A closer look at the American Continental outfits

USA Week: Ten teams that make up the backbone of domestic racing

Astellas Cycling Team

Mid-West based Astellas Cycling Team started in 2012 as an elite amateur program, racing a full calendar of domestic and National Racing Calendar events as Astellas Oncology before stepping up to the Continental level as Astellas Cycling.

Astellas Pharma, Inc., is a Tokyo-based pharmaceutical company with affiliates in North America, South America, Asia, Europe and Australia. Although it has raced at Tour de Beauce in Canada and An Post Ras in Ireland, the team focuses on US national calendar road races and criteriums.

The team has a 16-rider roster for 2016 and added powerful Slovenian sprinter Aldo Ilesic, who rode for UnitedHealthcare in 2013 and 2014, to boost its criterium results. Max Jenkins, another former UHC rider, came on board last season, and the team added former SmartStop rider Travis Livermon this year.

Director: Andrew Frey
2016 Roster: Ryan Aitcheson (Can), Ansel Dicky (USA), Brandon Feehery (USA), Jonathan Freter (USA), Dan Gardner (GBr), Matthew Green (GBr), Aldo Ino Ilesic (Slo), Max Jenkins (USA), Ian Keough (USA), Travis Livermon (USA), Eamon Lucas (USA), Oliver Moors (GBr), Clay Murphet (Aus), Jake Silverberg (USA), Jacob Sitler (USA), David Williams (USA)

Axeon Hagens Berman

The development program run by Axel Merckx started in 2009 as Trek-Livestrong, a feeder program for the RadioShack WorldTour team. But when the U23 team was prevented from racing the 2011 Tour of Utah because of rules that bar two teams that are run by the same management group from competing in the same race, the team switched to Bontrager Cycling for 2012.

The program raced as Bontrager, a Trek subsidiary, in 2013 as well, and when Trek bought the RadioShack team’s WorldTour licence for the 2014 season, Merckx shopped around for a new title sponsor and landed Bissell. The team became Axeon Cycling for 2015, and then added Hagens Berman, California Giant and Specialized as sponsors for this season.

The new sponsors allowed Merckx to expand his program, which has 16 riders this year but has maintained its mission of U23 development. Half of the team is currently racing in Europe, while another squad competed at the recent Redlands Bicycle Classic, where Nielson Powless finished second overall.

The team was in a bit of a rebuilding phase last year, but this year returns Tao Geoghegan Hart, Logan Owen, Ruben Guerreiro and Gregory Daniel to the head of the class.

The list of notable alumni is long and includes Ben King, Taylor Phinney, Jesse Sergent, Alex Dowsett, Lawson Craddock, George Bennett, Ian Boswell, Nathan Brown, Lawson Craddock, Joe Dombrowski, Carter Jones, Jasper Stuyven, Antoine Duchesne, Clement Chevrier and Ruben Zepuntke.

Director: Jeff Louder
2016 Roster: William Barta (USA), Joanthan Brown (USA), Adrien Costa (USA), Geoffrey Curran (USA), Gregory Daniel (USA), Edward Dunbar (Irl), Tao Geoghegan Hart (GBr), Ruben Guerriero (Por), Colin Joyce (USA), Krists Neilands (Lat), Justin Oien (USA), Logan Owen (USA), Philip O’Donnell (USA), Neilson Powless (USA), Tyler Williams (USA)

Greg Daniel (Axeon Hagens-Berman)

Cylance-Incycle p/b Cannondale

Rising from the bones of the previous Incycle-Predator teams that were registered in Puerto Rico, the Cylance-Incycle team owned by Kem Sports Management will focus on national calendar races, most recently competing at the Redlands Bicycle Classic in California.

The team, which is essentially in its first year, signed experienced Australian criterium specialist Hilton Clarke, who rode at the tip of UnitedHealthcare’s “Blue Train” criterium squad since 2010. Clarke is the reigning overall winner of USA Cycling’s National Criterium Calendar, which has been combined with the NRC this year to form the USA Cycling Pro Road Tour.

Director: Mike Roecklin
2016 Roster: Hilton Clark (Aus), Andrès Miguel Diaz (Col), Orlando Garibay (Mex), Cory Greenburg (USA), Samuel Hunter (USA), Stephen Hyde (USA), Josh Ruiz (USA), Diego Sandoval (Mex), Justin Williams (USA), Cory Williams (USA), Camilo Zambrano (USA)

Elevate Cycling Team p/b Bicycle World

The Texas-based Elevate Cycling Team moved from an elite amateur team to the Continental level this year and will continue to focus on the US national calendar events.

