The Bissell Pro Cycling Team welcomed its new recruits at a week-long training camp held in its hometown of Santa Rosa, California.
Among the new recruits are sprinters Kyle Wamsley and Daniel Holloway, who hope to bring their new squad the winning sprint it lacked in years passed.
Holloway is a former elite US national criterium champion who raced for the Garmin-Slipstream U23 program. Wamsley joins the team having previously competed for Navigators Insurance in 2008, and played an integral role in bringing Colavita-Sutter Home into its leading national ranking in 2009. His performances did not go unnoticed by Bissell’s Directeur Sportif, Glen Mitchell, who gave Wamsley a leading sprint role for the 2010 season.
“I think we make one of the strongest teams in the country last year a more complete team,” Wamsley told Cyclingnews. “Last year they were lacking in sprinting. We have a lot more of finishing speed needed to take some stage wins and single day races. I feel like we are key components for rounding out the team this year.”
“I’ve never been the sprinter for the entire season,” Wamsley said. “It’s a tall order to live up to but it’s also really good motivation to know that you’re the guy they are depending on and that motivates me to do everything right. I’m really excited to have this position, that’s why I’m in the sport. I want to put Bissell on the top as many times as I can this year.”
Wamsley revealed the importance of racing well against the other sprint teams early in the season at races like the Redlands Bicycle Classic held in March in California. The highly ranked and prestigious event is known as one of the toughest on the National Racing Calendar (NRC). Last year, Wamsley won the forth and final stage.
“Our immediate goals are to have a similar performance at Redlands,” Wamsley said. “It’s a hard race and it’s the early season selection of who’s going to be the ones to watch in the NRC calendar. Doing well there creates a pecking order of who lines up behind whom and it will be important to establish that.”
The Bissell roster includes returning riders Ben Jacques-Maynes, Frank Pipp, Andy Jacques-Maynes, Cody O’Reilly, Jeremy Vennell, Paul Mach and Peter Latham along with new riders Wamsley, Holloway, David Williams, Ian Boswell, Rob Britton and Shane Kline.
“We kept a balance of returning riders and we definitely have a new crew of incoming new riders for the team,” said Mitchell. “We are excited about bringing Kyle Wamsley on board and Daniel Holloway who are definitely going to add a little it of speed for us. We have a lot of strong and fast riders but to add these two to finish things off at the end of a race adds excitement that we didn’t have in the past.”
“Frank Pipp is a great captain on the road and we have the strength of both Andy and Ben Jacques-Maynes along with Peter Latham and Jeremy Vennell,” he continued. “But, when you add that experience to try to get both Daniel and Kyle to the finish line, everyone is excited about that new opportunity. We can have that while still keeping the core guys that have proven to get results for us in the past.”
New riders, new bikes and new Tour of California stages
The 13-man roster arrived to the Santa Rosa training camp on Tuesday, February 16. The team management welcomed the riders at a breakfast-style meet-and-greet for the new comers. The first two days were devoted to media, team photos and fitting each rider to new clothing, equipment and the team issued Pinarello Dogma.
“So far the weather has been perfect for us,” Mitchell said. “It can be hit or miss this time of year but we got lucky. The camp is shorter than normal running over six days and it was more about the photos and getting the equipment out and then getting the guys back to their families, were they are happy and can train at home to prepare for the season.”
According to Mitchell, the team had the opportunity to do some long rides venturing out to the Gysers, a notoriously challenging five-hour loop through the mountainous wine country of Sonoma County and contesting the local Grasshopper race. They also took half a day to visit the final leg of the Tour of California’s stage two from Davis to Santa Rosa.
“In the next two days we have two more big rides planned in the area and possibly participating in the local crits in the Bay area on Sunday to conclude the camp,” Mitchell said. “Racing our local criteriums is good for the new guys to get in some fun racing with no pressure. It’s good to see how the bikes handle, do a couple of little lead-outs and sprints in a race situation because it’s hard to practice lead-outs when they are just riding.”
Bissell will kick off its racing season at the OCBC Cycle Singapore Criterium on March 7. Directeur Sportif Eric Wohlberg will lead a team of sprinters to contest the fast growing one-day race.
“That organization is building it up to be a big attraction,” Mitchell said. “They run a big cycling weekend in Singapore with a Gran Fondo and other races that are open to the public. A lot of international teams participate in this event. It is hosted by the tourism board so they have a lot of public events and it is being used as a tourism platform for Singapore and cycling.”
The team will focus 90-percent of its race calendar in North America from March through September. Starting with the Merco Credit Union and the Redlands Bicycle Classic. The team will move on to the Tour of the Gila and the Joe Martin Stage Race to prepare for the Tour of California, pending its invitation. It will then target events like the Philadelphia International Cycling Championships, Tour of Elk Grove, Bend Memorial Cascade Cycling Classic, USPro Criterium Championships,
“Our overall plan is to be able to go to any race and regardless of whether it’s a local race, important for sponsors, UCI or NRC and have a team that can perform,” Mitchell said. “It’s a matter of figuring out what the best strategy of the day is to get the guys on the podium.”