As more and more racers are shifting away from the typical team model of racing, creating privateer programs for cyclocross, combining road and gravel summer schedules, or adding seemingly disparate forms of cycling to their roster (think MTB and track), it’s been harder for riders to feel a sense of community. That’s the problem that Jukebox wanted to solve, by bringing together a group of riders experimenting with different ways to embrace cycling, whether it’s riding seven hours with a dachshund on your back or racing for the win at some of the biggest gravel races in the world.
“We want our athletes to all be different. We want to empower our riders to push the envelope with what’s possible in cycling,”Loredo Rucchin, the CEO of Jukebox, said. “Our athletes aren’t constrained to a single discipline, and that’s what makes them unique.”
The initial squad consists of six riders from three countries, with a huge range of cycling backgrounds, experiences and goals in the sport. From Xander Graham, the 12-year-old phenom who lit up the Tour of Britain this season; to Phil Gaimon, the poorly-retired former Pro Tour racer; to Ruby West, a cyclocross champion turned track racer in her spare time, this team will make waves in different races around the world in coming seasons. Three of the riders—Dylan Johnson, Alexey Vermeulen and Adam Roberge—will be participating in Life Time’s Grand Prix, while others will be tackling events like the Cyclocross World Championships.
“I really like that the team embraces all different goals and disciplines, and it’s so open to developing these goals outside of just racing really fast,” Vermeulen said. “When I left the road, part of my goal was to establish more community, and I’ve been able to do that, and now I can in a bigger way. This isn’t like it is a team but in the sense of the word a traditional word of team. It doesn’t exist like that. We all have some different sponsors. We all have different events we’ll go to. But we will be at some events together, and we all get to experience cycling in the way that best fits us, which for me means blending racing with creating communities.”
Before the gravel racing begins, Ruby West will be heading to Arkansas to take part in cyclocross World Championships. “It’s been a dream come true to work with such a supportive, excited staff of people at Jukebox who love cycling as much as I do, with other riders who are doing amazing things in the sport,” West said. “It’s exciting to be part of a group of people who really genuinely love cycling.”
Alexey Vermeulen, a 26-year-old dachshund-loving former LottoNL-Jumbo racer turned gravel aficionado from Boulder, Colorado. Though he started his career on skinny tires, he traded his standings in the WorldTour for dirt and knobby tires in 2018. But he doesn’t just ride bikes: He inspires others to try their hand at racing, thanks to his latest project, From the Ground Up. He joins Jukebox with a full schedule for 2022, including the Life Time Grand Prix six-race series including two big events for From the Ground Up… plus some road racing, because despite doing many of his training miles with a dachshund on his back, he still has a need for speed.
Ruby West, the 22-year-old Canadian cyclocrosser. Ruby West was born to be an athlete—seriously, her dad was an Olympic swimmer!—but rather than dive into the pool, Ruby fell in love with cycling at a young age. Her career started in cyclocross, where she’s scored three National Championship titles, and recently, she’s added track racing to the mix while still managing to squeak out a second place finish in her first cyclocross Elite Women’s Pan-American Championships. With a schedule that’s packed with World Cups and World Championships on the track and the ‘cross course, she’s still making time for rest and recovery, and a few hot laps with her family’s latest farm addition, a donkey named Gracie.
Phil Gaimon, the “retired” pro. When Phil Gaimon left the pro peloton after years on the WorldTour circuit, he didn’t exactly rest on his laurels. Sure, he had raced the Tour de France and almost every other major bike race you could think of… but at 30 years old, retirement wasn’t exactly in the cards. Instead, he authored three books, started a podcast, created a cookie-fueled Fondo, and started hunting down Strava KOMs on some of the world’s toughest climbs, sharing the journey on his YouTube Channel. When he refers to it as the ‘worst retirement ever,’ he’s not lying. And he’s also not slowing down (both on and off the bike). In addition to planning a wedding this spring, Phil is also working on new events, including one to raise money for No Kid Hungry, and of course, his now-classic Phil’s Cookie Fondo in October.
Dylan Johnson, the science nerd who’s obsessed with endurance. You might know Dylan Johnson from the Internet, where he posts lengthy YouTube videos breaking down the science of cycling, from how well suspension really works to how to improve your FTP. Or you might know him from mountain bike ultra-endurance racing, which he’s been doing since he tackled his first 100-miler at 15 years old. Or maybe you saw him this last season when he burst onto the gravel scene, taking third place overall in the Belgian Waffle Triple Crown. With Jukebox, he’ll be targeting the Life Time Grand Prix in his second full gravel-focused season.
Adam Roberge, the Canadian pro road racer who made the shift away from the UCI pro team structure to racing on the dirt in 2021. The three-time U23 Canadian Time Trial National Champion had a first year of gravel racing worth celebrating. The 24-year-old finished on the podium at BWR Asheville, Gravel Locos, Rooted Vermont and the Défi 404km Gravel race, and this season, he’ll be tackling the Life Time Grand Prix along with plenty of other major gravel events like the Belgian Waffle series.
Xander Graham, the 12-year-old superstar. If you haven’t heard of Xander Graham yet, you must not follow pro road racing. Sure, he’s only 12, but he still managed to sprint up a hill at the Tour of Britain so quickly that the race leaders couldn’t quite keep up with him. That moment on the hill might have put the spotlight on Xander as one speedy pre-teen, but even without making it onto Jumbo-Visma for a day, he’s got plenty of palmares to brag about. He’s the reigning Scottish Cyclocross Champion, and despite his young age, he’s got big plans for a pro cycling career—and for a career as a social media consultant.