This is the team’s sixth season on the road and its second with Elevate as title sponsor. For 2016 the team brought on two riders with previous Continental experience: Julian Kyer from Team SmartStop and Joseph Schmalz from Hincapie Racing [now Holowesko-Citadel].

Director: John McCallister
2016 Roster: Zach Allison (USA), Heath Blackgrove (NZl), Connor Brown (USA), Alberto Covarrubias (Mex), Logan Hutching (NZl), Colton Jarisch (USA), Julian Kyer (USA), Joseph Schmalz (USA), Mitchell Sides (USA), Mat Stephens (USA), Nicholas Torraca (USA)

Holowesko-Citadel p/b Hincapie Sportswear

The current Holowesko-Citadel team started as a feeder program for the BMC Racing WorldTour squad, then stepped onto the UCI Continental stage in 2012 as the Hincapie Sportswear Development Team when BMC added its own European-based U23 program.

Director Thomas Craven dropped the “development team” label in 2015, reasoning that his riders weren’t “kids,” and he expected them to compete with the best the US domestic racing scene had to offer. The team reacted accordingly, with Toms Skujins, who is riding for Cannondale Pro Cycling this year, taking a stage win at the Tour of California and wearing the overall leader’s jersey for three days.

Prior to Skujins’ romp through California, the team’s biggest result arguably came at the 2014 USA Pro Challenge in Colorado, where Robin Carpenter soloed away from the field on wet, muddy gravel road to take the stage 2 win in Crested Butte.

Other team alumni include Tanner Putt and Ty Magner (UnitedHealthcare), Joey Rosskopf (BMC) and Dion Smith (One Pro Cycling).

Director: Thomas Craven
2016 Roster: Mac Brennan (USA), Miguel Bryon (USA), Oscar Clark (USA), Andzs Flaksis (Lat), Jonathan Hornbeck (USA), Charlie Hough (USA), Andrei Krasilnikau (Blr), Joe Lewis (Aus) Travis McCabe (USA), Brendan Rhim(USA), Rob Squire (USA)

Travis McCabe (Holowesko Citadel) sitting in the bunch

Jelly Belly p/b Maxxis

The California candy company, which has been title sponsor of Danny Van Haute’s Jelly Belly Pro Cycling team since 2000, is US cycling’s longest running sponsor. The team’s iconic bean-splashed kits and bikes are a staple of the domestic scene and continue to ride at the front of the peloton this year.

In 2015, Van Haute signed Australian brothers Lachlan and Angus Morton. Lachlan was coming off three years at the WorldTour with Garmin, where he won a stage at the Tour of Utah and wore the leader’s jersey for two days. Jelly Belly also features another former Garmin rider, Jacob Rathe, who underwent surgery for Iliac Artery Endofibrosis in the offseason and hopes to be back in top form this year.

Notable Jelly Belly alumni include US cyclo-cross champion Jeremy Powers, Kiel Reijnen, Phil Gaimon, Mike Friedman, Carter Jones, Fred Rodriguez, Serghei Tvetcov and Matthew Lloyd.

General manager/director: Danny Van Haute
2016 Roster: Josh Berry (USA), Alexandr Braico (Mol), Jordan Cheyne (Can), Angus Morton (Aus), Lachlan Morton (USA), Christopher Putt (USA), Jacob Rathe (USA), Michael Sheehan (USA), Taylor Sheldon (USA), Ben Wolfe (USA)

Lupus Racing Team

Lupus Racing Team is in its second year on the Continental level after moving up from the amateur ranks last season. The team added significant firepower to its roster this year with the addition of 2013 Vuelta a Espana winner Chris Horner, who joins former BMC Racing rider Chad Beyer as one of the top contenders on the road.

The team had signed former SmartStop rider Jure Kocjan for this season, but then had to fire the Slovenian strongman before the season started when he was provisionally suspended for a positive doping test taken in 2012.

The team bounced back by picking up Horner, who road with with Airgas-Safeway last year.

Lupus Racing is focused on growth, and the team – whose mission is to raise awareness about Lupus, an autoimmune disease that affects nearly 1.5 million people in the US – hopes to move to the next level in the coming years.

The team’s main sponsor is Jamison Capital Partners, a New York-based hedge fund management company run by Stephen Jamison. Team general manager Brendan Sullivan said Jamison is a cycling fan who has committed to “two or three” more years of sponsorship.

