However, the Spalding High senior realized a dream Monday when he boarded a plane bound for Belgium after receiving an invitation to join the U.S. Junior National team.
He was one of only five invited to train with the team through Sept. 1, including a trip to ride in Switzerland for four days.
“It’ll be a four-day stage race in Switzerland which will be really cool,” he said.
Call it a high.
Since taking up the sport competitively three years ago, Magner had always wanted to ride in Europe. But going into the season Europe might as well have been a million miles away.
“I was pretty laid back going into the season,” said the 17-year-old.
A series of sub-par performances followed, mostly in Georgia Cup Series Races.
“I was down on myself in April because I was not doing well,” said Magner, who also plays soccer and has run cross country at Spalding High.
How bad did it get? Magner was ready to give up the sport altogether after placing 22nd, 26th, 25th, 30th, 21st, 67th, 65th, 68th and not finishing another race.
Instead, Magner, who rides for the Greenville, S.C.-based Hincapie (who rode with Lance Armstrong on team Discovery)-Barkley development team, decided to give it one more push. It proved to be well worth the effort as he entered races this summer in Massachusetts, Canada, Arkansas, Georgia and Los Angeles.
“I started training hard and doing well,” said Magner.
It didn’t take long for it to start showing up. Magner took first-place at a race in Union City in May, first at the category 2 pro-am criterium race at the Georgia Cup Race Series in Rome during June and placed an impressive fourth in a criterium at Nationals in Los Angles earlier this month.
It was there that he made a strong impression at the right time.
He had not fared well in earlier race there, not finishing a race. Then came his fourth-place finish, the day a U.S. National coach, Benjamin Sharp (who road with former Olympian Tommy Mulkey from Griffin), was following behind him in a car watching.
“I missed the original (lead pack) break, five guys,” said Magner, who never stopped attacking. “The whole race I was by myself. Eventually I pulled the break back.”
It got Magner noticed.
“That helped a lot,” he said, as far as getting the coveted e-mail days later to join the team in Belgium.
In all, there will be 10 men on the team. A second five will train during the fall in Italy.
Magner said for now he is just happy to be headed to Europe where cycling is taken to another level.