Kelly Benefit Strategies completed its roster with the announcement of four new riders - Thomas Soladay, Julian Kyer, Colton Barrett and Michael Sherer - who will join the team for the 2011 season. The US-based Continental outfit will have a strong presence in the National Racing Calendar (NRC) along with select European and Asian events.
"We were aggressive with our additions early on because we knew that we were going to have some turnover this year," said directeur sportif Jonas Carney. "Our goal is to build as much depth as we can and have as many guys as possible that can pull off results."
The team signed four new riders last month that include Michael Friedman from Jelly Belly, Michael Creed from Team Type 1, Jason Donald from the former Bahati Pro Cycling squad and US Pro Criterium Champion Daniel Holloway from Bissell.
"One big goal was to make our stage race team stronger," Carney said. "We have a well-rounded team to race any style of race successfully but our biggest improvement should be in difficult climbing and altitude stage races."
Returning riders include Alex Candelario, Andrew Bajadali, Reid Mumford, Jesse Anthony, Marsh Cooper, Dan Bowman and Cheyne Hoag. "We are sticking to our philosophy of keeping the team North American and we wanted to stick to the idea of having a whole bunch of riders that can win races instead of just one guy that can win," Carney said.
Notably absent from the roster was David Veilleux who will step into a full European racing season with the French-based Professional Continental team Europcar next season.
"David was a special rider and a great person to work with for three years," Carney said. "It was difficult to see him go because he thrived in our program and we really benefited from having him on our team. But he wanted to make that step and go to Europe, and we are excited for him."
Kelly Benefit Strategies will begin its season at a snowy meet-and-greet held from January 4-8 in Winter Park, Colorado. Weather permitting, the team will spend ample time getting to know one another in Colorado's typically cold winter climate by participating in activities such as snowshoeing, cross country skiing and snowboarding.
"We did this two years ago and it was probably the best thing that we ever did," Carney said. "We have a lot of guys that are excited about coming out in the cold weather. The majority of our riders are cold climate guys.
"We think its important to do something prior to the training camp which is more about riding and sponsors and not necessarily a good environment for the guys to get to know each other. It's worth getting the team together with all the new guys in a super relaxed environment and fun."
The team will kick off its season at the OCBC Cycle Singapore held in the first week of March. Riders will contest select events overseas but will maintain a strong presence at the National Racing Calendar (NRC).
"Our calendar will be similar to last year with some adjustments," Carney said. "We are going to race in Asia early again, do two European trips next summer and a change is that we will go back to Asia in the September and October to get in a few more stage races in the late season."