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By Matt Pacocha
Rabobank rider Bram de Groot is a good sport. The Belgian came to Las Vegas to race CrossVegas, though he hasn’t raced cyclocross in years.
To open up his legs for the race, Giant’s Andrew Juskaitis took him for a mountain bike ride on Interbike’s Outdoor Demo Caldera loop — almost two hours of dry, loose trail embedded with rocks as sharp as razor blades. De Groot had never ridden a mountain bike in his life.
It was 6 p.m. when he climbed on the big bike, with ace mountain bikers Adam Craig and Carl Decker for riding partners.
Still, after a few hiccups at the beginning — including de Groot thinking that the Coors Light being passed around at the top of the climb was Coke Light — he embraced the riding and the situation with a big smile.
“It was a really nice ride on the mountain bike,” he said back at the Giant trailer. “I enjoyed it. In the beginning, the full suspension, I’m not used to it. It was a little bit scary, but then the last hour was really fun, yeah.”
This is the second time de Groot has been in the United States. He raced the Tour of California in 2008. He’s in Las Vegas at the request of Giant Bicycles.
“They asked me this last Wednesday,” said de Groot. “So 10 minutes after I was off the phone I was in the field trying the cyclocross bike.”
CrossVegas will be de Groot’s last pro race on any bicycle, knobby tires or slick. He’s officially retired from the ProTour.