By Jeff Kolpack, Published April 28 2009
North grad rides among bicycling elitePatrick Lemieux said he’ll never win the Tour de France. But he’s doing just fine with the Tour de Other Stuff in the United States these days.
The 21-year-old Fargo North graduate joined the 18-member Texas Roadhouse Cycling Team this year, an invitation sent only to those who have reached elite status. He’ll spend the next several months traveling to races across the country.
The full-time speech communications student at Minnesota State Mankato has a full-time hobby. He’s scheduled to compete in 85 races that will encompass at least 20 different states this year.
Call him on his cell phone and odds are he’ll be in a car driving somewhere. Last week, it was to Iowa City, Iowa, for an event on the University of Iowa campus.
“I really think we’re one of the best amateur teams in the country and hopefully we’ll give pro teams a run for the money,” he said.
The 6-foot-4 Lemieux reached Category 1 status of racing, the highest level possible, when he was 19 years old.
A big breakthrough came last August when he finished third overall in the Tour of Elk Grove in Chicago, a race of more than 100 riders that yielded a $3,000 payday.
“That made me realize what I’m capable of,” Lemieux said. “That was the one result that put me on paper to get on Texas Roadhouse.”
Most of Lemieux’s races are criteriums, which normally consist of laps ranging from 1 kilometer to a mile and a half with a total between 40 and 100 miles.
They’re not all, full-out throttle races, either. Strategy often comes into play and Lemieux said the strongest rider doesn’t always win.
“It’s one big chess match,” he said.
Lemieux has been racing for eight years. Previously, he was aligned with Bianchi Grand Performance in St. Paul. He first started talking with Texas Roadhouse last September and the team told him it would let him know in three weeks.
It ended up being two months.
“I thought it wasn’t going to happen and I was ready to continue with the team I was with for three years already,” he said. “Then I got the call.”
A personal goal is to race in Europe as a professional rider, he said.
“Honestly, four or five years ago, I thought I would never have made it this far,” he said. “Now I’m in the same position. If I made it this far, what’s stopping me from moving up even more?”
Jeff Kolpack can be heard on the WDAY Golf Show, 10 a.m. to noon on WDAY-AM (970). He can be reached at (701) 241-5546.
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