Local Racer Working to Turn Pro Someday

Updated: 06/11/2014 7:24 PM
Created: 06/11/2014 5:34 PM
By: Todd Wilson

The "North Star Grand Prix" is underway right now. The elite bike race draws cyclists from around the world and gives Minnesotans a chance to shine.

But as we told you earlier this month, this could be the end of its 13 year run. Nature Valley, which is owned by General Mills, didn't renew its sponsorship for this year. No sponsor means no funding.

Local elite amateur Tony Olson says it will limit the number of races he can participate in because of funding.

Ever since Olson watched the Tour De France on TV in 2005 he has been pursuing his dream of being a pro cyclist.

"Just kind of got the itch to start and just kind of met some people along the way and they kind of guided me to where I am," he said.

Right now, Tony is considered an elite amateur, which gives him a chance to race and showcase his talent to the pros. In simple terms he has to impress them. 

"To get our name out there requires racing aggressively," he said.

Dale Sedgwick is Tony's team director. He knows something about getting a pro contract. For five years in the late 80's he raced in France and America as a pro. He says it's very tough to get a pro contract.

"To get noticed by a pro team there's a couple of ways of doing it. You can go out and win every race you enter which is extremely difficult. The other way is to specialize in something like, like specialize in sprinting or specialize in climbing or in my case specialize in being a good team worker," he said.

Tony is a mixture of a climber and sprinter. He trains about 18-20 hours a week and travels extensively throughout the summer. He says he's giving himself another two years to reach his goal.

"The older a rider gets the more realistic you have to be," he said. 

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