“I’ve really enjoyed working with Hugh, and I think he has a really bright future,” Tejay says. “He knows if there’s ever any kind of question he has about time trialing, or just in general, he can always reach out, or call, or whatever. My door’s always open, and that goes to anyone on the team.”
Still, being a professional bike racer is a very tough business. Racing up and down alpine cols in the harshest conditions that nature can throw at you is one of the most physically and mentally challenging pursuits an athlete can do. Cycling is dangerous and all-consuming. To be competitive, riders have to ignore the risks and lead a highly disciplined existence. And there is so much uncertainty involved that there is never any guarantee of success. With a young family at home, Tejay has reached a point where he no longer feels he can do it well. He doesn’t want to take chances away from his teammates. He respects them as much as they respect him.
“The honest truth is that I don’t feel super effective as a bike racer anymore,” he says. “Once your ability starts to be less than it was, you have to find a way to make yourself effective. I was really motivated by the rise of Hugh Carthy, and I wanted to be able to mentor him and help him. I said, ‘Okay, I’m still a good climber. Maybe I can stay with him in the high mountains and give him support.’ I’m not skilled enough to be like those cobbled classics guys who are able to shepherd their leader through all the tricky sections. We have guys like Jens Keukeleire and Alberto Bettiol who are much more effective at that than I could ever be. But the truth is I wasn’t able to just climb into a group of the 20 best anymore, to be able to give a leader like Hugh support in the high mountains. So I was riding around thinking, well, what do I do? How am I effective in the race? And if I really took a good, honest look in the mirror, I said, “Well, if you have eight people to fill a roster, I could name eight people that would serve a purpose better than I could serve that purpose.”
— Mary Lee Mahony to www.efprocycling.com