JOHNSON COUNTY, Kan. -- A local cyclist competed against the best of the best - and he won. It happened as 21-year-old Alex Hoehn grabbed headlines at last week's Amgen Tour of California. FOX4's Sherae Honeycutt talked to him about what it could mean for his future in cycling.
"This one right here is my national championship jersey. This is the one I won last summer," Hoehn said while going through his framed jerseys in his family's Lake Quivira home. He's fairly new to cycling, and always dreamed of being a pro ice hockey player. Instead, he went for cycling. After riding seriously for a little over three years, he is competing next to the greats in the sport.
"[I] got the call from USA Cycling, and they were like - 'Hey, we'd like to have you on our team to race the Amgen Tour of California.' I was like oh my goodness. I pulled over and I was in tears. It is the most amazing opportunity to have in cycling," Hoehn said.
The seven-day, seven stage race is considered one of the best in the world. Competitors started in Sacramento, moved down the coast through the Bay Area, and to Southern California.
"To know that you're able to challenge the best guys in the world for jerseys that they really, really want," Hoehn said. "It makes you feel like you can hang in there, and you can actually do this."
Hoehn won the polka dot jersey two days in a row for outstanding uphill climbing each day, and at the end of the competition was honored with the Amgen Breakaway Most Courageous Rider jersey.
"This is a moment in history in my life that I'll never forget for the rest of my life," Hoehn said. "No matter if I succeed in cycling or if I quit tomorrow - this is going to be one of the most memorable jerseys I've ever won."
Hoehn's parents say they support him in his goals in professional cycling. His mother, Marla Hoehn, wasn't able to travel to California to see him race, but got a stream of pictures and phone calls about his progress. She says Alex continues to exceed their expectations for him.
"Seeing the results, I'm just like - Oh my goodness, Alex. Wow. That's really special. I don't expect the best in that area for them, or that high of an achievement, I just expect them to do the best they can and I support them. Anything above and beyond that is just an amazing and wonderful gift."
"To have supportive family is the first and foremost thing that I would say is the most important thing in my success in cycling," Hoehn said. "Secondly, dedication. Hard work and discipline. That takes you farther than talent will ever."
Hoehn hopes racing in Europe for a world tour, and to ride in the Tour de France someday would be a dream come true for him.
"It's the hardest sport in the world, that's for dang sure," Hoehn said. "There's nothing else I would ever choose to do but cycling."
Hoehn says he's recovering at home from the ride in California, but will be back to racing soon. He's training for the nationals later this year in Kentucky, and hopes to compete in the U23 Championship in Europe if he's able to.