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SACRAMENTO, California (VN) — The meteoric rise of Chloe Dygert has been detailed with myriad superlatives. But from coaches to competitors, the 19-year-old rider’s talents are also often described succinctly — “she’s an engine.”
Dygert, the former Indiana high school basketball player, finished sixth in the general classification Sunday in the four-day women’s Amgen Tour of California. While claiming the best young rider classification, she also finished 59 seconds behind race winner Megan Guarnier.
Dygert placed 29th in the opening stage in South Lake Tahoe. Her Twenty16 – Ridebiker squad then claimed stage 2, the team team trial in Folsom. Dygert finished eighth in the stage 3 road race in Santa Rosa and 15th in the main field in same time as stage 4 circuit race winner Kirstin Wild.
It was Dygert’s first UCI WorldTour race, and it occurred eight months after her junior double gold medals at the world championships in Richmond, Virginia, and two months after her third world title, a team win in the UCI Track World Championships in London. Dygert, Kelly Catlin, Jennifer Valente, and Sarah Hammer claimed the team pursuit gold medal. The winning quartet was subsequently among the first group of U.S. athletes selected to compete in the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
Although Dygert will race again on the road this weekend at the USA Cycling National Championships, the versatile cyclist will soon shift her training to the velodrome.
“I am still so new track; I’ve only been doing it for a few months now,” said Dygert, who recently relocated from Indiana to Bremerton, Washington, but soon will move again to the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs. “But the intensity of it is so different. It’s an affront. You get on the track, and it’s a four-minute effort, full out, instead of a four-hour effort.
“Everything changes on the track. Your mentality, how you treat your bike. You’re much more aggressive on the track than you are on the road. For me, it’s still kind of complicated to go back and forth, but I am getting there, and I am learning.”
Dygert’s cycling versatility has required her to make training decisions. But the timing of her newfound success couldn’t have been better.
“Track is in my off-season,” Dygert said. “I was just asked if I wanted to come and try it out. I gave it shot and was OK enough to make the worlds team. We won the gold, so we are going to try to do the same thing in Rio.”
Dygert’s transition to cycling is similar to other athletes who’ve entered the sport from mainstream pursuits. She excelled in basketball but began cycling as a young teenager and with nearly instant success. She raced junior nationals in 2013, winning the criterium and placing third in the time trial and road race. She tore her ACL the following January playing basketball.
The injury could have ended a cycling career (or any other athletic pursuits), but she recovered to win two 17-18 national cycling titles. And two years later, she’s on her way to the Summer Olympics and whatever her road cycling career brings.
“I think most of it is God-given talent,” said Dygert about her successes. “My family has a lot of athletic people in it, yes. But it’s God-given talent and I am thankful for it. I also have great support from my coach and and all that they do. They made me a better rider.”