Rock Racing's Rahsaan Bahati finished off his week at the Interbike trade show by announcing his company, RAHA Sports Management, would launch a new North American International Cycling Union (UCI) squad in 2010. Despite the new venture, Bahati is hopeful his own contract to ride with Michael Ball’s team will be renewed for next season.
“I think it’s likely [I will ride for Rock Racing] if it fits, if the program is going to move in the right direction,” he said. “I was there from the start, you know, I care about the program. With or without me, I wish them success because I have friends over there and cycling does need extra teams; it’s no fun if one goes away. I’m not bitter about anything, I’m not hoping the team fails good, not at all.
“I don’t even know if they’re going to offer me a contract, I assume they are, however I am still under contract,” said Bahati. “They have the right to offer me a contract before anyone else.”
Colorado Premier Training’s Chief Executive Officer Steve Owens was joined by Rick Crawford at the announcement. CPT will play an integral role in the team, working closely to develop the rider’s potential on the bike.
While no riders have been confirmed for the outfit, Owens and Bahati admitted that Australia’s Nathan O’Neill is high on their list. Sponsors, and therefore the outfit’s name, are yet to be announced however the partners have already been secured and negotiations as to which will be the title sponsor are ongoing according to Crawford.
Bahati says the team will focus on USA Cycling National Racing Calendar events in the United States of America during its first year, however didn’t rule out aiming for starts in some of the continent’s biggest races.
“You know, with the budget the team has, there’s a possibility that the riders we can get may be able to get into California,” he said. “You know, it’s all about the show too and I think some people will be surprised by what comes about.
“The list [of riders we’re looking at] is very long,” he added. “Even if we don’t get in to races like California in the first year, I think, with the infrastructure that’s there, the team is going to be very successful. Then we will have people knocking on our door and that will help with races like Missouri and California the following year.”
O’Neill was unable to secure a ride in 2009 after his suspension for taking banned appetite suppressant drug phentermine ended during one of the toughest rider markets in recent years at the end of 2008. Bahati suffered a setback in his own career late last year, with Rock Racing moving him down from the Continental squad to its amateur roster.
Bahati has enjoyed a successful season despite the setbacks, claiming victories at Dana Point GP, Chevron Manhattan Beach Grand Prix, Davis Criterium and San Luis Obispo Criterium.
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