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Chris Baldwin (Team juwi solar/First Solar) is back this year and riding strong with a seventh place today.
Domestic all-rounder searches for mid-season pro contract
Former US professional time trial champion Chris Baldwin is on the hunt for a professional contract after being left off the UCI Continental V Australia roster earlier this year.
The Boulder native is currently competing with local outfit Juwi Solar-First Solar but is hoping to find a place on one of the domestic UCI Continental or Pro Continental teams in time to participate in his home-state's UCI 2.1-ranked Quiznos Pro Challenge, scheduled to take place August 22-28.
"I think I deserve a team," Baldwin told Cyclingnews. "I feel fortunate to be a bike racer and to be doing what I love to do. Ideally, I would still like to do the Quiznos Pro Challenge, that's the dream and I don't want to miss out on that.
"I have to find a team and I'm hoping that later in the year there might be an opportunity. This team has a lot of potential and it certainly is something I would like to be a part of in the future, if it happens, but I want to be on a professional team - that is the end game."
Baldwin is a two-time USPro time trial title champion, in 2003 and 2005, and his race resume includes a mixture of podiums and victories in top-level domestic stage races, including the San Dimas Stage Race, Redlands Bicycle Classic, Tour de Toona, Colorado Classic Stage Race, Nature Valley Grand Prix, Tour de Beauce, Cascade Cycling Classic, Joe Martin Stage Race, Tour of the Gila and the Mt. Hood Cycling Classic. Over the years, he has competed with Navigators Insurance, Toyota-United Pro, Rock Racing and UnitedHealthcare.
He was registered to compete with the Australian-based UCI Continental V Australia for the 2011 season. The team is run by Pegasus Sports owner, Chris White, and won the National Racing Calendar (NRC) overall team competition last year. Riders, including Baldwin, were left off the roster at the last moment to make room for those who lost their jobs when White's proposed Pegasus Sports Pro Continental outfit fell through.
"Basically it was just a bad situation and I think that everyone knows the drama," Baldwin said. "Chris White did the best he could to salvage the squad and to make a long story short, someone was going to be left out. I have no ill will whatsoever.
"It was an unfortunate situation but riders like Darren Rolfe and Aaron Kemps, along with [directeur sportif] Henk Vogels, got me on the team to begin with and someone was going to be left out. I don't mind taking one for the team because those are all my good friends."
V Australia team is registered to participate in the NRC opener, the Redlands Bicycle Classic, held from March 31 to April 3 in California. The team of seven riders includes Jonathan Cantwell, Bernie Sulzberger, Christopher Winn, Taylor Sheldon, Sean Sullivan, Johnny Walker and Darren Rolfe.
Baldwin recently competed in the San Dimas Stage Race with the Juwi Solar-First Solar outfit. The Colorado squad is run by Keith Harper and includes Michael Olheiser, Jonathan Baker, Ben Blaugrund, Greg Krause, Nico Toutenhoofd, Jesse Goodrich, Mike Martin, LeRoy Popowski and Kevin Selker.
"This is a really great squad and it is kind of cool to be apart of a green energy company that builds solar power plants," Baldwin said. "This team came together [at the] last minute but they have ambitions to grow the team in the future and they are very into pro cycling because it fits well with clean energy.
"It is a lot of fun riding for this team and it's showing that I love riding," he said. "I told people for years who have had a hard time finding teams or who were in between teams that if you want to be a bike racer then be a bike racer and if you don't want to be a bike racer then don't be a bike racer. If really want to do it then you have to find a way to do it. So, I'm taking my own advice."
Baldwin will next compete at the NRC events Redlands Bicycle Classic next week and the SRAM Tour of the Gila held from April 27 to May 1 in Silver City, New Mexico.
"My plan is to race through the spring with Tour of the Gila being a big target so I am building up to that," said Baldwin. "We threw this team together last minute so we will see what we can do. Ideally, I can move to a team that will be racing at the Quiznos Pro Challenge because it's in my backyard."