Chris Baldwin has joined team OUCH p/b Maxxis mid-season after a turbulent first six months of 2009 with Rock Racing. Baldwin will compete under his new guise at the Mt. Hood Cycling Classic beginning later today in Oregon.
Rock Racing demoted Baldwin from the men's professional team to its amateur counterpart at the beginning of the season. He was hit with more bad news in April when the team fired him, citing ‘budget cutbacks' as the main reason. He was briefly re-hired but instead decided to accept a counter-offer from OUCH p/b Maxxis' directeur sportif Mike Tamayo for the remainder of the 2009 season.
"I had been talking to Mike Tamayo over the winter after Toyota-United folded and things really just came together nicely now," Baldwin said. "I'm thrilled to have the opportunity to support and work for them. It's an exciting opportunity and a race program that suits me."
Baldwin is placed alongside Rory Sutherland, Pat McCarty and Floyd Landis to reinforce the squad's all-round talent in select stage races. "I think we will complement each other in climbing, time trials to be a multiple threat type of team," he said. "I came to the team to fill a place as an altitude climber and as another threat in the stage races."
Baldwin will not be participating in the upcoming TD Bank International Cycling Championships due to the conflicting Mt. Hood Cycling Classic. His season will also include Cascade Cycling Classic, Tour of Utah and possibly the Tour of Missouri. "The team was already set in place for Philadelphia before I joined," he said. "But, I'm excited to join the team at Mt. Hood. It's a chance to get on the new Kuota bike and ride with the guys."
Baldwin has not competed in Philadelphia's race since 2005 because of event conflicts with races that better match his ability as a stage racer. "It would be special to be there to support that race, especially since they almost had to cancel it this year," said Baldwin who offered his predictions nonetheless.
"I think the pattern of that race has changed a lot since the last time I raced it," he continued. "It's more controlled and predictable now. More guys know how to float that Manyunk climb and figure out tactics by the finish. But if it is a bunch kick than I have to go with my boy Karl Menzies and then Sebastian Haedo."