Kelly Benefit Strategies' Alex Candelario is revisiting his cyclo-cross roots this fall after a decade away from the off-road side of the sport. The talented road sprinter recently placed fifth at the UCI C2 Colorado Cross Classic racing under the World Bicycle Relief banner and will support the non-profit organisation through to the USA Cycling Cyclo-cross National Championships held in December in Bend, Oregon.
"I had the opportunity to help build this program with World Bicycle Relief and promote them," Candelario told Cyclingnews. "Coming back to race cyclo-cross has been in the back of my mind for a long time. I'm just having some fun and the road is still my priority.
"I had no idea that I would be able to get top five last weekend and I'm stoked about that. If this spreads the message about World Bicycle Relief then that is amazing."
The World Bicycle Relief was founded by SRAM Corporation and Trek Bicycles in 2005. It provides large-scale bicycle programs to poverty relief and disaster recovery initiatives. The organisation reached out to the Clinton Foundation HIV/AIDS initiative along with projects in Zambia, Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe.
"Kelly Benefit Strategies, my team, has been partners with World Bicycle Relief for a few years now and we raised about $75,000 in the effort last year," said Candelario. "Four of us went to Zambia and got to see the whole program in effect and we went along every day to see how effective bicycles are in people's lives over there.
"It really changed my life in how I view bikes and racing. We are so privileged over here and I felt like this was a good time to try and give back through cyclo-cross. It was last minute but everyone stepped up big time to make it all happen."
Candelario’s list of road results include a recent second place at the USA Cycling Professional Road Championships. In the not too distant past, he captured a podium at the International Cycling Classic Superweek, Nature Valley Grand Prix, US Air Force Cycling Classic, Joe Martin Stage Race, Tour of the Gila and the CSC Invitational. He has also won stages of the Redlands Bicycle Classic, Cascade Cycling Classic and the Tour de Nez.
"I haven't raced 'cross in about 10 years," Candelario added. "I was a decent rider, top five at the national events and won a couple of collegiate championships. I discovered surfing and got obsessed with that in the off season instead.
"I'm kind of at the end of my career and have always loved 'cross so I wanted to take the opportunity to race at a high level while I still can. Mostly, I'm stoked to be able to help World Bicycle Relief."