Rally Cycling will try a mix of old and new next year, with 11 returning riders joining five newcomers to form the team's first Pro Continental roster in 2018. The longtime US Continental team lost emerging climbing talent Sepp Kuss to LottoNL-Jumbo in the off-season, but 2017 team leaders Rob Britton and Evan Huffman are returning with multi-year contracts.
The team announced five new riders earlier this year, including Robin Carpenter and Ty Magner from Holowesko-Citadel, Kyle Murphy from Cylance, Nigel Ellsay from Silber Pro Cycling and Ryan Anderson from French Pro Continental team Direct Energie. Anderson, a 30-year-old Canadian, raced for Rally previously in 2009 and 2010 when the team was sponsored by Kelly Benefit Strategies, and then again from 2013 to 2015 under the Optum banner.
Returning from 2017 along with Huffman and Britton are Jesse Anthony, Matteo Dal-Cin, Adam de Vos, Brad Huff, Colin Joyce, Brandon McNulty, Emerson Oronte, Danny Pate and Eric Young.
Tom Soladay retired after seven seasons with Rally and now works in the team's home office, while Shane Kline, Pierrick Naud and Curtis White did not renew after several years with the team.
Rally Cycling achieved what was arguably the best season to date in 2017, notching 58 wins and 107 podiums across North America and Europe. Huffman, the Tour of the Gila winner, took two high-profile stage wins at the WorldTour Amgen Tour of California and finished his season with an overall win at the Tour of Alberta. Britton won the Tour of Utah on the way to the team's overall wins in the UCI America Tour and the USA Cycling Pro Road Tour.
"Success doesn't simply come from picking the right riders," Performance Director Jonas Carney said in a statement released by the team. "It's more important to provide your riders a positive environment where they can thrive. Maintaining the athletes who make up the backbone of that culture ensures that we will continue to be successful because new recruits almost always excel in our program."
At 39, Pate will be the senior rider on team and continue his role as road captain, helping to guide younger talent like Dal-Cin, the current Canadian road race champion and Tour of the Gila stage winner; De Vos, recent victor in Austria's International Raiffeisen Grand Prix; and McNulty, the former junior time trial world champion who broke his pelvis last year but returned in time to take silver in the U23 time trial in Bergen.
"The highlights of the year for me was the team winning the Tour of Utah and Tour of Alberta," Pate said in a team announcement. "Individuals had great performances to take the lead in those races, but it was the well-executed and selfless teamwork in the defense of those leads that impressed me the most. I think the biggest area the team has improved in is controlling race situations to favor the team."
Young, a two-time US pro criterium champion, will lead the way for the sprinters with an assist from two-time US pro criterium champion Huff. Magner, who won the chaotic opening sprint at the Tour of Utah this year, will be a formidable addition to the team's finishing prowess. Joyce also has a fast finish, taking third last year on stage 2 at the Volta ao Alentejo, among other podium results. Oronte was second on the Oak Glen summit finish and third overall at the Redlands Bicycle Classic this year, and Jesse Anthony, a former Tour of Utah stage winner, will be lining up for his ninth season with the team.
Pate, who spent eight years on the WorldTour with Garmin, HTC and Team Sky before returning to the US in 2016, is embracing the team's jump to cycling's second division. Carney said previously the team will race an expanded European calendar next year, and Pate knows his way around many of those roads.
"I'm excited about the team moving up a level," Pate said. "All of the riders are hungry for bigger and better things. The Pro Continental division will give the whole team more opportunities on a bigger racing stage."
The riders and staff are currently in Winter Park, Colorado, for the team's annual winter camp, with off-the-bike activities that include snowshoeing, skiing, fat biking and paintball. A second training camp will take place in Southern California in January.
Rally Cycling 2018 roster: Ryan Anderson, Jesse Anthony, Rob Britton, Robin Carpenter, Matteo Dal-Cin, Adam de Vos, Nigel Ellsay, Charles Bradley Huff, Evan Huffman, Colin Joyce, Ty Magner, Brandon McNulty, Kyle Murphy, Emerson Oronte, Danny Pate, Eric Young.