A Storm Brewing from the Coast
4 September 2013
At the 33rd Copperopolis Road Race earlier this year, a slight-framed racer could be seen up front with some of NorCal’s best. The blue-clad rider would take third in that race, behind Chuck Hutcheson (Marc Pro-Strava) and eventual winner Stephen Leece (California Giant Berry Farms/Specialized).
The rider met with NorCal Cycling News recently; as he walked toward a Peninsula coffee shop, his head was tilted slightly forward in the same workman-like fashion as he so often appears on the bike.
Yet this is no journeyman bicycle-racer. The young man is 16 year-old Adrien Costa, racing for the Slipstream-Craddock Junior Development Team.
Costa began 2013 with a win at the San Bruno Hill Climb (Pro/1/2). He continued to impress, in Northern California, with more victories at Sea Otter (Junior 17-18) and Pesky (Pro/1/2). There was also an impressive second place overall, at the Madera County Stage Race, just 65 seconds off the time set by Kirk Carlsen.
Costa could become an immensely successful bicycle-racer.
At this year’s Road Nationals in Wisconsin, racing in his Junior 15-16 age group, Costa stormed all over the competition. He won the 20km time trial and the 71km road race before becoming a victim to a crash in the criterium. Costa said he was disappointed with the incident more so because he was unable to help his teammates.
“Winning back-to-back races at Nationals this year is important,” remarked Costa. “But then again, those races weren’t as hard as some races here.
“Pescadero was pretty cool because it was such a long race. It was one of the few races that [the team] played right technically and had everything go how we wanted. Before the last climb I just went.
“Having Zeke Mostov helps so much because he takes the pressure off. He’s so good at going in the breaks. He knows how to ride in the wind. We’re always launching off each other. We’ve been working super-well together.”
As Costa reflected on his time trial at Mt. Hood, the Junior in him is learning. “I was super excited for the race since it has tons of climbing and a really cool time trial coarse. At the time trial I was pumped up and felt really good going over the main climb. On the descent I got carried away and crossed a few times trying to take the shortest line.”
Officials assessed Costa a 60-second time penalty for centerline violation that eventually took away a top-ten finish in GC. “I guess it was the inexperience and not having the voice in your head telling me to be careful. I was going all out.”
“My grandparents on both my Mom and Dad’s side are from France,” described Costa, on his start in bicycle-racing, “and obviously [bicycle racing] is a bigger part of the culture there than here.
“[My Mom's Dad and] I would ride around on the mountain bike trails. That got me super-into it. We’d go over every summer and watch the tour. I knew all the riders by heart when I was five or six.
“I got into soccer but then realized that wasn’t really my thing. I switched back when I was twelve and have been [bicycle-racing] ever since.”
Costa started at the track, doing well there. “It was hard at first,” he continued. “At Nationals I was mid to back of the pack the first couple of years. Slowly, the last two or three years it’s been getting a lot better.”
As a rider that Costa admires, Greg Lemond came to mind. “My coach Harvey Nitz used to train with Greg Lemond as a Junior. Whenever we [Harvey and I] talk on the phone, he says ‘you ride like Greg used to’ or ‘your just like him’.
“So it would have been cool to ride with [Lemond] and get to meet him. I am sure he has the same philosophy as my coach and I think we would have gotten on well.”
For next season, Costa aims to go to Europe again with the National team. “Since I call myself a climber, there are a couple of races that have quite a bit of climbing. I’ve measured myself against some of the best here but I want to see what they have over there. To see how I stack up and try do well.
“I want to go Pro and ride the grand tours. Hopefully become a contender for an overall win but that’s still a ways out.”
Taking classes both in and out of public school, Costa will finish high-school one year early. His schedule allows the freedom to train and take trips to Europe during the school year. “There are counselors,” continued Costa, “but mostly my parents help me out. The Principle has been flexible letting me do so much outside [school]. I think they realize it’s good to have interests outside when we’re doing sports very competitively.
“[Balancing my social life] is harder, for sure,” said Costa. “You don’t have time to just hang out in the afternoon. Around the bike-racing scene, just the guys I ride with, we hang out afterwards.”
“I love downhill and cross-country skiing. During the winter we’d go up a few weekends a year. Cross-country’s more for the workout and downhill’s just for fun.”
Costa also likes to play the guitar and, fortunately, his first song learned was not “Smoke on the Water.”
“I want to thank my team and parents for all the support they’ve given financially and logistically,” acknowledged Costa. “Just having them behind, supporting me, makes me know I can reach my full potential.”
Out here on the West Coast there is certainly much potential in Adrien Costa.
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