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Centers of Excellence

Get to know LUX Cycling

By: Page Heller  August 08, 2020

LUX Cycling is an elite U19 development team aimed to educate and empower the top junior riders in the United States to succeed at the highest levels of competitive cycling and in life.

The LUX Cycling program is located in Southern California and currently has 21 riders from all over the United States.

We had the opportunity to speak with Roy Knickman, director sportif, and manager, for LUX Cycling Development Team, and ask about their team background, values, and successes!

Can you tell me a little bit about LUX and your background?

LUX is unique in that my background is based on a lifetime of experience with me starting with the Junior club and as an Olympic Training Center resident athlete at 16 years old, in 1980. The things that I have learned being exposed to the sport at an international level, I made an Olympic team and got a medal, fresh out of juniors, raced as a professional in Europe, and spent some time back at USA cycling as national team coach in the 90’s. We have progressed to a place of, we will call it elite development, where the skill set we have and connections and structure that we've put together is aimed at those athletes who have shown extreme dedication, a reasonable amount of talent but desire to continue up the development pipeline. The other side of it is personal development, which is also a very important part of it. Cycling is a tool of learning and experience of gaining the confidence of failing, of creating successes from failure, which they are going to carry through life, whether it's school, job, community involvement. So we do have two kinds of different aspects of our club but they are tied very closely together. Now, the one thing also that makes us unique over the last four or five years is having more and more national team athletes. We developed a good level of communication and we have built our program around the needs and the schedule of the national team trips.

What team culture and values do you emphasize within your club?

The team is a family and we also emphasize kindness. You need to be gracious in defeat and gracious in victory as well. You need to be humble, even when you are successful. The riders are asked to think on their own, going into a race. We will have a basic team plan and they need to adapt and talk within the race and try different things as they go and that is how they are going to learn how to think. If they make a choice that doesn't work they are rewarded for actually thinking and making a choice. It does create an environment of risk-taking, where they feel safe to take risks and to try some different things racing-wise, which when you can do that, it makes it a lot more fun.

What do you think makes LUX so successful?

The culture that we believe in them and openness for me as the director of the program, to learn from other people, or take people's advice. We look at what an athlete doesn't have- if the athlete doesn't have a good coach, and the athlete could barely get out to races for a year because they didn't have the means to go to biking races, if they had poor equipment, you look at all these other factors. If we can provide these things for this athlete, there is a huge amount of gain possible- which is different than if you take a person who has everything they need and you just put them on your team. That to me isn't necessarily developing, that is just taking their results and then re-labeling them in your jerseys. I look deeper into the results and into what a coach or competitors may be saying about the athlete and having an understanding of where their potential lies.

What makes LUX cycling so special for the juniors that ride for the team?

As a team, we go to the most races of anybody, of any of the junior teams. This is done independently, without their parents. Also, like a pro-team, they are picked up at the airport, they go to team housing, they are treated like a professional team. It is the family atmosphere and creates an environment of empowerment. They are being taken care of at a high level at the bigger competitions. I will have a plan for every rider on the team as to how to help them achieve their goal. We are teaching them how to race in the European Peloton and seeing how I've done it, it makes it easy for them to believe what I'm saying when you have had that experience yourself. I take pride in the success stories of the kids that nobody knew, who have come out and performed well and learned some things, and gained confidence.

The final thing is our biggest successes come from the maturity the kids are learning, leaving the program, and the opportunities that they generate for themselves from this confidence and this independence and problem-solving. Outside of cycling, it is the character of the riders and what they are doing afterward. Many young athletes are going to perform at these huge levels, but it is also the kids who come out of it with great experiences and have success and understand how the world works.

If you are interested in helping clubs like LUX grow the sport of cycling, please consider donating to the USA Cycling Foundation's Center of Excellence: DONATE HERE

Photos Courtesy of Danny Munson