Most Bloomington riders know Bennet Van der Genugten and have suffered on his wheel over the past few years! After attending Bloomington North HS and dabbling in both swimming and cycling he dedicated himself to biking after his senior swim season was over. This lead to a hugely successful collegiate racing career at Cumberland University, Indiana University and latterly at Marian College. In the past two years he became National Collegiate Track Omnium Champion and Midwest Conference Road Champion. Since graduating at the end of last year Bennet signed a professional contract with the Kenda Pro Cycling p/b Spinergy team. Bennet kindly agreed to answer a few questions about his expectations for the first year in the paid ranks.
BloomingtonVeloNews- Congratulations in the pro contract- talk us through how you came to sign with Kenda Pro Cycling p/b Spinergy?
Bennet Van der Genugten- First, thanks for taking a minute to speak with me and share my season with the home-town crew! Last season I was on Team Inferno, which was the same management company that owns Kenda Pro Cycling. So it has been a slowly developing almost family network of sponsors, managers and riders culminating in the UCI team Kenda Pro Cycling p/b Spinergy. Last year I had a very consistent season with a few big results that landed publicity for the team, and found my way in the lead-out train as the third man in line for the sprint, so showing that I could make my way off the front for individual success and sacrifice myself for others in the sprint secured my spot on the professional roster.
BVN- I read you have a manager (Marco Aledia) .Was there much in the way of negotiation with regard the number of years or what the contract involved?
BVDG- The contract is for one year, and is expected to be re-negotiated for the 2010 season and beyond in mid summer. Marco and I had some long talks about the contract and really what the team offered initially was quite reasonable, especially with the economic climate as it is. We are a modest team with intentions of being a ‘giant-killer’ and we are a family before a business. As such contract negotiations were handled over a coffee and a smile and not in suits!
BVN- Now you are a full-time rider have you changed your training to cater for having more opportunities to ride?
BVDG- Absolutely. The level of races we’ll be competing in this year demands it. Since graduating college I have as much time as I need to train and take advantage of it every day. Everything I do from sun-up to sun-down is focused on racing, I realize what a great opportunity this is for me, and how many good young riders are vying for my spot every year and will not waste it. My mileage has increased significantly and my training has been tailored to prepare me for races like the Tour of Missouri and Pro road nationals (Ed- Bennet modestly omitted that he thinks he has shed 15lbs since last season!).
BVN- You have raced already this year in AZ (the Valley of the Sun Stage Race) and have of course trained with plenty of people other than your teammates. Now you are a professional rider do you have different expectations about how you needed to perform when in the group? Similarly do you feel the other riders treat you differently both racing and training?
BVDG- Wearing a professional jersey was an eye opener indeed. I feel like the same guy, I AM the same guy! But the cycling world doesn’t see me the same anymore. When I’m on a group ride, people look to you when they have a question, they ask you for a pee break, they ask you what sort of tires to buy! (KENDA BABY!!!) This sort of magnifying glass has helped me grow personally as a leader in the riding community. At a certain point in Tucson I realized that I was no longer a 17 year old kid enthralled by the best guy in town but that I was one of those guys and had a responsibility to look after the other riders, especially the younger ones.
BVN- You have just got back from Kenda training camp in Greenville SC. We can read on your blog about how it went down but do you now have a clearer idea about what your role within the team might be?
BVDG- Team camp is always fun week. I think more than an athletic endeavor it is important to bond with your team-mates and the staff that will support you all season. That being said we are a professional racing team, and you don’t get to that level without riding hard. Therefore we had opportunities to test each other out: lead-out practice for the sprinters and a pain session up Paris Mountain (the pro nationals hill) with the skinny boys. We split into groups in the lead-outs, and I was the final lead-out for youngster Ben Renkema and we were killing it! I dropped Ben off at about 38mph and he said he reached 41mph, so I was very happy with that. Afterwards I also joined the skinny boys for Paris and set some tempo with Jake Rytlewski, our main GC rider. Those support roles being said, you can expect me to vie for my own glory off the front on every possible occasion.
The Kenda Procycling Team p/b Spinenergy
BVN- Do you now know your race schedule and did you have any input into what that might be? How does that compare with the other guys on the team?
BVDG-Yes we had a lengthy meeting over our schedule and I signed my name on quite a few events. I am one of a few guys who don’t have a family or a second job, and can ride in any scenario, so I will be moving around quite a bit. Crits, track, stage races, bring it on!
BVN- Any chance we’ll see you at the Bloomington Criterium on July 18th?
BVDG- Oh man! I always miss that race. I think I will be in Vancouver for B.C. Superweek.
BVN- Are there any races you are particularly looking forward to?
BVDG- I have a few selected with big gold stars next to them on the fridge so I can be reminded of my goals every time I want an extra snack! The Nature Valley GP Stage Race will be a big one, as well as Philly week then later in the year the Tour of Missouri and Pro road nationals.
BVN- Any (brief) advice to a young rider who is looking to make it to the professional ranks and is wondering whether it might be better to either attend/ don’t attend college in the US or try and go to Europe?
BVDG- Brief? Haha, you know me too well! Each rider is different, and their paths need to be too. All too often guys try to bail on college and go pro, maybe they make it and maybe they don’t. At the end of their career they have no money, no degree, and no job. So I see college as a really good way to develop your body into that of a professional while looking ahead. I also think that the professional life is simply not for most people and it often takes some time to figure that out. I think going to college whilst you do that is a great idea.
BVN- And finally at the end of the season what achievements will see you satisfied with your first year in the pros?
BVDG- In a lot of ways I am already very satisfied. I am living the life I love to lead, I get to see the country and I’m doing it amongst some of my best friends. That’s not a bad gig, eh? Sporting wise though, I do set very high expectations for myself, and winning an NRC race and staying healthy and focused while making good results from April to October will leave a smile on my face though to 2010.
Thanks the Bennet for sitting down with us and all of us in Bloomington wish him all the best for the coming season and beyond!
3 days ago