Become a Member

Get access to more than 30 brands, premium video, exclusive content, events, mapping, and more.

Already have an account? Sign In

Become a Member

Get access to more than 30 brands, premium video, exclusive content, events, mapping, and more.

Already have an account? Sign In

Brands

Road

Introducing: US U23 national champion Cooper Johnson

The 20-year-old took a stunning win in the road race and has a bright future ahead of him.

Lock Icon

Become a member to unlock this story and receive other great perks.

Already have an Outside Account? Sign in

Outside+ Logo

All-Access
Intro Offer
$3.99 / month*

  • A $500 value with everything in the Digital Plan plus 25+ benefits including:
  • Member-only content on all 17 publications in the Outside network like Beta MTB, Peloton, Clean Eating, Yoga Journal, and more
  • Download your personal race photos from FinisherPix* for one race (up to a $100 value).
  • Get up to $30 off your next race and $30 off race fees every year you are a member through AthleteReg*.
  • Expert gear guides and reviews for cycling equipment, performance apparel and tech
  • Discounted race entries to local sportives and centuries
  • Outside Watch Shows, Films, and documentaries
  • Outside Learn, our new online education hub loaded with more than 2,000 videos across 450 lessons including 10 Weeks to Your Best 70.3 and the 60 Day Metabolic Reset
Join O+
VeloNews.com

Digital
Intro Offer
$2.99 / month*

  • Access to all member-exclusive content and gear reviews on VeloNews.com
  • Ad-free access to VeloNews.com
Join VeloNews

*Outside memberships are billed annually. You may cancel your membership at anytime, but no refunds will be issued for payments already made. Upon cancellation, you will have access to your membership through the end of your paid year. More Details

Cooper Johnson held back tears as he climbed off his bike to hug his mother, and then team director Mike Creed.

The Aevolo rider had just won the U23 national road title – the biggest victory in his young career – and he did it from a solo breakaway, striking out 60km from the finish of a hot and muggy 187km race.

Initially, he didn’t know if the move would stick, but the possibility of the “stars and stripes” jersey soon became a reality as the weary peloton shut down all hope of chasing.

Johnson won with a three-minute lead over Lucas Bourgoyne (WB-Fybolia Morbihan) and Liam Flanagan (Kelly Benefits Strategies), who finished second and third in the bunch sprint.

The 20-year-old from Murfreesboro, Tennessee, has had a series of firsts come his way in 2022.

Aevolo’s February team camp was his first time in California. Spring marked his first glimpse of the European racing scene, and this past weekend he was the first rider across the line at the U.S. U23 national road championships in Roanoke, Virginia.

“I’m a Tennessee guy,” Johnson said. “I’ve always stayed in the Southeast pretty much. The scene is pretty good around where I live and I have a great community of support around me. But what’s been so great about racing with Aevolo is that I get to race my bike and see the world. I’m 20 and already have seen some pretty cool places.”

Things are happening quickly for Johnson, who started racing mountain bikes with the National Interscholastic Cycling Association (NICA) when he was 16 years old and then progressed to road after connecting with the folks at his local bike shop, Moab Bicycle Shop.

Johnson says the shop took him under its wing, introducing him to group rides and, eventually, taking part in the mid-week local criterium series.

After signing with Aevolo, a U.S. U23 team designed to help young elite athletes transition into the pro ranks, Johnson went from becoming a known name in the local Southeastern scene to quickly adapting to the rigors of a European spring schedule, starting with the Tour of Normandy in March. In fact, U.S. Pro Nationals in Knoxville, Tennessee was the first time he’d taken the start of an American race the entire year. But already, Johnson is hungry to get back to Europe.

“The team has been adapting so fast, and we’re doing so much better each race we go to,” said Johnson, who is the fourth rider from the Aevolo team to win the U23 road championships. “I’m ready to get back, honestly. I enjoyed being home, but racing there has created new opportunities, and I can’t wait to see what happens next.”

Johnson will head back to Europe in the next few weeks to prepare for Giro Ciclistico della Valle d’Aosta as part of the US national team.

Two days after his win in Roanoke, however, he says he’s still stunned he’s a national champion, despite the ‘stars and stripes’ jersey hanging over a chair in his hotel room.

“I’m just happy to be here with the team,” he said. “We like hanging out together and having a good time. Maybe it’ll sink in when I get home. I’m home for a couple of days after this, but I’m already excited to see what we can do in the criterium. I am hoping we can win that too.”