PCG Elite Coach Omer Kem has been at the top of the cycling world in the USA as a professional cyclist and a team captain. We asked him what it takes to be a pro, and here's what he said.
I wish there was an easy answer. It seems like talent is an obvious one, but honestly, in eight years of professional cycling and now fives year of directing, I would take determination over talent any day. It all comes down to who wants it more, who is driven to succeed, and who will give anything and everything to achieve their dream/goal. It's much, much easier to stop and take a break instead of suffering to the end.
My time as a pro and director gave me the opportunity to work with some real talents, but only a couple of those talented athletes have actually had a successful career in cycling. Most find cycling way too hard and give up. The key to success for those who did make it was talent coupled with an undying desire to never give up and never settle for less than everything they had. The same is true for the less talented racers who became pros; their drive was so great that in the long term it more than made up for any lack of natural talent or ability. They learned their opponents, they dissected their own strengths and weaknesses, and they took ownership of every aspect of their success.
That is the type of rider I look for. I can teach anyone how to race, but I can't force anyone to suffer. And that's what it takes.
If you want to be a pro, give everything you have, every day. Never stop reaching for what you want, because with enough drive and time, you just might get it.
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