Ken Hanson and Alex Hagman are two of six new riders to join Jelly Belly-Kenda’s 12-man roster for the 2011 season. The United States of America-based Continental team will once again focus on several International Cycling Union (UCI)-sanctioned races in Asia, beginning with the Tour of Thailand.
“I’ve known Danny Van Haute for a couple of years and we’ve talked about my joining the team,” Hanson told Cyclingnews. “This year it worked out and it is certainly something that I am really excited about because they race here in the US as well as some pretty big races in Asia. I know some of the guys on the team and the environment is good. It was a no brainer to sign on with them.”
Hanson is a former Elite USA Criterium Champion who joins the team from Team Type 1. Hagman is a young all-rounder who placed eighth overall at the Tour of Utah while racing for On The Rivet.
Other new signings include Nick Hamilton, Emerson Oronte, Cameron Cogburn, Alistair Loutit. Returning riders include Jeremy Powers, Brad Huff, Bernard Van Ulden, Will Dickeson, Sean Mazich and Sergio Hernandez.
The team recently lost three of its notable riders Mike Friedman (to Kelly Benefit Strategies), Canadian Road Champion Will Routley (to SpiderTech-C10) and Kiel Reijnen (to Team Type 1).
“We lost three of our big stars,” said directeur sportif Danny Van Haute. “Kiel came on with us a few years ago as an Under 23 rider and we had many discussions about getting to the bigger level and racing in Europe and that’s what he is going to do. Routley also wanted to get to the next level and SpiderTech is going to take him there so we are happy with where they went.
“It was a surprise for us that Friedman left but he wants to do more racing in Europe and that is what Kelly Benefits will be doing,” he added. “He wants to try and win some races in Europe. It’s always sad to see riders leave but it’s our goal to get results and move guys up the ladder.”
The team will begin its season at a training camp in February in San Marcos, California. Following the camp the squad will split to compete in the first National Racing Calendar (NRC) event Redlands Bicycle Classic and the Tour of Thailand. It will also compete in the Tour of Korea, Tour of Taiwan, Tour of Qinghai Lake and the Tour of Hainan.
“We will be UCI again next year,” Van Haute said. “We will continue with the same program as we have in the past. We will not strictly follow the NRC but we will focus on getting invitations to the Tour of California, Tour of Utah and Quiznos Pro Challenge. To do those races we need to be well prepared so that is why we go to the Asian races.”
Jelly Belly candy company returns as the team’s title sponsor for the 12th consecutive season and has confirmed its support of the team through 2012.