Dan Patten has been a regular blogger on our site over the years.
Dan came late to cycling, a talented runner but a niggling injury saw him turn to the bike. His first race was in July 2006, it took him 10 races to get his first win.
For 2007 he rode with UK team Pacific Flanders, and by the end of the season he had three wins a first category licence.
In 2008 with PCA Ciclos Uno, he took four wins and was ranked top ten in the UK.
He went into 2009 having signed for the UCI Continental squad Magnus Maximus Coffee.com and was also selected for support by the John Ibbotson fund throughout the season.
The programme with the espresso boys perhaps wasn’t what he’d expected but he scored wins and placings in the UK and won a stage of the U6 Cycle Tour in Sweden and in the process took 2nd overall on the General Classification.
His best UK ride was probably being in the break of the day and taking the King of the Mountains title at the East Yorkshire Classic Premier Calendar event.
But as soon as he fully understood the dynamics of the sport in 2010, he headed across the Channel to ride full time where nobody tells you; ‘Hey mate, your back wheel’s goin’ round!’
He rode for Oudenaarde based Asfra Flanders for two seasons before stepping up to the prestigious Soenens Construkt Glass team, last year.
We’ve always respected his single mindedness in pursuing his ‘Flatlands Dream’ – but for 2013 it’s ‘all change’ for the man from Essex.
He’ll shortly be crossing a bigger stretch of water than the La Manche to race his bike – the vast North Atlantic. After another season of solid results in Belgium he’s decided to change direction and pursue the ‘American Dream.’
Here’s what he had to say to VeloVeritas, recently.
How did 2012 go, Dan?
“I was happy with my season, it’s never easy to get wins in Belgium but I got two in August, as well as podiums and top ten placings.”
Were you sorted for 2013 in Flanders, if you wished?
“Yeah, my 2012 team, Soenens Construkt Glass offered me a place and if the US offer hadn’t come up then I’d have been happy to stay with them.
“In fact, they’ve said that if it doesn’t work out then I can go back and ride for them.”
How and why the United States?
“I sent out my CV and test data to various US teams during the season.
“I didn’t get many bites but Team Smartstop Mountain Khakis were interested right away.
“I’ve always thought about the USA, I feel it can open doors because you have a good number of Pro Continental teams there which need riders and ride US/Euro programmes.
“At 26 my age is against me in Europe – I came late to cycling from athletics – but I believe that it’s less of an issue in the USA.”
What’s the set-up going to be for you?
“The team is registered in North Carolina but I’ll be living in Athens, Georgia; there’s a good race scene there and some of my team mates live there, too.
“Mountain Khakis is a big outdoor clothing retailer in North America and Smartstop is a storage company.
“I looked into the team and they had a good 2012 with a lot of success in criteriums.
“As well as the criteriums, they’re looking for invites to bigger races in 2013.
“For this year they have Bobby Lea, who’s twice ridden the Olympics for the US and the current Canadian national criterium champion, Ben Chaddock.
“I’m getting my accommodation, clothing and Wilier bikes as part of the deal – they don’t claim to be the biggest Continental team in the US but they’re well organised and well funded.”
When does your season start?
“The season starts in April with the Redlands and Joe Martin stage races.
“The team’s main goals are road and stage races – but we’ll be riding the criteriums too.”
The US is a big place . . .
“There’s a big difference in that respect – they say that in Belgium; ‘you’re only ever an hour from anywhere!’
“With my first races being in California, it’ll be an internal flight to get there – we plan to go early and ride some local races just to acclimatise.”
How do your folks feel about the move?
“They’re all for it, once we looked into it they could see that there was the possibility of doors opening for me.
“I’ve been happy in Belgium but maybe this is a better path for me?”
Did you ever consider a British Continental team?
“I considered it and I did enquire but when the US opportunity came up I decided to take it.
“The other thing is that with Endura merging with NetApp, that’s put a lot of riders on the market and team places are lot less easy to get.”
Llewellyn Kinch and Douglas Dewey have both moved to France for 2013 – is that something you considered?
“It’s not something I’ve thought about recently, although I did when I first received John Ibbotson Fund support to go abroad to race.”
“It’s big news and bad for the sport, cheating is always bad – but that was just the culture of the sport at the time.
“He’s taking all the flak because he was the most successful manipulator of the system at that time.”
Is ‘kitting’ still as much of a problem in Belgium?
“I dont know and whether there is or not I don’t let it bother me – you just have to get on with your own racing.
“I’ve proved that I can compete well at a high level, totally clean.
“I do think that the culture in the sport is far better than it was 10 years ago but in any walk of life there will always be guys looking for an unfair advantage.”
What do you want from 2013?
“I want to make an impact on the US scene.
“I have high expectations for myself, after spending three years racing in Belgium I’m aiming for the highest level in the US.
“I always seem to come to my best form towards the end of the season so I’ll be looking for the best opportunities then.”
Dan will be keeping us abreast of his US adventure on his Blog as the season unfolds, VeloVeritas wishes him luck in the ‘Land of the Free.’