In breakout season, Carter Jones exceeds all expectations

The 24-year-old Bissell rider says he wants to race full-time in the European peloton

DEVON, Alberta (VN) — His season has featured the king of the mountains jersey at the Amgen Tour of California, eighth overall at the Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah, and 11th overall at the USA Pro Challenge in Colorado. Those are nice additions to the palmares of any 24-year-old American cyclist with a growing reputation and European dreams.

Unless you’re a perfectionist, which Carter Jones (Bissell) admittedly is, one who so exceeded the head movie he had for 2013 that he’s now noticing warts no one else appears to see.

“To be honest, I kind of blew all my expectations out of the water,” he told VeloNews before the start of Wednesday’s stage 1 at the Tour of Alberta. “And then after Colorado I was disappointed. Really. It was like, ‘Man, I finished 11th! One second out of 10th! Three seconds out of ninth!’ I was looking back on the race and picking it apart, thinking, ‘Aw I could have gotten time here! That was stupid and I made a mistake there!’

“But if you told me even after California that I would have been 11th after Colorado, I would have looked at you like you were crazy. So, I kind of need to take a step back.”

He’ll get that after this week, as the season that began in the relative obscurity of March’s San Dimas Stage race shuts down. Then begins an offseason that will see him wait for the calls that will most certainly come and to think about the larger target of the hopefully not-too-distant future.

“My big goal is to race full-time in Europe. When that’s going to happen is out of my control,” he said. “I just race my bike here and if I get the call up to go over I get the call up to go over.”

In the interim, he wants to finish the season with a respectable week in Alberta, knowing he’s probably tuckered out from the two mountainous American races back-to-back and that the inaugural Canadian stage race doesn’t suit either his climbing or long time trial talents. A woeful effort in Tuesday’s prologue saw him finish fourth from the back and he makes no pretense about being anywhere close to the top of the general classification come Sunday’s finale in Calgary.

“Coming off Utah, then Colorado, and now here, that’s a solid block of racing and I am done,” he said. “I just want to race aggressively from here on out [this week] and then it’s the offseason and time to think.”

He’d like to continue the progression he’s made this year, his second on the U.S.-based Continental squad, but where remains to be seen. Jones has made no employment decisions about 2014.

“I’d like to find a team that’s going to give me a good race program and go from there setting the next goals,” he said. “I’ve finally put together a consistent season here and as long as I see consistent improvement, I’m good.”