Brent Bookwalter has extended his contract with BMC Racing Team and is set to line up for his tenth season with the team in 2017.
Bookwalter joins Danilo Wyss as the longest-serving rider with BMC Racing Team, General Manager Jim Ochowicz said.
“Brent has been part of the BMC Racing Team family for a long time and we have seen his career go from strength to strength during this time. Particularly in the last few years, Brent has enjoyed some fantastic results, and given the long-standing partnership between Brent and BMC Racing Team we didn’t hesitate to extend his contract,” Ochowicz said.
Bookwalter said it has been special to see his career grow at the same time as BMC Racing Team.
“Over the past nine years I have felt that a really good relationship between BMC Racing Team and myself has developed. We have both come a long way since then. Back in 2008 the team was in a totally different place than it is now and I was a much younger, less experienced, different rider too. So it’s been rewarding to have that continuity, to really grow and develop together,” Bookwalter explained.
“We’ve been fortunate enough to experience a lot of success and good memories along the way. At this point in my career, BMC Racing Team feels like a family and it feels like home. I couldn’t imagine walking out to ride in the morning and not putting my leg over a BMC bike.”
Brent will be one of two Americans representing the US in the upcoming 2016 Rio Olympics!
Brent Bookwalter’s cycling mastery continues to turn heads around the globe.
Bookwalter, 32, of Asheville, was named to BMC Racing Team’s Tour de France roster on Wednesday. On Thursday, he was added for the first time to the short list of cyclists on the U.S. Olympic team heading to Rio de Janeiro.
Bookwalter and his BMC Racing teammate Taylor Phinney of Boulder, Colo., were chosen to represent the United States at the Rio Summer Games in the time trial and road race competitions.
According to USA Cycling, Bookwalter is the only American competing in the world’s two biggest cycling races this year, a testament to his cycling skills and never-say-die determination.
“It’s definitely a distinguished honor. To be selected for the Tour team and the Olympics is a career highlight and I’m looking forward to making the most of it,” Bookwalter said Friday from France, where he is training.
“It was definitely a goal, but it’s not the only goal. It doesn’t stop here. I have three demanding and important weeks coming up at the Tour, and then Rio is a once in a lifetime opportunity as well to represent my country. I want to perform and be confident I can do well.”
“Brent’s ability to do time trial and road race is a huge asset. Brent is a seasoned veteran and he’s equipped to handle the course and put us in a great position in Rio,” said Kevin Loughery, communications manager for USA Cycling.
“The road course in Rio is quite long and has four climbs toward back half of the race. That’s something you have to have a special skill set to be able to do. These are the two most coveted road competitions – the Tour de France is the cyclist’s Super Bowl, and the Olympics, a chance to represent your country is a huge honor. It says a lot about what kind of a cyclist Brent is.”
The 22-day, 2,182-mile Tour de France begins July 2. The 256-kilometer (159-mile) Olympic road race begins Aug. 6, two weeks after the Tour ends. The time trial is Aug. 10.
Bookwalter admits that competing in the two races back to back sounds mind-blowing.
“It’s a challenge, but in some ways, also a positive scenario. If you look at the pro men’s cycling medals over the past couple of Olympics, all those athlete also rode in the Tour de France,” he said.
“It’s a hard to explain phenomenon. You push your body so hard and so deep for three weeks, but after one week, the body starts to compensate, you get overcompensation, and then start to get the benefits. It’s hard to wrap your head around for sure. Mentally it’s maybe harder than physically.”
Bookwalter was on the long team for the U.S. Olympics team for the 2012 London Games, but ultimately did not make the final cut.
“It was a lot of incentive for me to work hard in the offseason, to prove to my team that my form was good and I was capable,” he said. “This is the realization of a lot of hard work and the hard work of a lot of other people as well, including my wife (Jamie Bookwalter), my parents (Connie Zinger and Harry Bookwalter, who live in Grand Rapids, Mich.), the Asheville community, my friends, teammates and coaches.”
This will be Bookwalter’s fourth trip to the Tour de France. He said he is fortunate to have the Tour and the Olympics collide in the prime of his career. He has been a professional cyclist for 10 years and has completed seven grand tours, progressing with each race.
