He’s the baby-faced charger of the brutally hard Baby Giro, a stage winner at the Tour de Tongue, the Tour d’Eure et Loir, three-time US Pro criterium champion, super Super Domestique at the UCI Gravel Worlds, and shoe-in for a Gilette deal. A man that can sell things for smooth skin. Hell, he could almost convince us that racing gravel is fun. Almost. Meet Luke Lamperti, a Sebastopol-born speed merchant with a name that could flood a carburetor at fifty paces.
A few weeks back, raving reporter Jim Merithew caught up with Luke at the Gravel Worlds in Italy to hear about his quick step to fame, his Californian roots, and his top tips for smoking it in the off-season. He also snapped the snaps.
We recently saw you and Keegan Swenson raging at the front end of the UCI Gravel World Championships. How was that experience for you, and do you see yourself doing more gravel races even after turning pro?
Gravel Worlds was a very nice intro to gravel for me. I enjoyed the race and environment there the whole week with USAC. It was very similar to the road, with a few differences, of course. I do enjoy the decoupling and would love to race some more gravel races in the next few years.
Speaking of turning professional, you recently signed your first pro contract with Soudal Quick-Step through 2025. Can you give us a short version of how you got to this point and what the experience has been like?
I started racing bicycles in Northern California at the age of 10 after growing up riding and racing dirt bikes from the age of 3. I slowly transitioned to racing bicycles full-time and have not looked back since. I slowly worked my way up through the sport as a junior racing in Europe with USA cycling and then onto three years with TRINITY Racing as an under-23 before turning pro the following season. It has gone by faster than I could imagine, but it has taken a lot of hard work and commitment to the sport.
How do you think growing up in Sebastopol and having early riding/racing experiences in Northern California shaped you as a rider and person?
Northern California has made me a better rider. To this day, where I grew up in Sebastopol is my favorite riding in the world. Year-round, you can ride and train outside in good weather conditions. There are also so many ex-pros to look up to from the area and to learn and train from, which has helped my journey.
We know you love the one-day classics. Do you have a particular favorite you would love to target?
I would love to do Roubaix as a dream race. I am not sure if I will say the same after doing it, but it's a classic I have grown up watching, and I would love to be able to do it with Soudal-Quickstep.
The Wolf Pack is packed full of talent, and we can't wait to see what you get up to. What does the immediate future hold?
The immediate future is the next two years of learning and growing with the team. I hope to step up to the level as fast as possible and be able to battle for the win in some of the lower-level single-day skirmishes and stage races. From there, I will reassess and make new goals after this contract.
You're living most of the year in Girona now. Do you have three insider Girona tips for cyclists coming from the US to explore Girona?
I've lived in Girona for two years and love it there. My three insider tips would be :
- Go to Banyoles Lake, a 45-minute ride from Girona, for a coffee and swim in summer.
- Do a Rupit loop for a long endurance day - one of my absolute favorite rides.
- Go to La Comuna coffee shop in town. It's the best.
And finally, for those of us hoping to maintain some semblance of fitness in the off-season, can you share some of your off-season plans to make 2024 the year of Luke Lamperti?
Outside the racing calendar, I start with 3-4 weeks off in October and then train again in November. I like to ease back into it. It's important not to be too focused on efforts early in the season, as it's a marathon, not a sprint. I'll do a bit of cross-training mixed in with riding throughout the first month, for example, and then get into the detailed training as January comes up on the horizon.