Paul Magnier and Luke Lamperti celebrate going 1-2 on Tour of Oman stage 3.

A Super Bowl loss at breakfast turns to victory a few hours later

Luke Lamperti has announced himself in Oman before aiming at a debut Classics season.

Jonny Long
by Jonny Long 12.02.2024 Photography by
Cor Vos and Pauline Ballet
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Luke Lamperti sat at breakfast in a hotel just behind Muscat International Airport watching his home NFL team, the San Francisco 49ers, lose a Super Bowl to the Kansas City Chiefs and their inevitable quarterback Patrick Mahomes.

He’s admittedly not the biggest American football fan in the world, but the kid who grew up an hour north of San Francisco put his phone down after Mahomes threw the game-winning overtime touchdown pass, gathered his Soudal-Quick Step kit and wrote the latest page in his own sporting history by taking the leader’s jersey at the Tour of Oman.

On the shortened queen stage 3 of the Tour of Oman, the faster men of the bunch were back in action instead of the climbers. Yesterday’s torrential rain made the Eastern Mountain summit finish not worth the risk for the race organisers, and so Lamperti and his 19-year-old teammate Paul Magnier cantered up the finishing drag to take first and second instead.

Magnier admitted he was actually supposed to lead Lamperti out today, but the duo are content with having outclassed a WorldTour-calibre field and establishing themselves in their first few months of WorldTour life. Lamperti has now been runner-up three times during this stage race and the Muscat Classic precursor, but a leader’s jersey, points jersey, and youth jersey has undoubtedly softened the blow of these close calls to a maiden victory with his WorldTour team.

“We wanted to win with me today and Paul was meant to do the leadout,” the Californian explained back in the hotel after the stage. “But he was able to wait long enough that then when he was able to go he was also really strong so he was able to win and I was second, so it was perfect. If we can win as a team then everyone is happy.”

Paul Mangier wins Tour of Oman stage 3.
Pauline Ballet/ASO

Both young riders came from the same Trinity development team, and so there is an extra element of trust there when both are competing and able to take the victory. For Lamperti, however, he has an eye on his debut Classics season, and this showing in the Middle East should mean his position as reserve rider for the bigger contests will strip away any doubt Soudal’s selectors may have if a spot opens up to the American.

“I think the team always wants to take the best team to the races so if you’re going well then maybe I’ll do some more Classics coming this year already but for sure, doing the big races in the first year is a lot of pressure, and as the team want to win these races as a Belgian team, it’s hard to do these in your first year,” Lamperti said. “But for sure I would like to start getting experience now. I’ll spend some time with the Classics team in Belgium doing the smaller Classics and doing the recon and learning the roads. We’ll see what I end up doing; I’m a reserve for a lot of the races but of course I would like to do more.”

The 21-year-old grew up racing motocross but started riding a bicycle around 10 or 11, before eventually making the switch to racing. Making his way through junior teams, US national teams, the Lux and Trinity developments teams up to the WorldTour, “you could say I couldn’t have had much of a better start,” Lamperti argues of now taking this next step in the top division, “except lacking the wins, still. It will come soon.”

“There’s even levels to the WorldTour, for sure these bigger races are a different level to the races I have done already with the team,” he continued. “You always dream to win the big races, [Tour of] Flanders, [Paris-]Roubaix, if I want to do the Classics or as a sprinter you want to win stages in the Tour. There’s always something to chase. There’s always more you can do in cycling. I would never say you can always do everything.”

The peloton during Tour of Oman stage 3.
Pauline Ballet/ASO

So, is Lamperti a Classics guy or a sprinter?

“It’s hard to say right now, I’m still young,” he answered. “Normally, I would say I’d do more the Classics and I think that’s been the case here. I’ve done better almost on the climbing days. I think we’ll find out more this season.

“When I first started watching the races, [Peter] Sagan was the guy at the top so I think this was the guy I wanted to be like and someone to look up to.” Which is maybe the best way to understand Lamperti’s ambitions and why he doesn’t want to get pigeonholed just yet.

“As a junior and U23 I did quite a few cobbled races,” he then qualifies to a Belgian reporter. “I missed Roubaix but for sure I love it and racing in Belgium is probably my favourite place in the world to race.”

At Soudal, where resources for the Classics have been watered down to aid Remco Evenepoel’s Grand Tour ambitions, a window has opened for the likes of Lamperti to gain experience in a famous squad that in years past would have been packed to the rafters with riders who’d take up the spots in March and April’s Classics squads.

“At heart they still want to win in Belgium and at the Classics, it will always be that way,” Lamperti analyses his team. “You already feel the atmosphere and I’m not even in Belgium yet for the Classics, they’re still a few weeks away, and it’s already being talked about in the team and everybody’s already looking forward to it.”

Luke Lamperti in the leader's jersey after Tour of Oman stage 3.
Pauline Ballet/ASO

It wasn’t until 16 or 17 that he started watching cycling on television, when he came to Europe to start racing. Before that, his time zone and streaming offerings made it hard to connect to the sport he now finds himself in the middle of.

Instead, it was now the game he’d grown up watching that was taking place at an uncomfortable hour.

“I was sitting at breakfast this morning watching overtime in the Super Bowl, I can’t say I watch the whole season of American football but yeah you always watch the Super Bowl. It’s one of the biggest sporting events in the world and I’ve watched it every year since I was a kid. To watch it this morning at breakfast and see my home team losing in the last 10 seconds can be hard but at least today in the race we won as a team, that’s one win for the day.”

Just don’t expect Taylor Swift turning up on the corner out of the Arenberg Trench anytime soon.

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