Q&A with Evan Huffman, 2016 Amgen Tour of California King of the Mountain Winner
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that the best climber at this year’s AMGEN Tour of California spent time training at the Mammoth Lakes Crib. Evan Huffman (Rally Cycling) did his home state proud with a monster ride in the challenging 2nd stage and put a stranglehold on the polka dot jersey (given to the KOM leader) that he wore all the way to Sacramento and the podium of North America’s biggest stage race.
We caught up with Huffman following the tour:
You’ve obviously experienced success in the saddle before but where does this rank in terms of your accomplishments to date?
Evan Huffman: I’d say it’s at the very top of the list because TOC is such a high caliber event and this year’s route was especially challenging.
As a California kid this must be especially sweet, what was it like to have your family and friends there for something like that?
EH: Absolutely. I was really excited for this race all year with so many stages close to home. It was really cool to have my family and friends there so they could get an up-close view of what I do instead of just hearing me talk about it and understand what all the hard training is for. Cycling’s definitely a lifestyle sport/profession so it affects almost everything I do at home.
When an athlete makes a breakthrough we tend to look for the thing or things that changed in their routine or preparation. Was there something like that for you or was it more the culmination of a process?
EH: I suppose it’s both. I’m always drawing on past experience, making little tweaks to things here and there, but largely trying to focus on the basic things that I know work for me. I also made some significant changes the last 12 months, namely coming to Rally and getting coached by Jesse Moore, both of which I’d say were good moves.
As good as your TOC was, you almost added a stage win with a monster ride in the 2nd stage. When King nipped you at line what goes through your head? There’s clearly some disappointment, but you also have to feel a tremendous sense of accomplishment. How did you balance those two and move forward, which you clearly did quite well?
EH: You basically said it. It was disappointing to miss out on a big win, but I’m also happy with how I rode that stage. I haven’t been in that situation much the last several years, fighting for the win in the final moments of a big race. I’ve chalked it up as a learning experience. Now I know I have the fitness to be there so I just have to keep trying and hopefully I’ll come out on top next time.
What, if anything, did you take from your time in Mammoth Lakes last fall that’s helped you this season?
EH: It was further confirmation of what I already knew, that my body responds really well to altitude. I’m still trying to get a good hold on my life/cycling balance in some ways. On one hand, it’s really nice to be at home in a familiar environment with family and friends. On the other (like I saw in Mammoth Lakes last year), it’s also really nice to “get away from it all” and really focus on training in a cool, new place.
What’s up next for you? Where can we see you next?
EH: Next up is North Star Grand Prix in Minneapolis. Not certain after that, but seems likely I’ll do Cascade and Utah.