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2014 Domestic Breakthrough Rider of the Year: Joey Rosskopf

Win an impressive showing at the Tour of Utah, Joey Rosskopf earned Velo magazine's Domestic Breakthrough Rider of the Year award

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Editor’s note: This article was originally published in the December 2014 issue of Velo magazine, the annual awards issue.

After narrowly missing out on the biggest win of his young career on stage 2 of the Tour of Utah, Joey Rosskopf (Hincapie Sportswear Development Team) thought he had missed a chance to reroute the trajectory of his career. He was caught a mere three kilometers from the line, after battling with Michael Schär in a daylong breakaway, and absorbed into the bunch by the finish.

“[Winning] would have been career changing. I think second on the stage would have been career changing,” he told Velo just after the stage.

Instead of sulking, Rosskopf, 25, set out to find more success. He did, but with it came a bit more heartbreak. He rode into another daylong break on stage 6, the queen stage, which included nearly 13,000 feet of climbing, but again came up short, this time finishing second to former Tour de France and world champion Cadel Evans.

“[It was] kind of a heartbreak, but a lot less so than [stage 2],” Rosskopf said. “Actually, it’s not a disappointment. Cadel was the only one to beat me. It would have been awesome to win; it would have been unbelievable. But I’m super pleased … I’ve never done this before.”

Rosskopf won the Redlands Classic in April, and took fourth overall at the Cascade Cycling Classic in July. His run of super, late-summer form continued at the USA Pro Challenge, where he rode with a different strategy in mind: the general classification. He rode consistently, stage after stage, finishing sixth overall against a deep and talented field filled with WorldTour talent. He was maturing in real-time.

In the end, the summer of 2014 was career-changing after all.

In late September, Rosskopf signed on with the BMC Racing squad of Evans, who retires in January 2015.

Could it have been Evans who put in a good word for Rosskopf with BMC brass after witnessing his performance in Utah?

“He seems to have a lot of ambition. I think with ambition and talent, a rider can go a long way with that,” Evans said after the battle the two waged on stage 6. “I may have to go and speak with Mr. Hincapie about his future there.”

In the end, the kid they call King Joey let his legs do the talking.