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No worlds for Costa, eyeing 2017 improvements

After missing out on a selection for the worlds time trial, up-and-comer Adrien Costa chooses to end his season and gear up for 2017.

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Adrien Costa, a winner of time trial medals in the past two world championships, won’t be racing in Qatar next month.

The 19-year-old phenom, who enjoyed a breakout season in his first year racing at the U23 level, will not be taking a crack at the time trial world title. Despite winning silver in 2014 and 2015 in the junior world time trials, he was not selected to race against the clock for the Doha worlds in October.

“I was disappointed, not to be selected,” Costas said. “I was on the podium on the last two years as a junior, and after winning the time trial at the Tour de l’Avenir, I thought that would be enough.”

Earlier this month, USA Cycling confirmed that Geoffrey Curran and Neilson Powless — two of Costa’s teammates on Axeon Hagens Berman — would race the time trial, based on qualification criteria. Costa was initially selected to compete in the road race, but he decided that the flat, sprint-friendly course was hardly ideal for his style of racing.

“At the end of the day, with the flat circuits for the road race, I am not sure it is worth the travel and energy to extend my season for four more weeks,” Costa said. “I prefer to settle in at home, have some down time for the first time in a long time. It’s not the worst thing in the world. I will have a chance at the U23 world title again next year.”

Even without Costa, the U.S. U23 team will have solid chances for the podium. Powless was second to Costa at the Avenir time trial, 10th at the Amgen Tour of California time trial, less than a minute slower than Rohan Dennis (BMC Racing), and won a TT at the Tour de Beauce.

Curran, racing this week at the Olympia’s Tour, was second in the time trial on Thursday, and beat both Powless and Costa to win the U23 national time trial title in June.

Costa, meanwhile, is decompressing for a superb first season in the U23 ranks. He performed consistently across the season, splitting his calendar between the United States and Europe. In May, he became the first American to win the weeklong Tour de Bretagne, and followed that up with third at the Rhone-Alpes Isère Tour. In June, he won a time trial stage at the Tour de Savoie Mont Blanc, took second overall at the Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah, and won a time trial and third overall at the Tour de l’Avenir. He rounded out his season with a stagiaire stint with Etixx – Quick-Step.

Costa will race 2017 with Axeon Hagens Berman, and he’s already hoping to build on his success from this season.

“Winning the overall at the Tour de Bretagne was big. I wasn’t expecting that. I was hoping to be up there and racing hard, but I didn’t expect to be the one that everyone was watching,” Costa said. “That was a big change when I went to the Tour de l’Avenir, because every time I stood out of the saddle, it seemed like the entire peloton did, too. Next year, I hope to race a calendar similar to what I would see at the WorldTour level, racing hard from March to September.”

And that schedule will likely include a return trip to the world championships to race for gold in the U23 time trial in Bergen, Norway. Right now, Costa is happy to cool his jets, sign up for some classes at Oregon State University, and enjoy the downtime.

“I am done racing for the season,” Costa said. “I stopped riding to take my true off-season a few days ago, and I will be off the bike for two or three weeks. By mid-November, I will start into some more structured training on the road. It will go quick. The first team camp is in January, and it’s off to Europe again.”

Read a full interview with Costa in the next issue of VeloNews.