Search for Speed Athlete Profile: Sterling Reneau

By: Jim Rutberg, TORRE  February 28, 2024

Get to know Search for Speed finalist, Sterling Reneau.

Search for Speed is a new talent identification program designed to introduce track cycling to diverse and underrepresented communities in Los Angeles, providing youth and young adults with a dedicated pathway to the U.S. National Team. Funded by a generous grant from the Rapha Foundation and support from LOOK Cycle and Wattbike, Search for Speed utilizes a multi-stage screening process to identify key talent markers and introduce participants to track cycling. In January 2024, five finalists earned selection to the US National Team Program. Sterling Reneau is one of the finalists.

The Olympic Games run in Sterling Reneau’s DNA. His father, Paul Reneau, represented Belize as a 100-meter Track & Field sprinter in the 1984 Games in Los Angeles, and again as a track cyclist in the 1988 Games in Seoul, Korea. Sterling’s pathway to the Olympic Games started on the running track through high school and college, and he’s taken the next step toward his dreams by qualifying as one of five finalists in USA Cycling’s Search for Speed program.

By the time Sterling graduated from the University of Montana in 2019, he had racked up an impressive list of Track & Field accolades, including three Big Sky Conference Championships in the 400-meter and both the indoor and outdoor 4x400-meter relays. But his long Track & Field career also came with a long list of injuries, which dimmed Sterling’s prospects – and desires – for a professional post-collegiate T&F career.

“I decided to hang up the track cleats while I still had time to kind of transition to a different sport,” Sterling commented. “Cycling was something I had been around my whole life, so I decided I would see if I could get into cycling, and track cycling specifically. That was back in 2019, so it's taken me four or five years to get to this point.”

Noting that staying in Montana didn’t offer a lot of opportunities for track or road cycling, Sterling leveraged his Exercise Science degree from the University of Montana to earn a position as a bike fitter at Cyclologic in Scottsdale, Arizona, with renowned bike fit expert Paraic McGlynn. “I moved to Scottsdale in June of 2022 to work at a world-class bike shop as a biomechanist and professional bike fitter. And then a buddy from Montana sent me a link for the Search for Speed. I decided to take the leap of faith because that was really the only opportunity out there that I knew of, so just I did it.”

The Search for Speed Process

In early 2023, Search for Speed hosted open testing opportunities throughout Southern California. “My testing site was in a tiny little boxing gym somewhere in Los Angeles,” said Sterling. “So, I drove over from Phoenix to get on that WattBike for six seconds. And that was it, a six-second power test. For men, you had to get over 1500 watts for peak power.” Sterling achieved the standard and was invited to the second round, which featured more extensive testing, including reaction time, a vertical jump test, a 40-yard dash, and a Wingate test.

Based on his performances in the talent identification protocols, Sterling was invited to the Talent Integration phase, which consisted of three 10-day training camps, about six weeks apart, in early September, late October, and early December of 2023. “The first camp was just learning. And we had a training plan for cycling and the weight room between camps,” Sterling explained. “Basically, they were looking at progression over those three camps. Then that last camp was where the cuts were made. If you hit the time standard at the end of that third camp, then you got invited to be where we are now.”

Advantages and Motivation

With a background in Track & Field, a degree in Exercise Physiology, and extensive experience in biomechanics and bike fit, Sterling felt he had some advantages over other contenders. “It's always just been my passion to understand the human body and understand how to maximize performance. Since I'm not in LA, I have the knowledge to help keep me where they need me to be,” Sterling explained. “I feel like that’s a big advantage, understanding the physiology behind what we're trying to accomplish, and how to have the correct training stimulus to accomplish those goals.”

Sterling’s passion for performance has deeper roots than collegiate athletics or even his father’s history as an Olympian. At age 14, Sterling had to have a bone transplant on the distal end of his femur due to bone death caused by a combination of genetics and repeated injuries. “I have cadaver bone in my body. When I was 14, I was waiting for somebody to pass away so I could get that bone. It was a life-changing thing for me. All of this is a second chance at being what I ultimately knew I could be when I was growing up. One of my favorite sayings is, ‘The best ability is availability.’ If you're not available to do what you need to do every single day, then you're not going to be the best you can be. So, I make sure to put in the time outside of our daily workouts to continue to be available to show up for those workouts.

Impressions on Search for Speed

Asked about the overall experience of participating in USA Cycling’s Search for Speed, Sterling focused on the diversity of talent he observed within the program: “At the first camp, we had people who had never ridden a bike to men and women who were racing internationally on the road, and guys like me and Elliot Davis who ran track in college. Then there’s Reid, who’s 6’9” and was a baseball player. We’re not the stereotypically short, stocky track cyclists; all of us are 6’2” or taller. If we can do what I think we can, I think it could change the thinking on what track cyclists can be. And I think that's what the Search for Speed is all about, revitalizing the pathway to building a great US National Track Cycling Team, and particularly the Men’s Team Sprint program.”

Sterling and the four other finalists (Elliot Davis, Reid Myers, Hayley Yoslov, and Catherine Hamilton) have been offered spots in the Sprint Development Pool training group as Talent Integration athletes. Although they are not yet National Team Athletes, they have been invited to receive further coaching and instruction in Los Angeles and are gaining access to the Sprint Development Pool Daily Training Environment. At the same time, Search for Speed continues.

For information about how to participate in the 2024 Open Combine format, visit SearchforSpeed.com.