Monteleone ready to help team in Criterium Championship
Chris Monteleone knows that it is unlikely that he will win the USA Cycling Professional Criterium National Championship race Saturday that is the featured event at the High Point Cycling Classic.
The Elkin native heartily accepts that in his role for the Winston-Salem based Team SmartShop-Mountain Khakis, which will be one of top teams entered.
If the race plays out as expected, Monteleone will serve as a wind break for the team’s sprinters until they break out of the pack, or peleton, in the final yards of the 110-minute race and dash toward the finish line along with the sprinters from other teams.
The winner gets to wear the champion’s red, white and blue jersey for a year.
“My job this weekend and in the other criteriums is to help our sprinters get to the finish line first,” Monteleone said. “I’m getting to race bicycles as a pro and I’ll do whatever it takes for the team to win.”
But, there is no guarantee that it will come down to a sprint.
“Nobody knows what is going to happen,” Montelone said. “Every race is different. We hope that it will come down to a sprint. Somebody might try to breakaway from the pack. Once we see the course on Saturday, we’ll have our strategy. But you don’t know how it’s going to play out.”
Monteleone, 25, is in his fifth season racing as a pro and rides for Team SmartShop in two other disciplines — time trials and road races. He counts finishing second in a national 23-and-under road race as his biggest accomplishments.
“I’m not great at anyone thing but I’m decent at all three,” Monteleone said. “Some guys are better are one event.”
Montelone got the cycling bug riding mountain bikes and some on the road as a kid.
“I started going on long rides with a neighbor after church on Sundays,” Montelone said. “Eventually, I was able to challenge him and eventually I beat him. I caught the bug and then I got the clothes and the shoes and the helmet and finally I got a bike and it all snowballed. And now, 12 years later I’m riding professionally all over the country and around the world.”
It snowballed because he progressed through the five categories by which cyclists are ranked according to performance and first got a chance to race professionally for Team SmartShop in 2007. He left for two years, came back in 2009 and continues to live his dream.
“I don’t want to do anything else,” Monteleone said. “But, you’ve go out and perform your role. It’s a job like anything else. If you don’t live up expectations, the team is going to get someone else.”
And he knows his role come Saturday.