Bellingham teen vies for US cycling team spot

THE BELLINGHAM HERALDOctober 6, 2013 

Cooper Rombold is one step closer to the ultimate cycling goal: the Tour de France.

Rombold, 15, will attend the USA Cycling National Talent Identification Camp from Oct. 9-13, in Chula Vista, Calif. Rombold was invited to the camp after attending a regional talent camp.

"They have a couple of tests where they measure your watts per kilogram output," Rombold, who is from Bellingham and attends Sehome High School, said in a phone interview. "They also look at your past results and results from mock races from camp."

Rombold's first race was Bellingham's Tour de Whatcom, which he competed in with his dad, John Rombold, when he was 11. After placing 25th in the race and watching the Tour de France, Cooper Rombold was hooked on cycling.

"Watching those guys going up the mountains (in the Tour de France) was kind of entrancing," he said.

Rombold rides for the Fanatik Bike Co race team, run by Stewart Bowmer. Rombold is one of four junior cyclists on the team, which includes riders of all age groups.

"It's fun to ride with the older guys on the team because they're really experienced and fast," Rombold said.

Rombold recently outgrew his racing bike and is borrowing a teammate's for the time being. He is riding a Cannondale Supersix Evo, which he had modified to have electronic gear shifting.

One of Rombold's favorite events was the North Shore Road Race. In 2012 Rombold competed in the Category 4/5 heat of the race and placed 31st out of 40 riders, which disappointed him, he said. In 2013 he won the Category 4/5 heat and improved his time at the race by more than five minutes. A few hours later he won the Junior B Boys race as well.

Rombold is looking forward to improving as a cyclist at the National Talent Identification Camp. The camp invitees will work on cycling skills and listen to talks about nutrition and health. For Rombold, getting to the camp is just another goal he has accomplished.

"This year it was a big goal for me to get to the national camp," he said. "They invite people from across the country to attend and if you're good enough you get to race in Europe."

The national camp attracts a lot of skilled cyclists and a lot of fierce competition. There will be two field tests measuring the riders' outputs, and two mock races.

"Guys are just going to hammer it. It's not going to be friendly, I don't think," Rombold said. "I just hope to go down there, give it my all, and see what happens. My goal (in cycling) is just to get as far as I can."

Reach Alex Peterson at alex.peterson@bellinghamherald.com or call 360-715-2285.

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