Several riders on the Axeon Hagens Berman Cycling Team will be competing Sunday at the Under 23 edition of Gent-Wevelgem with their national teams.
Ian Garrison, Logan Owen and Neilson Powless will be competing for the USA Cycling Under 23 squad in the Belgian race, along with Sean Bennett, Curtis White and Zeke Mostov. A fourth Axeon Hagens Berman rider, Irish Under 23 national time trial champion Eddie Dunbar, will be representing Ireland in the 186-kilometer race.
For Garrison, it will be his first race in the Under 23 ranks after earning a bronze medal as a junior in the world time trial championships last fall.
"This year has been about increasing the volume, but carefully, and in the healthiest way possible," he said. "I have accomplished my goal in that this has been my biggest year yet, but I am healthy and responding to the training well. All is going to plan, I am happy with where I am at and really just enjoying riding my bike."
So what does the 18-year-old from Decatur, Georgia, know about the one-day Nations Cup race?
"I know that it is a hard race that plays out differently every year," he said. "But it is very likely that the race will split into many groups, especially once we hit the circuit. I am looking forward to this race because it is classic-style and that is a favorite of mine. It will be my first big race as a U23 but I am confident in the abilities of myself and especially our team. I know we have the strength to pull off a strong result in this race and I am excited to be a part of that, no matter what role I play."
Official start time for the race is 5:05 a.m. EDT/2:05 p.m. PDT (11:05 a.m. CEST). Estimated finish time is 9:30 a.m. EDT/6:30 a.m. PDT (3:30 p.m. CEST).