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Steve Breazeale

Michael Johnson comes from a racing background. His father, John Johnson, was an avid cyclist and helped mold Michael into the racer he is today.

Weekly camping trips to the Mojave Desert for bike racing became a family tradition.

Since then, Michael has gone on to become a successful cyclist, competing in national criterium—fast-paced, closed course cycling—races as part of sponsored, professional racing teams. While Johnson excelled at the family’s shared passion, John was always there to cheer him on. John and his wife, Sue, moved to Mission Viejo in 2010 to be closer to Johnson, who lived in Newport Beach.

But in January of last year tragedy struck the Johnson family when John died as a result of mesothelioma, a rare cancer commonly caused by exposure to asbestos. Johnson recalled how his father had been misdiagnosed and made a point to raise money and awareness for mesothelioma treatment.

When looking over options to get the word out, Johnson naturally turned to the cycling community. Behind the Johnson’s family efforts, the Dana Point Grand Prix of Cycling’s Pro 1 NCC race has been officially named the John Johnson Pro Mens Classic.

“I was trying to think of a way since my father passed away to honor his legacy and make it known that this asbestos production in the United States has to stop,” Johnson said. “My mission is to help raise awareness to these particular people that get sick.”

Johnson, 44, will compete in the Elite Master 35 + category on Sunday, May 5 as part of the event.

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