He said he discussed going to Rio with his wife of five years about the risks of Zika virus, which has caused some athletes to drop out of the Olympics.
Jamie is a former pro cyclist with a mater’s degree in forestry from the University of Georgia, specializing in invasive insects.
“Jamie is a scientist in her own right. We decided there were some risks, but there was also reward in taking part and representing our country,” Brent said of his wife, whom he met during college at Lees-McRae. “She has been with me through my whole professional career. This is an accomplishment for her as well that I was selected. We’re going take all the precautions. We’re excited to be going.”
ASHEVILLE - Brent Bookwalter was breathing in rarified air Wednesday afternoon.
The Asheville pro cyclist learned he made the cut for BMC Racing Team's Tour de France roster while in the French Alps doing altitude reconnaissance for the team.
“They’ve been pretty tight-lipped and had a hard decision to make with a lot of capable, qualified guys. We’ve all been waiting,” Bookwalter said by phone from France Wednesday.
“It’s a little bit of relief, but also exciting. It’s a nice vote of confidence from the team. Now I can continue on with preparations for the Tour and I can put all my mental and physical efforts into being the best at the start in two weeks.”
This will be the fourth trip to the Tour de France for Bookwalter, 32, who lives in Asheville with his wife, Jamie Bookwalter. He competed with BMC Racing in the Tour in 2010, 2011 and 2013.
The 103rd Tour de France, July 2-24, is considered the most prestigious bike race in the world. Teams can enter by invitation only, and each team can send nine riders.
In addition to Bookwalter, the U.S.-based BMC Racing Team’s Tour roster includes Marcus Burghgardt, Damiano Caruso, Rohan Dennis, Amaël Moinard, Michael Schär, Greg Van Avermaet, and fellow American Tejay van Garderen, who will lead the team with Australian Richie Porte.
Bookwalter is considered a "domestique," or helper, to van Garderen and Porte. In 2011, Bookwalter helped Cadel Evans, an Australian, to a Tour win.
This year’s Tour will begin in La Manche, France, and comprise 21 stages, covering a total distance of 3,519 kilometers, or 2,182 miles, ending in Paris.
About 200 of the world’s greatest cyclists are invited to compete.
Bookwalter said the excitement of hearing he made the Tour roster was just as intense as his first time in 2010. But this time, six years older, he feels more confident in his ability to take on the most strenuous bike race in the world.
“I’ve grown a lot as a rider and a person since my first one in 2010. I feel more capable physically and emotionally, and I have more confidence,” Bookwalter said. “It’s one of the hardest physical and mental things I’ve ever done. It’s the kind of excitement and challenge I still live for.”
Bookwalter joined BMC Racing Team in 2008. The Grand Rapids, Michigan, native attended Lees-McRae College in Banner Elk, where he was a nine-time collegiate national champion and past under-23 national champion.
In 2015, he was part of the overall and team classification victory at the USA Pro Challenge, while winning the second stage and finishing runner-up overall.
In May, he finished third overall in the grueling, eight-stage, 774-mile Amgen Tour of California.
Bookwalter said he will be back in Asheville in August. He said he appreciates all the support he has received from the Asheville community.
Brent and wife Jamie, a former professional cyclist, have thrown themselves into Asheville life since moving here four years ago. They produce the Bookwalter Binge Grand Fondo, which in its third year will be Oct. 29 starting in Black Mountain with courses of 82, 63 and 30 miles. This year the event is a fundraiser for the Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy.
Team BMC Sports Director Yvon Ledanois said on the team’s website Wednesday that it was a difficult decision to fill the Tour roster.
“We have a diverse group of riders, from seven different nationalities, all of whom will play their role, whether it’s our strong domestiques like Marcus Burghardt and Michael Schär, or riders like Greg Van Avermaet and Rohan Dennis who can go for stage wins," Ledanois said. "Then of course we have Brent Bookwalter, Damiano Caruso, and Amaël Moinard for support on the climbs and getting Richie and Tejay where they need to be.”