The 2012 edition of the Vanderkitten-Focus women's team was presented at the chic 359 State Street concept store in Los Altos on a warm Bay Area March evening this weekend. Team manager Jono Coulter and Vanderkitten creator Dave Verrecchia introduced the squad, in it's sixth year of existence, to an enthusiastic crowd.
With racers from five different countries, this truly is an international team though their focus will be on the top US domestic events such as the Redlands Bicycle Classic, Cascade Classic and a hoped-for berth in the new Exergy Tour.
The roster includes returning riders Emily Collins (NZl), Jasmin Hurikino (Aus), Jennifer Reither (USA), Starla Teddergreen (USA), Maura Kinsella (USA) and Vanessa Drigo (Swi). New additions include Kathryn Curi-Mattis (USA), Kate Chilcott (NZl), Ruth Winder (GBr), Courtney Dimpel (USA), Kathleen Billington (USA) and Bridie O'Donnell (Aus).
Coulter commented on the changes for 2012. "It is a bigger squad with way more depth and way more experience. Kathryn Curi-Mattis coming on board is probably one of the biggest things we could do. Bridie O'Donnell who is the two-time Oceania champion and 2009 time trial champion from Australia is good.
"Ruth Winder from California has already won a race here this year. Kathleen Billington, always underrated, was fourth in the US last year at National [road race]. Kate Chilcott has already won races this year as well."
How will Vanderkitten stack up against the high profile teams such as Specialized-lululemon and Exergy 2012? "It's an Olympic year so there will be women from the US racing as hard as possible all over the US. We see us as being the underdogs in every race we enter. I think there are going to be some some opportunities when some of the best women in the world are racing against each other I think we have some new, up and coming riders that can take advantage of some situations."
The season opener for the team will be the San Dimas stage race March 16-18th followed by the Redlands Bicycle Classic March 22-25th.