Adam Duvendeck is no stranger to pain. It goes with his sport. “Pain and cycling are synonymous,” says the 26-year-old Santa Barbara athlete, who competed in track cycling at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens and is striving to make a repeat appearance in Beijing this summer.
But during the 2008 UCI Track Cycling World Championships at Manchester, England, a mysterious ailment sent so much pain shooting up his spine “that it brought tears to my eyes,” Duvendeck said. Nevertheless, he pushed through a furious lap that helped the U.S. finish 10th in the team sprint. “We broke the national record by half a second,” said Duvendeck. His teammates were Michael Blatchford of Cypress, California, and Giddeon Massie of Zionhill, Pennsylvania. Taking consecutive turns around the 250-meter track, they were clocked in 45.128 seconds.
“The top four teams in the world are pretty invincible,” said Duvendeck, listing world champion France, Great Britain, the Netherlands, and Germany. But given a shot, he said, the U.S. trio could contend for a top-five finish.
The Manchester races took place six weeks ago, and Duvendeck said he is training hard again with no recurrence of the back injury. “I’ve seen all sorts of specialists, but I still don’t know what it was,” he said.
Duvendeck is preparing for time trails to be staged by USA Cycling on May 15-16 at the ADT Event Center Velodrome at the Home Depot Center in Carson. He will attempt to qualify for the Olympics in the individual sprint. He had his best international result on that track during the Los Angeles World Cup in January, finishing eighth out of more than 50 riders.
“I haven’t reached my potential,” Duvendeck said. “I see myself on the podium someday.”
Duvendeck took off two years after competing in the team sprint at Athens. He went to school at City College, coached the UCSB cycling team, and worked part-time as a parking valet. He began working out at P3 (the Peak Performance Project) in Santa Barbara and felt his strength and power were improving. Last year, he moved to Long Beach to train with the Momentum Cycling Team. Among his teammates is Jennie Reed, who won a gold medal in the women’s keirin at the World Championships.
“This time around, I’m enjoying the sport more than ever,” Duvendeck said. “I have so much admiration for our team and Dr. Howard Marans [the owner of Momentum Cycling]. He’s put us in a position to contend. And I appreciate all my family and friends in Santa Barbara who have supported me.”
The thrill of seeing how fast he can go around the steeply banked velodrome is a reward in itself, Duvendeck said. “In the past, the Olympics were everything to me. People put so much pressure on us, it almost discounted everything else we do. Now I want to do well in the World Cups and all my races.”
He competed in a test event last December in Beijing. “One day, the air was disgusting,” he said. “I heard it was only half as bad as it could be. And I don’t approve of China’s policies and their human rights record. But the Olympics are still an incredible experience. It’s a time to celebrate sport and competition.”
The competition in the individual cycling sprint can be gnarly. There are no lanes on the track, and the riders go shoulder-to-shoulder as they race the last 200 meters after a flying start. Duvendeck’s best 200 time is 10.41 seconds-better than 40 miles per hour.
Duvendeck graduated from San Marcos High in 2000. Mark Warkentin, another San Marcos grad (1998), became the first American to qualify for the Olympic 10-km open water swimming event when he placed seventh in the World Championships last Sunday in Spain.
Like track cycling, open water swimming is contested without lanes. “It’s like roller derby in the water,” said UCSB coach Gregg Wilson, who helped train Warkentin. It was so rough in Seville’s Guadalquivir River on Sunday that two swimmers, including 1,500 freestyle gold medalist Grant Hackett of Australia, were disqualified for interfering with other swimmers. Warkentin managed to steer clear of trouble and nab an Olympic berth that eluded him when he competed in the 1996, 2000, and 2004 U.S. trials in the pool.
Top Sporting Events: May 6-11
Thursday, May 8
High school boys tennis CIF playoffs: Fullerton at Santa Barbara, 3 p.m.; Crespi at Dos Pueblos, 3 p.m.; San Marcos at Harvard-Westlake, 3 p.m.
High school baseball Ventura at Dos Pueblos, 3:15 p.m.’ Cabrillo at Carpinteria, 4 p.m.
High school softball Buena at San Marcos, 3:30 p.m.
Friday, May 9
College baseball UCSB at Long Beach State, 7 p.m.
High school swimming CIF Finals at Long Beach Belmont Plaza, 6 p.m.
High school boys volleyball CIF playoffs: Burbank Burroughs at Santa Barbara, 7 p.m.; Segerstrom at Dos Pueblos, 7 p.m.; San Marcos at Arroyo Grande, 7 p.m.
Basketball Hollywood Shooting Stars at Santa Barbara Breakers, SBCC Sports Pavilion, 7:05 p.m.
Saturday, May 10
High school track & field CIF Division 4 prelims at Carpinteria High, 12 p.m.
College tennis NCAA tournament: UCSB vs. Stanford at Pepperdine, 2 p.m.
College baseball UCSB at Long Beach State, 6 p.m.
Basketball Pasadena Slam at Santa Barbara Breakers, SBCC Sports Pavilion, 7:05 p.m.
Sunday, May 11
College baseball UCSB at Long Beach State, 1 p.m.