CX Athlete Feature: Gage Hecht
Gage Hecht, 21, started racing in 2007 where he quickly found success at the local Colorado Cyclocross and Road Series in the junior ranks. He is a Junior Cyclocross National Champion and has won several UCI U23 races as well as the the 2018 Continental Championships. He continues to prove that he is one of the best as he competes for the Road and Cyclocross U.S. National teams and attended the European Cross Camp supported by the Mud Fund. Hecht tells us more about his road and 'cross seasons along with racing with his new team.
How did you get into racing?
I have been riding bikes since I was around three or four and always loved trying to do laps around the col-du-sac that I lived on. I often got in trouble for riding through the neighbor's yards. Before I was born, my dad was a cyclist that competed as a category three rider. Around the time I was born, he had to take a step back from racing to be a father. By the time I turned nine, one of the cyclists that he had helped get involved with the sport informed him that I could start racing as early as eight years old. He took me to a few local races, and I loved it.
How are you managing going from a full road season straight into cyclocross?
I got to take some time off the bike after Le Tour de L'avenir. The break was much needed. It has helped me recover while still holding on to some of the fitness I gained from the road season. It is not always easy managing both, but Aevolo, Donnelly, as well as many of the past development teams I have been on have been very accommodating and willing to help me accomplish successful seasons in both disciplines.
What are you most excited for when you head to the European Cyclocross Camp with USA Cycling?
It's hard for me to pin down one specific thing. I love the comradery of being over in Europe with a group of eager and ambitious American cyclists. I think the one specific thing I am most looking forward to is returning to Koksijde to race in the sand again. It’s such a great course that really challenges the riders technically and physically without making it a turning drill like many American courses seem to be working towards.
You're heading to Europe for a few races and the USA Cycling European Cross Camp. How has this impacted your season?
The MudFund has been a huge help getting me to these races. It allows me an opportunity to get experience racing the best in the world on some of the toughest courses. This sort of opportunity is one that American cyclocross racers need if we hope to someday return riders to the podium at World Championships. The best part is that they are creating a community of riders. I think this is one of the hardest parts of being over in Europe. With a large group of athletes that are eager to put themselves in a position to grow, everyone benefits.
How has the year been going with your new team, Donnelly Aevolo Cycling?
Donnelly Aevolo has been a great program. I have worked with Donn for quite some time and have always been thankful for his amazing support. It has been really exciting to also work with Aevolo in creating an environment that allows me to grow my all-around abilities. They have worked with me to make sure I was accomplishing the achievements that were important to me.
What’s it like racing against one of your top competitors, Lance Haidet, who is also a good friend and teammate?
Honestly, I was a bit concerned about it at first. I have had a good relationship with Lance since we started racing on the road together, but with 'cross being a more individual sport, there tends to be a lot more competition between riders on the team. I feel like Lance and I have been great together this year. We have been able to work together as much as a team can in 'cross and so far, when one of us has had a bad day, the other steps up and still manages to pull a result. Off the bike, it's been great too. Lance and I are both part of Athletes in Action Pro Cycling ministry. I think I’m pretty lucky to have a brother in Christ there with me on the road on all of the trips I am on.
What are your expectations for this year at Nationals?
This year, it's pretty obvious that both Curtis White and Kerry Werner have stepped things up a notch. It is definitely going to be a difficult race to win, but I think that with the right preparations and conditions, Lance and I can work together to put stars and stripes on the Donnelly Aevolo kit.
What does your schedule look like for the rest of the season?
I will join USA Cycling on the upcoming November block of racing. After that, I will return home and prepare for the National Championships. Soon after that, I will head back to Europe for the Christ Period block of racing and as of now, the plan is to remain in Europe through the World Championships in Switzerland.
To cheer on Gage throughout the year, follow him on Instagram @gchecht and Twitter @gagehecht.
Developing athletes like Gage would not be possible without the help and support from the USA Cycling Foundation's MudFund. If you would like to be a part of the future of American Cycling, consider donating today: https://www.usacycling.org/foundation
Visit USACycling.org for more information on the athletes, events, and membership programs, and follow @USACycling across all channels for the latest on Team USA.
Cyclocross Nationals is around the corner! Don't forget to register today! https://www.usacycling.org/events/national-championships/2019-usa-cycling-cyclocross-national-championships