Sevastopol national champion and cycling star Luke Lamperti recounts his thrilling victory in Tennessee

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Skier, wakeboarder, former motocross racer and 8-time national cycling champion, Luke Lamperti has a wide range of talents. One of them finds his mother in the crowd.

“Somehow, halfway through a race, he’ll find me and make eye contact,” said Maxine Lamperti, who has learned over the years to read the phrase on Luke’s face at that point.

“He gives me a look, or a nod, and I can tell if he’s feeling good or if he’s not.

On June 18 in Knoxville, Tennessee, Luke Lamperti, 18, of Sevastopol, was feeling good.

Halfway through the men’s criterium at the US National Road Cycling Championships, he looked strong and confident.

“I didn’t know if he would win,” said Maxine, “but I thought he would end up on the podium.”

Shorter than a road race, a criterium is more stressful and intense, a series of laps around a fixed course, with riders crowded, turning and scrambling for position. Maxine and her husband, Tony – they own Tony’s Trucks & Toys, a used car dealership in Santa Rosa – had staked out a spot at the last turn, a left turn down a slight downhill straight away to the finishing line.

On the last lap, a few moments before the leading group reached this turn, there was a fall: two pilots hit the bridge. One of them, Travis McCabe, was the reigning national champion of the event.

Bypassing them, Luke catapulted himself down the home stretch behind the wheel of Sam Bassetti. It was a small world at the head of a big race: Bassetti is from Santa Rosa.

‘Oh my god he’s gonna do that’

Summoning supreme effort – the power meter on Lamperti’s bike showed it was producing almost 1,500 watts, a ridiculous number – he withdrew from Bassetti’s wake.

“Oh my God,” Maxine remembers thinking, “he’s going to do this.”

And he did.

Two weeks after graduating from Cardinal Newman High School, days after returning from Europe, where he had competed this spring for his UK-based team, Trinity Racing, Lamperti became the youngest professional criterium winner. American. .

While this result amazed the cycling world – Lamperti was not only one of the youngest riders in the 129-man peloton, but he raced without team-mates – it was less surprising for the winner himself.

“Honestly, no,” Lamperti said, when asked if the victory came as a shock. Fluent in Europe, he had been off the radar of many of his US-based criterium opponents, who may have overlooked him. “But I knew I had the ability to be up there” ahead of the pack, “and do well.”

Lamperti and Bassetti are both offspring of the Santa Rosa Swift Team, a junior cycling development program founded by ex-professional racer Laura Charameda, who was thrilled to hear her alumni took the first two. podium places at the elite men’s criterium in Knoxville.

“I mean, can you believe that?” ” she said. “First and second in the country, all from the little Swift team! “

An improbable prodigy

Growing up in Sevastopol, Lamperti and his family spent many weekends at his grandfather’s ranch in Clearlake Oaks. Luke and his older brother Gianni – an exceptional rider in his own right, who would go on to win the 2019 U.S. Junior National Road Title – spent much of their time motocrossing on a ranch track. Around the age of 9, Luke decided he wanted to be a bike race

“He’s too young,” Charameda remembers, telling his parents.

– I don’t know, replied Maxine. “He’s pretty good.

He was, in fact, a prodigy, winning 7 national championships per age group at the age of 15. But it was an unlikely wonder. As a toddler, Luke was stubbornly risk averse, unwilling “to do anything,” recalls Maxine. “He was like, ‘No, when I’m 3, I will.'”

He was true to his word. At the age of 3, Luke took up motocross. His father attached training wheels to his mountain bike. After completing their chores at the ranch, the boys ran on a track Tony had built. At one point, they started mountain biking to practice motocross. Luke and Gianni liked their bikes so much that they decided to start racing on them.

He was competing for Team Swift before his 10th birthday. In this hyper-competitive world, how not to exhaust yourself?

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