Vail Mountain student named to elite cycling development team
Mack Dorf joins California-based LUX Cycling, a top U19 road cycling development team in the United States
In November, California-based LUX Cycling, an elite under-19 development team that has grown to become arguably the main pathway to the pros for American junior riders, named 17-year-old Team Colorado athlete and Vail Mountain School student Mack Dorf to its 2021-2022 roster.
“Mack has a great finishing kick, but can also make selection on a difficult course,” the LUX cycling team wrote on their Instagram page on Nov. 9. “We are excited to have Mack part of the LUX family and see him apply his talents in Europe.”
LUX boasts an international roster of top male and female competitors. It will focus on multi-day stage races in both the U.S. and Europe for the 2022 race season, beginning with the Valley of the Sun stage race, Feb. 18-20 in Phoenix.
The Union Cycliste Internationale, categorizes teams into three divisions. UCI WorldTeams compete in the UCI World Tour and race in the well-known grand classics such as the Tour de France, Vuelta a Espana, and Giro D’Italia. The second and third divisions are ProTeams (formerly known as Pro Continental), and Continental. These teams primarily compete in their respective divisions but can earn wildcard invitations to higher category races as well.
LUX cycling belongs to U.S.A. Cycling’s domestic elite category, which was created by U.S.A. Cycling to “offer a stepping stone to the professional level,” and Dorf is excited to join a team with a growing reputation for developing talented riders.
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“They have done a really good job of putting athletes into that next, European stage of their careers,” Dorf said.
“So, when I found out I was selected to the team, I was super excited. That opens so many doors and gives you so many opportunities. I was super psyched.”
Trek-Segafredo’s Quinn Simmons, UAE Team Emirates’ Brandon McNulty, and Team DSM’s Kevin Vermaerke have passed through the program to the World Tour, as have Makayla MacPherson and junior Worlds silver medalist Kaia Schmid, both of whom are both headed to women’s pro team Human Powered Health.
Just two weeks ago, 18-year-old Cole Kessler announced he was joining Israel Cycling Academy. Kessler, who hails from Newbury Park, California — where LUX is based — started riding mountain bikes and only switched to the roads a year ago. Now, he is at training camps with his hero, four-time Tour de France champion and Israel Start-Up Nation teammate Chris Froome. Another LUX alumni is Colby Lange, a former VSSA student-athlete from Edwards who now rides for the Hagens Berman Axeon team. Dorf is hoping for a similar progression.
“Getting on one of the World Tour development teams would definitely be one of my big aspirations. I can’t really have higher hopes than that right now,” Dorf said. “That would be really cool.”
His first race with LUX will be in Arizona in February — he’ll race while still attending VMS. When he graduates, he’ll head to Europe and try to earn one of those spots on a professional development team, a U-23 feeder group for the UCI WorldTeams. If he gets that call, college might have to wait, though the senior has already gone through the process of applying to colleges and knows the NCAA route is a viable choice, too.
Short term, he’d love to be nominated to the U.S.A. cycling world championship team.
“That definitely would be one of my biggest goals for the season.“
Last season, Mack placed fourth at the U.S.A. Cycling Road Nationals road race and was second overall in the Tour of America’s Dairyland general classification. He was also named to U.S.A. Cycling’s Olympic Development Academy. During the 2020 race season he earned two Colorado State Championship titles (time-trial and criterium). Before he looks to build on his past successes, he’ll head to Ventura, California for his first training camp with LUX, beginning Dec. 26. Dorf is looking forward to a break from the Zwift indoor training scene and riding his bike outside in warm weather.
“I’ve been inside now for six weeks,” he said about the mind-numbing stationary trainer routine.
“To go hang out in the sun, spend some time getting to know my new teammates, and hanging out on the beach a little bit — super excited for that.”
Even though Dorf admits he isn’t a pure climber, the all-arounder did have the second-fastest time of any competitor in any category at the Guanella Pass Hill Climb on Jul. 18. He even beat his dad, Erik, a well-known competitive area cyclist who placed second in his age group in the 2015 Leadville 100 and won the Grand Fondo division of the Mount Evans Hill Climb in 2013. On his ‘about me’ page on Vail-Summit Orthopaedics, Mack’s dad wrote, “My son Mack reads more than anyone I know. He rips the ski hill to shreds and is a killer defenseman on his soccer team. I can still beat him on the bike, but perhaps not for long.”
Mack thinks it’s time for that webpage to be refreshed.
“Yeah. I don’t even know when he wrote that, but he might have been lying when he wrote it,” he said.
“That might need an update, for sure.”