Director: Phil Cortes
2016 Roster: Chad Beyer (USA), Oliver Flautt (USA), Chris Horner (USA), Matthieu Jeannes (Fra), Marcos Lazzarotto (Bra), Bryan Lewis (USA), Jonah Meadvancort (USA), Barry Miller (USA), Evan Murphy (USA), Mike Olheiser (USA), Mike Stone (USA), Nolan Tankersley (USA), Nicolae Tanovitchii (Mol), Thomas Vaubourzeix (Fra), David Winston (USA)

Chris Horner (Lupus) cools off after the high temperatures during todays race

Rally Cycling

One of the longest running teams in the US, Rally Cycling started in 2008 as Kelly Benefit Strategies-Medifast. The team signed OptumHealth as the title sponsor in 2012 and then moved to Rally Cycling this year.

Jonas Carney has been director of the team since its inception, adding assistant directors Eric Wohlberg and Pat McCarty along the way.

Rally Cycling prides itself on having an all-North American roster, and over the years the team has launched multiple riders into the WorldTour. Current WorldTour riders Ben King (Cannondale), Chad Haga (Giant-Alpecin), Carter Jones (Giant-Alpecin), Phil Gaimon (Cannondale) and Mike Woods (Cannondale) all rode with the program. This year, the team signed former Team Sky rider Danny Pate.

The team started the 2016 season with a European swing that included La Méditerranéenne, Istarsko Proljece, GP Liberty Seguros and the Volta ao Alentejo. Sprinter Eric Young won the prologue time trial at Istarsko Proljece, and Canadian Will Routley won the final stage at Liberty Seguros.

Tom Zirbel, the 2013 US time trial champion, has called the team home since 2012 but has announced he’ll retire at the end of this year.

Notable alumni include Davis Veilleux, Ben King, Matthew Busche, Ryan Anderson, Mike Creed, Mike Freidman, Chad Haga, Carter Jones, Phil Gaimon and Mike Woods.

Director: Jonas Carney
2016 Roster: Jesse Anthony (USA), Rob Britton (Can), Adam de Vos (Can), Brad Huff (USA), Evan Huffman (USA), Shane Kline (USA), Pierrick Naud (Can), Emerson Oronte (USA), Danny Pate (USA), Will Routley (Can), Bjorn Selander (USA), Thomas Soladay (USA), Curtis White (USA), Eric Young (USA), Tom Zirbel (USA)

Team Illuminate

Team Illuminate raced at the Continental level as Airgas in 2014 and then Airgas-Safeway last year when it pulled off a major coup by signing 2013 Vuelta a Espana champion Chris Horner.

Horner is gone this year and so are any sponsor logos from the team kit, which so far has featured plain black jerseys and shorts. Six of the team’s 12 roster riders for this season are from outside the US, including Colombian Edwin Avila, who recently beat a host of WorldTour riders like Nairo Quintana to take the Colombian national road race title.

The team has a small contingent of Australian track specialists, including sprinter Scott Sunderland and the Scotson brothers, Miles and Callum, who represented Australia on its recent world championship winning team pursuit squad.

General Manager: Chris Johnson
2016 Roster: Tim Aiken (USA), Edwin Avila (Col), Flavio De Luna (Mex), Griffin Easter (USA), Cullen Easter (USA), Connor McCutcheon (USA), Alexander Ray (NZl) Matt Rodrigues (USA), Jason Saltzman (USA), Callum Scotson (Aus), Miles Scotson (Aus), Scott Sunderland (Aus)

Team Jamis

Team Jamis is another longtime feature of the US domestic scene, having started in 2003 as Colavita-Bolla Wines. Jamis took over as title sponsor in 2010 and has been at the helm ever since. Current team general manager Sebastian Alexander, of Argentina, is a former rider who moved into the director position and now runs the squad, which has a decidedly Latin American flavour.

The team switched from focusing on the criterium calendars to a full-on stage racing outfit in 2013, when it signed Hagens Berman as a secondary sponsor and brought in Colombian climbing talent Janier Acevedo and American journeyman Ben Jacques-Maynes. Acevedo won a stage at the Tour of California that year and led the race for three days, confirming the team as one of the top US stage racing outfits.

Acevedo left for Garmin for two seasons but returned to Jamis this year and recently led the Redlands Bicycle Classic until the final day. Hagens Berman moved its sponsorship to Axel Merckx’s development team this year, and Jamis was forced to reduce its roster. The team remains a force in the road races, however, with Acevedo, sprinter Lucas Sebastian Haedo and Eric Marcotte, the 2015 US criterium champion and 2014 US road race champion.

General manager/director: Sebastian Alexandre
2016 Roster: Janier Acevedo (Col), Stephen Bassett (USA), Ruben Companioni (Cub), Lucas Sebastian Haedo (Arg), Stephen Leece (USA), Eric Marcotte (USA), Carson Miller (USA), Kyle Murphy (USA),Luis Amaran (Cub), Brayan Sanchez (Col), Eric Schildge (USA)

Janier Acevedo (Jamis) finished second during stage 4.

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