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Serghei says, leaning back in the chair. Blue jeans, a grey-scaled camo shirt, and gelled hair – a stark contrast to his Jelly Belly jersey at the Colorado Classic; still just as quiet.
“Yeah. I mean, you have to focus first, to get your goals, but at the same time you need to have fun.”
Originally from Moldova, Serghei made his move to the U.S. in 2010 – Georgia, of all places – after applying for the U.S. Diversity Visa program. Months after he applied, forgetting entirely about the application and perhaps by a stroke of luck, he was awarded an immigrant visa. Asking him, “Why Georgia,” Serghei said,
Because my friend in my country has a brother there. His brother is an ex-cyclist as well. He was in the Olympic games in 1996. He’s lived in the states since 1996. I called him and told him the situation. And he simply said, ‘Welcome!’
Serghei bagged groceries as he applied to team after team trying to realize his pro cyclist dream while living in Georgia. “If you focus too much, too deep, you’re screwed somewhere. Because cycling is a lot of luck, I mean, any sport is a lot of luck” he said, when asked what piece of advice he could give to aspiring pro cyclists.
Imagine standing alongside some of your biggest heroes.
A humble man, Serghei found himself sharing the podium at the USA Pro Challenge in 2014 with Tejay Van Garderen and Tom Danielson, saying, “For me, I was like, at the top of the league. Everything mattered in that race. It’s like, those big guys, and to be in the top three, that meant a lot to me, just for myself.”
Serghei said when he was a child in school, “You go into a national program, and you have the older guys, you see them traveling and making money, and you’re like, ‘I want to be there too.’ That’s what it was like growing up.” He’s living his dream: traveling and racing with the big guys.
His humility has persevered throughout his eight years of racing, even after having raced at the UCI level. Asking him, “You and Senni pulled away from the group really fast. I want to know what you were thinking,” Serghei said, “I watched that stage on TV and it looks like I was much stronger in that section.”
“My first experience with Colorado in 2012 was with Team Exergy” he said. “It only made sense to live where you were racing,” so Serghei spent damn near a month amongst the foothills with his Exergy Director.
“The training was perfect. I’m really kind of at an advantage at altitude now. So, I said, ‘When I have the opportunity to move to Colorado, I will move. So, in 2014, when I signed with my second season with Jelly Belly I moved here.”
Serghei moved to the Front Range, which, fortunately, is where the Team Evergreen Bicycling Club is based. Team Evergreen holds a spot near and dear to Primal’s heart. The people are amazing and the camaraderie in the club is outstanding. They’re advocates for cycling-friendly legislation and you’ll see their club jerseys out there while they build and clean trails in Colorado. Team Evergreen donated $2 Million to local organizations such as Peaks to Plains Trail, Bicycle Colorado, and COMBA just to name a few.
Serghei found Team Evergreen, again, out of happenstance, or let’s call it, “luck.”
“I found Team Evergreen through the Vice President, John Sladek in 2013. He was our host and was a huge fan of Jelly Belly. Then I met Eric Ely, the President of Team Evergreen. I stayed at his place a lot. We had conversations about my ideas for Team Evergreen. He found it interesting, my experience. I had the experience from Europe” Serghei said.
“So what do you do for them now?”
“We organize the Triple Bypass, because it’s huge. It’s amazing – like wow. A lot of people come over to ride it. It’s incredible. It’s great to be there,” Serghei said. This past year, The Triple Bypass was canceled due to fires in Breckenridge. Luckily, Team Evergreen made “lemons out of lemonade” by hosting several different rides led by pro cyclists.
“I really enjoyed this year’s ride,” Serghei said. “I really enjoyed leading a ride up to Mount Evans. It was a lot of fun because it wasn’t one way. It was up, down, and you have a party. We’re trying to think how we can do that again. There was like, three or four waves, with Tom Danielson.”
A humble man, not once gloating about his Stage Victory, his Best Colorado Rider win, and 2nd overall success in the General Classification for the Colorado Classic. Serghei hopped on his moped, smiling, and darted off on to Kipling Street, probably to try his luck on Lookout Mountain before the clouds rolled in.