“It was a pretty horrendous winter this year weather wise. It kept snowing and snowing so I was on the trainer until I left for California two weeks ago,” said Jordan Cheyne who resides in Kelowna, B.C. “I didn’t have a whole lot of confidence despite good numbers on the trainer before I left.”
After a heavy week of training with his Jelly Belly presented by Maxxis team, Cheyne said that he knew he was going well heading into the first race of the season, the San Dimas Stage Race (March 24 to 26).
Stage 1 was a time trial and the 15 minute effort required was a tricky one. “In the past I have had trouble pacing that TT but this time I got pretty close to the best out of myself,” Cheyne, who finished third 20-seconds back from the winner, said about the ride that set him up for a strong finish in the general classification. “Saturday was status quo. I had a flat tire but the team helped me get back.”
The final stage was a criterium and after missing a move which contained the rider sitting second overall, Cheyne was able to bridge across to the group with the help of a teammate after a long chase. The aggressive move survived with Cheyne moving up to second overall.
“This result this weekend is a bit of a breakthrough. It shows what I am capable of. I am confident in my form, I know my power to weight is pretty good. I have been told that I can win at the NRC level,” Cheyne explained about his progression. “For some people it’s easy and natural to get that talent out on the road, for me it’s been a process. I’ve had health problems and off years. I hope this is the start of me showing off my potential which will naturally open doors.”
Cheyne joined American UCI continental team Jelly Belly presented by Maxxis in 2016 after a strong 2015 season which included third place in the TT at the 2015 Tour de Beauce. “Before I joined I had heard this was the fun team and sure enough right from the get-go we had a lot of laughs,” he said. “It’s a very close group of guys. A lot of teams take themselves very seriously. It’s not that we don’t take races seriously but we try to always have fun even when the pressure is on.”
For 2017, he earned a coveted second contract thanks to his work supporting teammate Lachlan Morton to GC wins at the Tour of the Gila and the Tour of Utah. “With Lachlan’s move to the WorldTour a few of us need to step up,” Cheyne said noting that it’s an opportunity for him and his teammates.
The team’s strategy and goals will development throughout the season but Cheyne is looking forward to opportunities to go for his own chances. “Beauce suits me down to the ground with the time trial and steep climb up Mont Megantic,” he said about the UCI 2.2 stage race. “We have some strong guys on the team who I will ride in support of but maybe at Cascades and Redlands I could go for my own results.”
The team has one of the biggest race schedules in North America and as one of only two continental teams invited to the Tour of California, which was promoted to the WorldTour in 2017, the team has the opportunities to showcase their talent. The selection created a bit of a stir with teams that missed out voicing their frustration with the selection process.
“There might be more outward pressure especially with some teams missing out on selection. In recent years the caliber of the Tour of California has gone up. It’s an all hands on deck effort,” said Cheyne about the team’s plans for the biggest stage race in North America. “We do extra training camps, bring in extra staff. We will go for results whether that means hunting stage wins from a breakaway or classification jerseys.”
Cheyne spent his development years riding with Matteo Dal-Cin whose UCI Continental Rally Cycling team started the season with a block of racing in Europe. Asked where he sees his own career going he said, “I could see myself racing in Europe but I really know the racing scene in North America. Someone like Rob Britton (Rally Cycling) who has decided to stay in North America, I admire that approach.”
His present focus will be on contributing to his team and working towards opening new doors in his career. “I hope to stay in the sport for a while and I feel I am just taking getting started.” With plans to get married this year and develop his business Peak Form Coaching which he said is a supplement to his racing and a way to give back to people, Cheyne also managed to keep busy off the bike.