Alexey Vermeulen has raced on all surfaces and in multiple disciplines and knows it can be gruelling to earn income as a professional cyclist. The ‘Ice King’ in the world of endurance mountain biking and second overall in the 2023 Life Time Grand Prix series, Vermeulen wants to help up-and-coming riders find a less slippery slope than he did to making the bike a vehicle for earning a living.
As an elite athlete and thriving entrepreneur, the US rider wants to share his formula for success, and with the help of ENVE, he launched the Phase II programme, a paid scholarship, of sorts, for two under-23, US-based athletes, one male and one female, for independent learning into pro cycling.
The two selected athletes, chosen from an application process that ends later this month, will receive entries into three major off-road events – Unbound Gravel 100, Crusher in the Tushar and Big Sugar Gravel. Along with a training camp at ENVE headquarters in Ogden, Utah, they will also be provided with pro-level equipment, mechanic support and mentorship to “create a sustainable pathway from high school leagues to the next step in a potential cycling career”.
“If you are a part of this, you’re learning how to become a professional athlete – mentally and physically. I think we’re cognizant that taking two people is not going to change the world at all, but the goal of Phase II will be copied by others to create a collective development pathway for racing professionally,” Vermeulen explained in an interview with Cyclingnews. “What I hope this project instills is that all of us who have learned from our mistakes are able to teach that to athletes coming through next.”
Vermeulen wants to teach others how to create a personality and build a brand, not just try to earn results. Bike racing is a lot about balance, not just in the race but life itself.
“I grew up with a development pathway. USA Cycling had a great pipeline, and I literally crossed everything off, whether it was local results, national results, racing in Europe, and then racing professionally. And the last two years, I’ve had a bunch of people ask me, as I’ve kind of become more well known in the US, ‘what should I do’ about a privateer offer or going to college. And I haven’t had a great answer,” he added.
“I think my mentorship comes down to helping people at the end of the day, be the best version of themselves at these races – being able to talk to people and find where they can help a…