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Summerhill laments, refocuses for Continental return in 2012

Summerhill at the Louisville USGP race this weekend. Photo: Wil Matthews | www. wilmatthewsphoto.com BOULDER, Colo. (VN) — Danny Summerhill will be back with the Chipotle development team in 2012 and is frustrated to miss a place in the WorldTour after a three-month stint with Garmin-Cervélo…

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2011 Derby City Cup, day 1, Danny Summerhill
Summerhill at the Louisville USGP race this weekend. Photo: Wil Matthews | www. wilmatthewsphoto.com

BOULDER, Colo. (VN) — Danny Summerhill will be back with the Chipotle development team in 2012 and is frustrated to miss a place in the WorldTour after a three-month stint with Garmin-Cervélo this year. Team boss Jonathan Vaughters told VeloNews that Summerhill impressed in 2011 and will have an opportunity with his top-tier squad in 2013.

Summerhill, 22, rode with the Garmin ProTeam in a number of races this fall, including the Tour of Utah, USA Pro Cycling Challenge and Paris-Tours. The former junior world cyclocross silver medalist supported Christian Vande Velde’s runner-up finish in Colorado and narrowly missed the podium in Denver, finishing fourth in the final-stage bunch sprint.

“The final stage of Colorado was when we really started to look at the possibility of bringing him up to the ProTeam, and that is a decision we take very seriously,” Vaughters told VeloNews. “We all know he’s an incredible cyclocross rider, but we needed to see what a full season on the road looked like for him so we decided to send him to some races in Europe in the fall with the ProTeam, to give him some additional experience and to see how he did.”

Following his European assignment, Summerhill said he was under the impression that a move to the ProTeam was likely and that he did not receive final confirmation that he would not make the jump until late October. Chann McRae, director of Garmin’s feeder team, made space for Summerhill for 2012 and he will return to the squad that has been his home his entire career. Vaughters said that the plan from early on in Summerhill’s stagiaire assignment was to make a decision following the Giro di Piemonte on October 13.

“I have a lot of respect for Danny, as a rider and a person. He’s grown up with this program and I’m really happy he is staying with us on the Continental team,” said Vaughters. “If there was a misunderstanding, I’m sorry for that but we made the decision after his last European races — Paris-Tours and Giro di Piemonte — as planned.”

Summerhill said he was disappointed to return to the Continental level in 2012, but at the same time was thankful to have a job in what has been a tough market.

“I’m a little disappointed. I was hoping to get a shot with the big boys, but granted I was lucky enough to get to race with them at the end of the season when I stagiaired with the big guys at Utah, Colorado and some European races. That was a phenomenal experience,” he told VeloNews. “At the end of the day I just have to be thankful that I’m making money somewhere. It’s tough times right now.”

This fall has provided a mix of success and disappointment for Summerhill. While he rode well with Garmin, he missed a place on the U.S. national team for the U23 world road championships in what was his last year of eligibility.

“It was definitely a substantial blow not going to worlds this year,” said Summerhill. “Roll with the punches I guess and better luck next time.”

Summerhill said he has struggled with focus since late October, even daydreaming at the start line of the Boulder Cup ‘cross race before the whistle blew, but that he was coming around to setting his sights on 2012. For a rider who spent much of the year in the shadows of teammates like Lachlan Morton and Alex Howes, Summerhill said he will be looking to spend more time in Europe and rake in UCI points.

“I’m finally in the last week coming to grasp what’s going to happen with my season next year,” he said. “I think this year I’m going to focus on being a great team player; I took that to the nth degree last year. I’m going to focus on doing well for the team, but for myself as well.”

Vaughters said that Summerhill will see a strong road program in 2012 and that keeping him in the development team an additional year will ultimately benefit the rider he has put six years into.

“He will have a great race program next year, and we’ll be keeping a close eye on him. We’re happy he is staying with us. Danny needs to compete in a full European season in the Continental level before he does it at the pro level and we’re going to give him that opportunity,” said Vaughters.

“Ultimately our decision was to place him on the Continental team, which is where we feel he will benefit the most, and we are happy that he will be there. Our goal is to do our best for our young riders, and we are excited to see what he does on the road next year. We will be keeping an eye on him.”

The Garmin ProTeam and its full 2012 roster will be presented Thursday night at the Boulder Theatre.