Michael Creed will return to the US domestic peloton next year as director of a new U23 development team that will register at the Continental level.
Although he had not yet been authorised to divulge roster specifics or other details while speaking with Cyclingnews on Monday, the former Team SmartStop director confirmed that he will return to the director's seat after having coached the US Paralympic cycling team through the Rio Games in August.
"I'll be running an under-23 Continental team next year called Aevolo," Creed said from his home in Colorado Springs. "We'll have 10 riders. We're sponsored by HIA Bikes, a new bike company. We're going to do a full [USA Cycling Pro Road Tour] stage racing calendar, Tour de Beauce, Grand Prix de Saguenay, then depending on how the results go and the team goes, hopefully get into a race like Tour of Utah or something like that."
News of a new Continental team starting in the US comes at a time when several teams are going away, including Astellas and longtime domestic staple Team Jamis, formerly Colavita. Creed said he was excited to be part of a positive story for US cycling.
"There's not a lot of pro teams starting," Creed said. "I don't know of any new ones besides this one. I'm a little removed from the gossip so maybe there's another one, but as far as I know there's not another Continental team starting. And with the under 23 riders, there's not a lot of options for those guys. They have Axel [Merckx, director of Axeon Hagens Berman], and there's ones that can get picked up by division 3 teams, but those guys usually have a hard time making roster spots. So this will be cool to have a team just dedicated towards that."
Creed said the team currently has nine riders signed and will likely add a 10th rider before the season starts or at some point during the season.
"We just wanted to get that basic crew in," he said. "We've got a rider from Canada, one from Mexico. So some international but mostly US riders. It's a young team. We have five 19-year-olds. It will be really cool."
Something to get behind
The directing job will be Creed's first foray back into the domestic pro peloton since he spent two years with Team SmartStop, guiding the team to a one-two finish at the US pro road race in 2014 with Eric Marcotte and Travis McCabe, and an NRC title with McCabe that same year. The team folded following the 2015 season, with management acknowledging massive budget shortfalls and that riders and staff had not been paid for about half of the season.
"I left pro cycling on very bitter terms, just because of how everything ended, and when they first talked to me about being a part of this team I kind of told them they were wasting their time, you know, that I wasn't going to come back," Creed said. "But just talking to them, they said all the right things about not trying to be the number-one ranked team in the NRC and not trying to be this juggernaut, or whatever. It's more about developing the riders and making them ready to be professionals. That's something authentic and doable, and something I can get behind."
Aevolo will be Creed's first time running a U23 team, something that he doesn't foresee as causing any issues despite the young roster.
"Generally I haven't," he said when asked about working specifically with U23 riders. "But at the same time they're just riders, right? They're just U23 riders. I get it. It's not altogether different. I actually don't expect much in that way. I'm sure they'll have cultural references I don't get and musical choices I don't agree with, but on anything else I'm sure we'll totally get along well."
On a personal level, Creed said he was surprised to be back in pro cycling so soon, but he was quick to add that he really did miss it. He's confident this new program will find itself on firmer footing than his former team did. Aevolo is starting out with good equipment suppliers and good staff, he said, but the new outfit is by no means a “million-dollar budget” team.
"We have our feet on the ground, and that's really the only reason why I agreed to it," he said. "I could tell that they were very calm and calculated with the growth, and they wouldn't get excited by any success we have and immediately start overbuilding it."