Local Cyclist Thomas Wrona Lighting It Up
Expect one young local rider to turn a lot of heads at tomorrow’s Tour de Moore.
Thomas Wrona has been making a habit of that recently. The Union Pines sophomore, fresh off a successful trip to Europe with the Hot Tubes Junior Development Cycling Team, will be making his second appearance in Moore County’s spring classic.
He and his Hot Tubes team competed in four races during their two-week trip across the pond, including competitions in Belgium and France. The biggest highlight, according to Wrona, was a major junior stage race in the hills of Brittany in which he finished second among young riders and 11th overall out of 150 starters. He finished fifth overall during the first stage of the race and led the young riders competition.
“Wearing the best young riders jersey after stage 1 of this race would have to be my proudest moment,” he said. “Anytime I can contribute to the team’s success is also a proud moment for me.”
Wrona has been riding seriously since he was 8, but didn’t start racing until he was 10. He completed his first full season in 2006.
Last year, he caught the attention of Toby Stanton, the team director for the Hot Tubes team. Wrona said that he had known about Hot Tubes practically since he started cycling because of its reputation as being the best junior development team in the country.
The Hot Tubes team is the equivalent of the Boston Celtics or New York Yankees in terms of junior cycling teams. The program attracts the best of the best junior riders, according to Stanton.
“He, like everyone else, was trying to get my attention and he raced well,” Stanton said. “And he was a nice kid and he got my attention and we gave him a chance. We went to training camp this winter in the Bahamas and then we had a training camp in Georgia and I got to see how good he was.”
Stanton said that first year members of the team are always sort of a gamble because they don’t know what to expect. But he said Wrona came to the team prepared mentally and physically, which has led to his early success.
Stanton called Wrona’s performance in Europe “shocking.” He said its easy to underestimate Wrona because of his size, but as the races got harder, he got better.
“He’s putting the hurt on these guys,” he said. “He just shouldn’t have been able to do that at his age and his experience.”
What’s even more impressive is that Wrona is considerably younger than his fellow competitors. Though his “racing age” is 17 (his age at the end of the calendar year), he just turned 16 in December.
The Hot Tubes team is truly a year-round commitment. The team competes in 60-80 events a year and is on the road a lot. Stanton said that the only way for his young riders to pull this off is for them to be exceptional students, which they are.
Wrona is excited to return home and race on the Tour de Moore’s familiar course tomorrow.
“The Tour de Moore is a fun race for me as I ride the roads on the course all the time in training,” he said. “This race is unusual in the distance and difficulty of the course. The prize money for this race is also great.”
Going forward, Wrona has his sights set on turning professional. Stanton said Wrona will have a busy schedule through the summer, working with the national team in the spring. The world championships are in August if Wrona makes the roster.
Wrona credits his parents for helping and influencing him. He also credits Stanton for being a mentor, and he is enjoying his time with the Hot Tubes team.
“So far the team has been great,” Wrona said. “From the racing, to the experience, to my teammates, it has all been very fun. I have learned a lot just from being in the environment I’ve been exposed to so far — about the racing, about important skills to have and about being a good teammate.
“All in all, I am so happy with the Hot Tubes and I have to thank everyone involved with the team.”
Contact John Krahnert III at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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