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2013 World Series of Bicycling kicks off with top Europeans, Americans

Top Europeans, Americans in town for bicycle track racing

Gary Blockus

Gary Blockus

11:33 PM EDT, June 5, 2013

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Matt Baranoski sat stone-faced while Marty Nothstein introduced the European cyclists who are in Trexlertown this month to help kick off the 2013 World Series of Bicycling international professional racing series, which begins Friday night at the Valley Preferred Cycling Center.

The 19-year-old Baranoski, a Perkasie native working on a degree in electrical engineering at Penn State University, showed no expression when Nothstein, the executive director of the VPCC and an Olympic and world champion cyclist, then introduced Spring City's Colleen Gulick and Breinigsville's Mandy Marquardt as top U.S. riders.

Baranoski, who at 17 became the youngest elite U.S. national cycling champ in history, also showed no emotion when Nothstein went through his impressive buildup for Baranoski, a junior world bronze medalist and a multi-time national champion.

Baranoski knows about steely resolve, from the tough engineering courses he takes at Penn State Lehigh Valley, to representing the United States in international cycling competitions.

Baranoski fit in all his school work (he finished the spring semester with a 3.9 GPA) while helping the U.S. earn a bronze medal in the team sprint at the Pan American Championships in Mexico City, where he became just the third U.S. cyclist to break 10.0 seconds in the 200-meter time trial.

"I won everything at the Revolution in Scotland," he said of an invitational series where the U.S. riders were brought in as fodder for the stellar British cycling program that swept almost every track medal at the 2012 London Olympics.

Baranoski has his eyes set not just on the present, but on the future.

"I'll be here all of June and a little in July," he said of racing at his hometown track. "Because of the way the World Cup season has changed, you have to get UCI Grand Prix points, so I need to be in a Colorado Springs race in mid-July and do all three UCI races here."

Cyclists must now qualify to race in World Cups, and then qualify their country in one of the top-20 spots internationally for the world championships, so a delicate balance is needed for training and racing now and in the future.

He wasn't too thrilled by the new format for the USA Cycling Track Championships this year, with the timed events taking place in Carson, Calif., and the mass start races on the new track in Rock Hill, N.C.

Baranoski will move to the main campus of Penn State for the fall semester and continue collegiate cycling there. Because of cycling, he has had to turn down engineering internships and research work while competing in world championship contention, with an eye on making the U.S. Olympic Team for 2016.

"I've got three semesters at Penn State left," he said. "Starting in the fall of 2014, we'll be earning points for the Olympics."

And that's when that steely, stone-faced look will really pay off for Baranoski.

European headliners for Friday night: The 2013 World Series of Bicycling kicks off 7:30 p.m. Friday at the VPCC with the U.S. Sprint Grand Prix. Because of the expected weather conditions, a rain date has been scheduled for the same time on Saturday, but Nothstein said every attempt will be made to get the program in on Friday.

Yondi Schmidt of the Netherlands is back for the third time and brought Jenning Huizenga with him for the first time. Kayleigh Brogan of Scotland is also back for the third time, along with John Paul, a Scot-turned-Brit who won the 2011 Junior World sprint championship.

Germany also had several riders show up, including 22-year-old Nico Hesslich, the son of six-time world champion Lutz Hesslich, who competed for the former East German team.

Hesslich, who rides for the Rudy Project, has been cycling for only five years, and makes his name in the endurance events and criteriums as opposed to the sprinting discipline of his father.

"There always was a bit of pressure on me for cycling, but I turned to it late from athletics [track and field]," said Nico, who competed in the men's heptathlon. "I turned to cycling when I was 17; before that there was no pleasure for me. In the five years since then, I learned the fun of racing the bike on the track and road."

His family owns a bike shop in Cottbus, Germany, the largest cycling shop in their region.

"The footsteps in cycling from my dad are big," he said. "My feet are bigger, but I will never fill his shoes. He sprinted and my specialty is endurance like the Madison and points race on the track, and the criterium on the road. I am much different than my dad like that, so no one can say I'm not as good as my dad, but I did learn from him how to train and how to motivate for competition. He's 54 now, but he still trains one or two times a week with me."

Hawk Mountain 5K Hill Climb: The third annual Hawk Mountain Hill Climb 5K run or walk will take place June 15 from the base of Hawk Mountain sanctuary in Kempton to the Sanctuary Visitor Center.

The $20 entry fee includes a T-shirt, goody bag, breakfast, bag lunch and awards. Day-of registration takes place at 8 a.m. with the race starting at 10 a.m. A free live raptor program and food vendors, including an ice cream truck, will be on hand. Applications and information are available at http://www.hawkmountain.org/hillclimb or by calling 610-756-6961.

Grin & Bear it Tris on Wednesdays: Endurance Multisport is holding its Grin & Bear It Tris very short course fun tris at Bear Creek Conference Center and on four Wednesdays: June 12, June 26, July 10 and July 31.

The course features a 0.2-mile swim, a 10-mile bike ride and 1.5-mile run. It is free to EnMu members, and $35 for a one-day "try."

Check-in for each race begins at 5:30 p.m. and racing begins at 6:45 p.m. Craig Sheckler of Endurance Multisport says that the Grin & Bear It tris are perfect for entry level triathletes looking to learn the ropes and transitions, as well as for experienced triathletes to try out new equipment and practice speedwork and racing strategies.

For more information, go online to http://www.endurancemultisport.com/grinandbearit/index.html.