Ravelo, 303 Project confident heading into time trial national championships | VailDaily.com

Ravelo, 303 Project confident heading into time trial national championships

The 303 Project is heading into the Professional Criterium and Team Time Trial National Championships with some well earned confidence. The championships run June 29 to July 2 in Louisville, Kentucky.

Based in Boulder, the 303 Project is new team, made up of rookies who are hoping to start the long process of building a reputation in the world of professional road cycling. They race in the domestic elite division, which means the team isn't actually registered with the International Cycling Union but is able to compete on the Pro Road Tour — the highest level of regular competition in the U.S. — among the top union-registered teams.

USA Cycling calls the domestic elite program "a stepping stone to the professional level" and a chance for teams to better solidify their position on the pro road tour.

To do that, teams must capitalize on the opportunity to earn points on the Pro Road Tour by working together at races, helping one member finish as best as possible.

Eagle-Vail resident Cristhian Ravelo is a member of the 303 Project, and said he is beginning to see the team rise to that challenge.

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"Road cycling is a team sport," he said. "Throughout the year we've definitely showed our presence as a team."

DEFINING MOMENT

At the Northstar Grand Prix, a five day stage race which took place in Minnesota June 14-18, Ravelo said the main compliment the team was receiving was they were punching above their weight class, as a domestic elite team finding results among the bigger squads.

Stage 5, the North Mankato Road Race, was where they really shined, sending one of their riders into the top 10.

It took the riders breaking away from the main group to bring out their potential. One minute and 20 seconds away from the pack, there's usually little chance of coming back.

"To most people, if you're not up there, your race is over," Ravelo said.

Little by little, however, they were able to bring it back.

"We put our heads down and we worked as hard as we could to bring that gap down," Ravelo said. "During that we were also dropping guys who couldn't hold our pace, but the biggest thing that came out of that was my teammate, Austin Stephens, was able to respond with the best riders of the race, made the lead group and finished ninth overall."

Ravelo said it was a defining moment for the 303 Project.

"This race definitely solidified what we're capable of," he said.

FOLLOW THE DRAMA

The day after Stephens' top 10 finish, an unfortunate accident occurred during the following stage and Stephens went down hard, breaking his collar bone.

"After a successful surgery we're stoked to see Austin in high spirits and ready to come back stronger," the 303 Project posted this week.

Keep up with Stephens' and the 303 Project's progress by following them on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter @303Project. That's also how you'll get the fastest info on how 303 Project riders are fairing during the Professional Criterium and Team Time Trial National Championships, which taking place today through Sunday in Louisville, Kentucky.

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