Under the sweeping backdrop of sublime Tucson mountains and thick forests of Saguaro cacti, the Competitive Cyclist Pro Racing Team spent last week getting comfortable with their new equipment, management and fellow teammates as part of their official training camp.
Directeur Sportif Gord Fraser said he’s treating the upcoming 2012 season as a continuation of an already great thing. After a successful first season as RealCyclist.com, Cycling supplier Competitive Cyclist has merged with the team, allowing them to revamp their entire sponsor line.
"We got the ball rolling with On The Rivet management, getting the structure in place to execute the management of running a pro team, so I’d say about 95 per cent of our infrastructure is in place," he said during their week-long training camp on February 11-17. "We definitely want to keep this thing growing going on into next year."
According to Fraser, expanding their race schedule is one of the main changes from last year, while still placing high expectations on the NRC calendar and domestic grand tours. He considers seasoned professionals Cesar Grajales and five-time top 10 Tour de France finisher and last year’s NRC Francisco 'Paco' Mancebo to be their "go-to guys", gunning for the prestigious US stage races such as the Tour of California and Tour of Utah.
"We have three or four guys, like Paco [Mancebo], Cesar [Grajales], Chad [Beyer] and Max [Jenkins] that can finish top 20 in any big race like California and I don’t think any other team can come close to that. We have it on paper, but now it’s just a matter of going out and doing it, which is a different story."
Developing the younger talent on the team is also a priority. Riders like former BMC stagiaire Cole House and Ian Burnett have shown the motivation to step up to the next level, and Fraser said the team management is ready to take them there.
“I’d say 75 percent of our roster isn’t even close to their potential, so it’s up to us to give them a race schedule, advice, the tools they need to get to their potential a little quicker. We have so many riders that are in the infancy of their development as an athlete.”
But just as important are the racers in their twilight of their career, like 36-year-old Mike Olheiser,who still possesses what Fraser dubs a “new engine.” And he’s excited to see what the 2011 UCI Masters TT World Champion can do with it this year.
The Competitive Cyclist camp concluded on February 17 with a team presentation on the rooftop of Tucson’s new Playground Bar & Lounge, an event that benefited local youth cycling organization, El Grupo.
Competitive Cyclist Pro Racing Team full roster:
Francisco “Paco” Mancebo, Cesar Grajales, Cole House, Tommy Nankervis, Thomas Rabou, Ian Burnett, Chad Beyer, Phil Grenfell, Max Jenkins, Nate King, Mike Olheiser, Taylor Shelden, and David Williams.
Check out the gallery of the week long camp here.