Ed. Note: This article was originally posted in June 2013. On 9/24 Zeke Mostov won a bronze medal at the JR World Time Trial Championships. In 2008 Taylor Phinney was the bronze medalist, he lost to Poland’s Michal Kwiatkowski, and then in 2010 Lawson Craddock won a bronze medal. Mostov, a NorCal native, is joining an elite cadre of cyclists that make up “Generation Clean.” We often think NorCal is one of the best places for cyclists to develop, but it’s focus and dedication, the kind Zeke Mostov exhibits, that really puts it together.
Story and Photos by Tim Westmore
Earlier this year, at the 3-Etappen-Rundfahrt der Rad-Junioren in Germany, NorCal bicycle racer Zeke Mostov (Slipstream-Craddock Junior Development Team) placed second overall in the general classification of the three-day stage race.
“I started out riding at 12 at a skateboard camp,” described Mostov. “Some of the instructors had fixies and I thought this is really cool. One of the instructors told me about Hellyer Velodrome. At that point every other Saturday there was a junior session in the morning. That was my only riding and on a borrowed bike.
“When I first started I enjoyed track more,” continued Mostov, who now prefers road. “Last year I only spent the week prior to Nationals on the track.
“Eventually I got a road bike and my first big race was Cat’s Hill. I got dropped once everybody clipped in. I joined Team Swift and raced at Track Nationals but finished second-to-last”
Mostov’s early races do show a lot of double-digit finishes but this quickly changed.
On top of this year’s feat in Germany, Mostov’s results now include seven top-ten finishes at the 2012 Junior Track Nationals, including a first place in the 15-16 Scratch race. He is a time trial winner at the 2012 Juniors U23 Elite Road Nationals and winner in his age-group at the Dunlap Time Trial for the past 3 years.
“To be competing at an international level and to earn best young rider among the best kids from other nations [is my favorite achievment so far],” declared Mostov.
“In the short term I want to develop myself as a rider, compete at a high level, and learn to be part of a team. In the long term I hope to see how high I can take this and perhaps go Pro Tour.
“Something like the Tour de France would be amazing but there are a lot of steps in between. I’d just like to become a well-rounded rider and reach that level.”
Mostov looks up to “the guys I ride with on Slipstream-Craddock everyday, that keep racing fun on and off the bike, and anybody that rides aggressively and attacks a lot.
“It would have been cool to race against someone like Eddie Merckx. If I had raced back in the day it would have been on a whole other level. Even just to ride and meet him would have been awesome.”
The Slipstream-Craddock philosophy for developing junior racers ranks as important to Mostov. “It’s a really big part. Before I joined Slipstream Craddock, run by Christian Williams, I raced without understanding the bigger picture.”
“Slipstream-Craddock is trying to build a team with someone that doesn’t have a fuss over anything, can deal with whatever is thrown at them, and can work in a team environment.”
“[Someone that] not necessarily looks for their own result but looks for the result as a team and getting riders to the next level. It is all about bringing riders up to the next level, to take long pulls up front on a flat stage, ride tempo up a mountain, or negotiate a field sprint.”
Mostov competes at a racing of 17 but the youngster has all of the usual challenges of a teenager. He likes to hang out with friends or play a pick up game of basketball. School takes up much of his time.
“My biggest challenge is staying focused on training and racing. There are a lot of other [distractions] like school and girls. A lot of things happening in the world can take your attention off cycling.
“It’s a very big time commitment especially in high school. You see all your friends doing something different after school. It’s not necessarily a bad thing but staying focused on cycling [is an obstacle].
“If there’s some day I don’t want to ride I’m not really pushed. So there is a lot of internal motivation, internal commitment. My parents will help but they don’t push. I appreciate that. It makes my connection and my drive to succeed a lot deeper.
“Despite the distractions I have done well enough. There is a balance and so far I haven’t found myself on the wrong side of that balance. You’ve got to keep an equilibrium in your life and still have fun with everything.”
Mostov also knows the side of his bread with the butter and gives thanks to his many sponsors: DZ Nuts, Castelli, Mavic, Infinit Nutrition, Clif Bar, and Arundel. “I really want to thank my parents because they help me out, keep me going, keep the sport in me.”
Northern California is fortunate to produce excellent bicycle racing as well as see locals perform well at many levels. This includes up and coming riders such as Zeke Mostov who comes across as a lad striving for focus and balance and a top-notch cycling career.
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