After over a year of specific preparation, many, many, many group training camps and at the age of 17, I was fortunate enough to be selected to be part of the cycling team that would represent Zimbabwe at the 1991 Junior World Cycling Championships in Colorado Springs, USA.
Unlike today where the juniors and senior events are combined, back in those days the Junior World’s were held as a separate event and the road events combined with that of the track disciplines.
If I am not mistaken, we were the first team from Africa (most certainly Southern Africa) to participate, so it was a big honour. With no track cycling in the country, Zim were sending cyclists to participate in the two road disciplines: The road race and the gruelling 70km Team Time Trial.
Remember these were the days before digital cameras and social media, but on a recent trip back home I came across a book containing a bunch of photos taken either by myself or with my camera and so decided to digitise some of the better ones:
Team Presentation – Zimbabwe Junior Cycling Team with Coach and Manager
Left to right: Jason Whitehead, Nathan Jones, Steve Draver (Coach), Alan Harrison, James walker, Topper (Manager), Craig Dunn, Gary O’Hara
Winner: Jeff Evanshine (USA)
The winner was Jeff Evanshine, who was the first American since Greg LeMond in 1979 to win a Junior Road World Championship Road Race. After missing an out-of-competition drug test on the eve of the 1992 US Olympic Trials, he was banned for 3 months and quit cycling to join the US Army. He did make a comeback and rode professionally for the Saturn professional team in 1996 and 1997.
3rd: Eddy Mazzoleni (Italy)
Turned professional, notable achievements include a 3rd place finish on stage 16 to Pau in the 2005 Tour de France and 3rd overall in the 2007 Giro d’Italia behind Danilo Di Luca (1st) and Andy Schleck (2nd). He left the Astana in 2007 after being implicated in the Italian Oil for Drugs case and was given a two-year suspension due to his involvement.
6th: Fred Rodriguez (USA)
“Fast Freddie” Rodriguez turned professional and is a four-time National Road Race Champion and a four-time Tour de Georgia stage winner. On his palmarès includes, winning Stage 9 of the 2004 Giro d’Italia where he beat Italian sprinter Alessandro Petacchi. In 2002 he also came close winning both the Milan-San Remo and Gent–Wevelgem where on both occasions he finished second to Italian super sprinter Mario Cipollini.
7th: Henk Vogels (Australia)
Retired in 2008 as a professional. Henk was the 1999 Australian national road race Champion. His father, Henk Vogels (Snr) competed in the team pursuit at the 1964 Summer Olympics.