro. These alumni who went pro include Sean Quinn, who just signed with Deceuninck-QuickStep, and Kevin Vermaerke who signed with Team Sunweb.

Why should young cyclists consider joining Team Velosport?

For the younger ones, it's mostly for the fun and to learn to ride confidently and safely. For the more advanced riders, they have the goal of getting to our Elite program to gain the support needed to advance within the sport.

In addition to the successes our members have had racing for Velosport, many of our members go on to Roy Knickman's LUX development program, as we are the primary "feeder" team for them.

Our program also provides great support to all members. This comes in the form of education, mechanical work, race-day support (tent, nutrition, mechanic, etc.). We run camps and our great sponsors provide equipment for the elite program and free or discounted products for all members. We also have some inventory of loaner bikes and equipment for families who cannot afford it. In cases of true financial hardship, we often cover race fees and USAC license fees.

What makes riding for Velosport so special for the athletes?

Our dedicated and skilled staff who have a passion for helping juniors advance helps make Velopsport special for our athletes. We run weekly rides for our regular members and many parents assist with these rides. We do a three-day cycling camp every January with rides, drills, and seminars for all. Many parents, coaches, and even pro racers assist with the camp!

Our elite program is run by two race-experienced coaches who have a passion for this. Drew Kogon, who has assisted at USA Cycling Talent ID camps, is our Elite Director. He handles the elite administration and communications with the members. Eric Oien assists him and also handles race-day coaching/leadership. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, both of them have worked in tandem to keep the program super active and positive for our 11 member elite squad. They run weekly Zoom calls, have conducted two multi-day camps with great rides and fun activities like a talent show and they have a third one planned as well- a barbeque. The elite members are as motivated as ever. They just ran a selection camp for the 2021 program and it was exciting to see the prospective members interacting with existing members and staff.

Is there a story behind this year’s kit?

We typically have between 50 and 100 members each year at Velosport. We used to have separate "regular" and "elite" team kits. This year we simplified. Since most of the sponsors were the same (2019 vs 2020), we even kept the colors and design the same so members who didn't wear-out or outgrow their kits could still use the 2019 kit for training (or multi-day stage races).

We're likely to do it again for 2021, though we might opt for a new color. I typically put it up for a vote with the elite team. In fact, the elite team typically does the initial design work so they feel pride in wearing something they had a hand in developing.

Safety Protocols while Riding

In March, we stopped our team rides immediately, and after things started to re-open in early May, I sent all members a "Survey Monkey" survey asking their comfort level with group riding. I proposed the items that had been suggested in a USA Cycling Zoom meeting, and we offered to do the following:

  • Pre-ride non-contact temperature checks for all riders (including coaching/parents)
  • Wearing masks at the meeting/start point (a quiet parking lot)
  • Wearing masks at any stops we make (often a coffee/snack break)
  • The team leader controls the distribution of sponsor-supplied nutrition. In the past, members would just grab gels, chews, or wafels as they wanted, and now I have them point to what they want and I pass it to them with a gloved hand
  • Proper ride etiquette
  • Avoiding large groups

We had only three riders the first week, and after that, we were back to "normal" (8 to 10 riders) for several weeks. Then, something unexpected happened- we now have had 15 to 20 with us on every ride for the past two months!

For the first elite program camp, we followed the above protocols. For the second camp, which involved overnight tent camping, the riders also needed either a negative COVID test or a 14-day quarantine prior to attending the camp. I am happy to report that no riders (regular or elite teams) have experienced illness since we started riding again in May.

If you are interested in helping clubs like Velosport grow the sport of cycling, please consider donating to the USA Cycling Foundation's Center of Excellence: DONATE HERE

Photo Courtesy:

Drew Kogon- Team photo, Overlooking clouds photo, Hang loose photo

Brian Weaver- Podium photo, Tour De Murrieta photo