Pro Bike Check: Michael van den Ham is pursuing gravel on his new Giant Revolt

While taking on greater than a dozen gravel and mountain bike races would possibly seem to be a busy summer season forward, that’s nothing in comparison with Michael van den Ham’s Fall cyclocross schedule, full of home and worldwide race targets. But that’s enterprise as typical for the longtime bicycle owner.

MVDH Giant Revolt Pro Bike Check log hop

All photographs c. James Lissimore

What is totally different is his tighter focus on gravel—pushing limits on the updated Giant Revolt gravel bike earlier than shifting to ‘cross.

MVDH Giant Revolt Pro Bike Check fast blur

Despite simply ending the cyclocross season at World Championships in Arkansas, van den Ham is nearly instantly pivoting to gravel—a shift that doesn’t simply require a change of motorbike, however a significant change in coaching technique.

MVDH Giant Revolt Pro Bike Check forest

Michael’s season began March 12 at MidSouth in Oklahoma (the place he completed 18th general), earlier than heading to Sea Otter after which returning to Canada for Paris to Ancaster, racing nearly each weekend via the summer season. His schedule consists of some mountain bike racing in Canada, and whereas he loves racing on the paths, he’s additionally serving as MTB Head Coach with DEVO—the youth arm of the Escape Velocity Cycling Club in Vancouver—for the upcoming 12 months. Then, it’s onto a full cyclocross season.

MVDH Giant Revolt Pro Bike Check top

 “I’m really excited about gravel racing this season,” van den Ham says. “The new Revolt is noticeably lighter, feels a little snappier without losing stability, has more tire clearance, gives me the option to run a dropper, and has mounts for just about anything I could imagine. It’s going to be just as comfortable racing MidSouth as it will be riding the technical single track and chunky FSRs in my backyard in Chilliwack, BC.”

MVDH Giant Revolt Pro Bike Check dropper

“I used to try and set up all my gravel bikes to be as close to my ‘cross bikes as possible, but lately I’ve started to go in the complete opposite direction. The way I look at it, I already have a ‘cross bike, so I want my gravel bike to be about as far from that as possible to really expand my riding zone with a dropper post, 50c tires, and a double ring. It’s pretty easy to go from that more gravity gravel setup one weekend to a much racier feeling set up the next. Just flip the chip, put some 40c tires on, and you have a snappy-feeling gravel race bike.

MVDH Giant Revolt Pro Bike Check Pedals

The different huge distinction this 12 months is that he’s going all-in on himself as an athlete, choosing a privateer program that may permit him to focus on what issues most: racing onerous. With new illustration via Inspire Athlete Management (IAM), the 29-year-old Canadian has huge plans for the season forward. “Michael is exactly the kind of athlete we love to work with,” says Simon Williams of IAM. “He’s dedicated, focused, and talented, and with the right program in place, we believe he can do great things in cycling.”

MVDH Giant Revolt Pro Bike Check gravel bars easton

Williams’ sentiments are echoed by Steve Devantier, the Marketing Supervisor at Giant Canada: “Michael has always worn his heart on his sleeve, and it’s his honesty and passion for cycling that first grabbed our attention. Having an athlete as genuine as Michael representing our brand has been amazing, and one of the big reasons we were excited to sign with him for another two years. That, and he’s pretty quick on a bike.”

MVDH Giant Revolt Pro Bike Check mike happy

“I’ve always run my own program. I’ve never been on road teams, I’ve never been on a big cyclocross team—or at least, when I was, it was one that I was running! But these the past couple of years, I realized I was just spending so much energy and effort trying to make all these things happen, and the work required to run my own program was crushing me and affecting my ability to train and race effectively,” van den Ham explains. “I wanted to take it off my plate so I could focus on the real work I’m doing with racing. I feel like my entire career has been realizing that I don’t know what I’m capable of until I commit to doing something all the way.”

MVDH Giant Revolt Pro Bike Check

Already on board for the 2022 season are longtime companions Giant, Easton, Garneau, Robert Axle Project, and Challenge Tires. “Easton Cycling has been onboard with Michael since 2014, and we’re excited to support his new privateer program as he tackles a larger endurance schedule, ahead of his already expansive cyclocross calendar,” says Matt Hornland of Easton Cycling. “He continues to be the nicest Men’s Canadian Cyclocross National Champion we’ve ever sponsored and was a crucial part of getting the Easton Overland team off the ground. We’re stoked to support him again in 2022, alongside our friends at Giant.”

MVDH Giant Revolt Pro Bike Check saddle

As for the place he can go within the sport, who is aware of? Not even Van den Ham is certain. “First, I never thought I was going to be a professional cyclist. Then, I never thought I was going to be a National Champion. After that, I never thought I was going to get a top 20 in a World Cup,” he says. “I never thought any of these things, but I just kept working away and—despite common sense, despite everything—it kept on happening.”

MVDH Giant Revolt Pro Bike Check full with mike

Michael van den Hams’ Giant Revolt

Frame: Giant Revolt Pro Advanced 0 – Size M
Handlebar: Easton EC90 AX – 44cm
Bar Tape: Easton Microfibre Tape
Stem: Easton EA90 SL – 90mm
Seatpost: EA70 AX Dropper Post
Saddle: Giant Approach SL
Shifters: Shimano GRX RX-815
Front Derailleur: Shimano GRX RX-815
Rear Derailleur: Shimano GRX RX-815
Cassette: Shimano 11×34
Cranks: Easton EC90 SL, 172.5mm w/ 47/32 Easton AX Rings
Wheels: Easton EC90 AX
Tires: Challenge Gravel Grinder, Getaway, or Strade Bianca

Michael van den Hams’ Spring/Summer calendar:

  • March 12 – MidSouth
  • April 7-10 – Sea Otter
  • April 24 – Paris to Ancaster
  • April 30 – Belgian Waffle Ride
  • May 14 – Vedder Classic (Marathon XC)
  • May 21 – Rule of three Gravel (tentative)
  • June 4 – Lost and Found
  • June 17-19 – Canmore Canada Cup
  • June 22-26 – Oregon Trails Gravel Grinder
  • July 23 – Canadian XC Nationals
  • August 22-25 – Trans Rockies Gravel Royale

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