Nate Brown sat down with Pat Malach from CyclingNews at the team’s recent team launch in Minneapolis, MN.
Nate Brown jumped from Axel Merckx’s Bontrager Development Team to the WorldTour in 2014 with Cannondale-Garmin, one of the many iterations of Jonathan Vaughters’ American Slipstream program, when he was just 22.
In six years with Slipstream, the rider from Tennessee played the role of consummate domestique and worker bee, helping his better-known teammates take wins around the globe. Now Brown will get his own chances with a move for 2020 to US Pro Continental outfit Rally Cycling, where he is expected to slot into the road captain role left open when Canadain Svein Tuft retired at the end of the season.
Although he’s still just 28, Brown’s WorldTour and European experience make him a good candidate to help guide Rally’s younger riders as they learn the ropes abroad, even if he still feels a little under-aged for his new purpose.
“It’s still weird to me,” he told Cyclingnews on Thursday at the team’s get together this week in Minneapolis.
“Even during my last year in [EF Education First], they started putting me into this road captain role, and I was like, ‘I’m still a kid. Wait a minute.’ But I had been there for six years. Except for [US road champion Alex] Howes, I was the longest guy on the team,” he said.
“So it’s been a shift. I’ve normally just been a helper, and I do my work and I don’t open my mouth and I just keep my nose to the grind. Now it’s more like people are asking me, ‘What should I do here?’”
Brown met up with his new teammates earlier this fall in what he referred to as Rally’s low key “bro camp,” an informal gathering where they rode mountain bikes and generally refamiliarised themselves with each other.
“I like that because I feel like you really get to know people there, and then when you go into the actual camps you already know everyone and it’s not like you’re meeting everyone for the first time,” he said.
In fact, Brown has raced against most of his new teammates before and has shared a team with some of them, including Gavin Mannion on Bontrager and Ty Magner in the junior ranks.
“So a lot of these guys I’ve known forever, and it just feels natural just going right back into this,” he said.
Although Brown has been a worker during his WorldTour tenure with Slipstream, his desire to post up his arms in victory at the end of a race hasn’t diminished. He had few opportunities with his former team, and the promise of getting his own chances with Rally drew him to the program.
“On EF I had one opportunity where they gave me free rein to ride for myself. So I’m not used to that, and now coming to this team it’s more of a mixed role. They want me to mentor the younger guys and then they actually want me to race to win,” he said.
“I’m super excited, because at the end of the day we all got into cycling because we had that drive to win and we wanted to perform. I feel like I kind of lost that for a while, so I’m excited to have that opportunity.”
For the full interview visit CyclingNews.com