McCabe, SmartStop going for win at Tour of Alberta

Travis McCabe has a big, daunting goal for the 2014 Tour of Alberta: a stage win.

“After racing Utah and Colorado, I know I have the speed and fitness to be successful, so it all comes down to execution,” McCabe said of the tour that begins Tuesday and runs through Sept. 7.

McCabe and fellow Arizonan Eric Marcotte are returning to Canada with Team SmartStop, the upstart crew that has stunned the cycling establishment this year. The Tour of Alberta is where the Arizonans’ pro tour careers began a year ago, when McCabe and Marcotte first appeared with SmartStop after competing together on the elite amateur Elbowz Racing squad.

McCabe and Marcotte recently re-signed with Smartstop for the 2015 season, the team announced.

It has been a spectacular year for Smartstop, which clinched 17 wins and currently leads the UCI America Tour team rankings. Marcotte, a Scottsdale chiropractor, and McCabe, who lives in Tucson, shocked the cycling world in May by taking first and second place in the U.S. National Road Race Championship. McCabe also is National Race Calendar leader.

“This year has been absolutely incredible,” McCabe said. “The number of wins and podiums that have been accumulating over the past nine months has just been awesome. Nobody ever expected this much success this year from us as a team. For me, I accomplished just about every goal I set and then some.”

Marcotte added: “It would be a dream to have accomplished what we have. So, it was not expected, but we were ready for it.”

Last year, McCabe had a top-10 stage finish in the Tour of Alberta, but he acknowledged at the time his nervousness about riding against cycling stars like Peter Sagan (Cannondale) and Cadel Evans (BMC).

With a year of pro tour experience behind him, McCabe enters the 2014 Tour of Alberta feeling more confident and comfortable.

“The courses consist of short, punchy climbing which suits me really well, so I’m very excited for the race and I will definitely be going for it,” he said.

Marcotte also is returning to Alberta a more seasoned rider.

“My goal is to be the best I can be for the team, as in any race I start,” he said.

The field of 120 cyclists also will feature Belkin Pro Cycling’s Dutchmen Bauke Mollema, who was the 10th place finisher at this year’s Tour de France, and Steven Kruijswijk, the 15th place finisher. Recent Tour of Utah winner, American Tommy Danielson, and Tom-Jelte Slagter, a two-time 2014 Paris-Nice stage winner, both of Garmin-Sharp, will also be in the mix.

Team SmartStop will include Canadian Rob Britton, second overall in Canada’s second biggest stage race, the Tour d’Beauce.

Team director Michael Creed recently told CyclingNews that re-signing Marcotte and McCabe was a crucial part of the team’s goal of equaling or bettering this year’s results.

“Obviously [Marcotte and McCabe] been a big part of the team this year, so we kind of put ourselves out there and signed them early just to kind of send a message that we’re going to be back next year,” Creed told Cyclingnews. “I don’t know if we’re going to be bigger or better. I think saying bigger and better is kind of ham-fisted and overused, but I want to try and make lightning strike twice. So that’s what I’m going for.”

After a year with the pro tour, McCabe said he has learned to “spend energy wisely and to not give up.”

“I learned that racing isn’t always fun and games and that certain moments can really suck, but this is my job now and I have to be able to do what is asked of me,” McCabe told

The Tour of Alberta begins Tuesday, Sept. 2. Watch live on Universal Sports.

Michael Murphy