Like many teams, Kenda/5 Hour Energy presented by Geargrinder headed to a warmer climate for their pre-season training camp – Tucson, Arizona for eight days of training.
Before camp had even started the Kenda/5 Hour Energy team had already racked up a win with John Murphy in the time trial at the Valley of the Sun stage race. Unfortunately, the next day a car was directed onto the road during the stage and Murphy crashed into the suddenly stopped vehicle. The result was bruises and a broken hand. Murphy's teammate Chad Hartley took revenge with a win in stage 3's criterium.
Another Kenda/5 Hour Energy rider to stand on the top step of the podium is Phil Gaimon. He has already taken two wins this year: the Race for Humanity road race and the following day's criterium.
As expected, dialing in the new equipment and meshing the new riders with the returning ones are goals during the camp. And, of course, putting in the training miles is a big part of the agenda.
"We've been going out for four to five hours. At times we've split the team into groups to do some hard paceline training and some race simulations on a climb," explains director sportif Frankie Andreu. "We'll ride easy, but at three different points during the day we'll actually do some hard stuff for 30 to 40 minutes."
Off the bike, the riders have been getting a different type of training. In this modern day of instant news, Facebook and Twitter posts, the riders have had presentations regarding social media and how best to manage it.
"We've had a couple of professors from the University of Arizona talk about social media," said Andreu.
"One of the biggest questions teams have is how do you balance the personality and originality of the rider with the image of the team?" says Andreu. "No one likes to read boring tweets and we like the fun of it, but we need to keep it decent - that's the balance the team is striving for."
The Kenda/5 Hour Energy squad has some new members for 2012. In addition to Murphy, Andy Jacques-Maynes joins the team from Bissell.
"I'm super excited to get him. He's a really consistent rider, which is a plus for us," said Andreu of Jacques-Maynes. "One of the reasons we brought him on was we needed more horsepower. He's a very good time trialist and descent in the mountains, but he can also do what's needed in the criteriums. Being that versatile appealed to us."
Jacques-Maynes describes how he became part of the Kenda/5 Hour Energy team.
"I was looking to stay with Bissell last year and wanted to stay with them, but they told me I needed to look for something else. It wasn't my choice, but it's not something I'm upset about either – it was time to move on," Jacques-Maynes says philosophically.
"I can't fault them, they didn't have the room to keep the same number of guys and I was on the short end of the stick. It happens in any industry, whether it's a job or bike racing. It happens, but I was lucky to find a ride with Kenda/5 Hour Energy and I'm pretty happy with that."
Andreu remarked how lean Jaques-Maynes looked at camp. The reason for this race-ready look was his participation in a 24-hour mountain bike race in October.
"To finish off last year's season I did the 24-Hours of Moab, solo, on a dare. I won it and that laid me flat on my back for a month, which was perfect as it was my normal off-season break."
After recovering from such a grueling race Jacques-Maynes discovered that he was a couple of steps up aerobically from where he had been before.
"I give credit for that due to the huge effort at the mountain bike race." That effort equaled over 400 kilometers on a mountain bike in a 24-hour span.
Jacques-Maynes calls central California home and his location is ideal training for the upcoming Amgen Tour of California.
"Stage 2 is 100 percent on home roads. I don't need a map – I know every inch of it, so I got that one dialed in. The other stages I've either ridden on training rides or as part of the (Amgen Tour of California) stages. This is a home race for me and I'd be thrilled to race it."
Of course, all domestic teams want to be invited to the Amgen Tour of California, a race whose stature on the international calendar has grown significantly. Kenda/5 Hour Hour Energy is no different.
"We're motivated and want to go, but we still don't know what's going on yet," says Andreu. "We're going to continue to prepare for the season, which includes the Amgen Tour of California and try to win some bike races early on."
John Murphy is returning to a domestic based team after two-years with BMC. The broken hand was only a temporary set-back for the former US pro criterium champion. He had been out on the bike wearing a cast with an extra wrapping of handlebar tape around the bars for the first days of camp. Fortunately the cast has since been removed.
"That's a big get for us too because of his sprinting ability," explains Andreu. "Also his leadership abilities will play a big part of that too."
The team will officially kick off their season at the Old Pueblo stage race in Arizona and then continue west for the San Dimas stage race and the Redlands Classic, both in California.