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VALENCIA WINS NATIONAL CYCLING

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By Patrick Lujan

Matt Valencia (17-yrs-old) captures a national title during the 2013 USA Junior Cycling Championship. (photo courtesy Team Specialized)

Matt Valencia (17-yrs-old in red) captures a national title during the 2013 USA Junior Cycling Championship. (photo courtesy Team Specialized)

Could it be that another USA cyclist with Guam roots becomes a world champion?

17-year-old Matt Valencia is well on his way.

The son of Guam’s Mike and Eva Valencia is now a national champion after winning The Madison event – a 100-lap event around the veladrome in the 2013 USA Cycling Junior Track Championships today in Trexlertown, PA.

“I was really surprised we won,” Valencia told GSPN.

The team of Valencia and best friend Jack Maddux from Fresno, CA beat out 11 other teams from around the nation to become national champions.

Matt Valencia and Jack Maddux raise their hands in victory after winning The Madison event at the 2013 USA Junior Cycling Championships. (photo courtesy Team Specialized)

Matt Valencia and Jack Maddux raise their hands in victory after winning The Madison event at the 2013 USA Junior Cycling Championships. (photo courtesy Team Specialized)

“We live two hours away, but we’ve been on Team Specialized since I was 14 and we became best friends. We train almost every weekend,” Valencia said about his buddy Maddux.

Born in San Mateo and now living in Los Altos, Valencia started competing in 2007 after getting the inspiration to ride from his father and a trip to France.

“My family and I took a trip to Europe and I saw the last stage of the Tour de France and that helped inspire me.”

THE MADISON

The 100-lap, two-person event is named after Madison Square Garden in New York – a prominent cycling venue which helped raise track cycle racing.

Teams are usually of two riders but could be three. Only one member is racing while the other is ‘resting’. The resting rider has to be touched before he can take over. The touch can be a push, often on the shorts, or one rider hurling the other into the race by a hand-sling. It was the first time Valencia participated in the event at the Nationals but has been training since February.

The senior-to-be at Bellarmine College Preparatory is a two-time national Omnium track champion, winning his age brackets in 2010 and 2012.

CARPENTER CONNECTION

Matt Valencia is tagged by teammate Jack Maddux during the national championship race. (photo courtesy of Team Specialized)

Matt Valencia is tagged by teammate Jack Maddux during the national championship race. (photo courtesy of Team Specialized)

How ironic is it that former USA Olympian and world champion Ken Carpenter is on Team Specialized along with Valencia.

“He is the master (racer) on our team and he helped me a lot last year,” Valencia said about Carpenter. “He got me in contact some people, and through Ken, he helped me understand match sprinting, which is one of the events in the Omnium. He’s a great mentor.”

Carpenter was glad to help out Valencia and the other young riders through close friend and 2000 Olympic gold medalist Marty Nothstein at his track in Pennsylvania.

“He’s a solid, hard working guy. Pretty quiet,” Carpenter said about Valencia. “Matt has always struck me as a quiet and respectful guy, he does have a fiery competitive streak in him though.”

Ken Carpenter

Ken Carpenter

As for the Olympic dream, Valencia is taking it one step at a time.

“I’m hoping it will help me get into college and after college, see where it takes me from there. Cycling so far has been amazing, so I’m hoping to continue it past college.”

NOTES: Valencia’s last time to Guam has been when he was in 2nd grade…he also does road races and cyclo-cross (half road/half mountain bike)…prior to concentrating on cycling he’s  played basketball, lacrosse and soccer.

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