The early season is once again a showcase for new talent. At the Greenville Spring Series a young rider stood out – Philip O’Donnell of Suwanee, Georgia. This fourteen year old was racing in the category Pro 1/ 2 field on restricted junior gears, which means his biggest ratio is a 52×14. With legs spinning like windmills, he was still able to mix it up with the regions best riders – including the RealCyclist.com team, Team Type 1 and BMC’s George Hincapie. In the opening race of the series, the Donaldson road race, O’Donnell finished 24th in the Pro 1/ 2 field and 24th again in the BMW Performance Center criterium.
“My uncle got me into racing and the whole cycling scene in Baltimore,” said Philip. “There was also a local team – Frazier Cycling – that really got me going and I started racing a lot.”
It wasn’t long before Philip was getting strong results. He was the 10-12 year old time trial national champion and the 13-14 year old road and criterium national champion which were held last year in Bend, Oregon. His talent stuck out at the regional USA development camp where he won the uphill time trial test that the coaches use as a benchmark.
For the 2011 racing season O’Donnell is racing for the Specialized Junior Development squad which is based in Northern California.
Riding for a team that is based on the other side of the country can be a challenge.
“I do a lot of traveling. I just came back from Arizona – the Valley of the Sun stage race.” O’Donnell didn’t just race in Arizona, he won the overall general classification in the junior 15-16 division beating the Chipotle Junior devo squad – a feeder for their ProTour counterpart Garmin-Cervélo.
“It’s a lot of fun and (the team) has a lot of resources. My school has been good to me by giving me two study halls and when I get home I train, train, train. Next year we are working on something so I can get out of school earlier.”
By training he means 15 to 16 hours a week on the bike preparing for upcoming races such as the San Dimas Stage Race in Southern California, the Sea Otter road race in Northern California and then back home for the Athens Twilight and Roswell criteriums.
It’s obvious that O’Donnell is a talented rider with a big future in front of him.