US-based UCI Continental team Kenda p/b Geargrinder kicked off its season at a training camp held in the warm and sunny south-east climate of Clermont, Florida. Ben Day, the team's newest addition, led a 17-man roster through some 600 miles of training during the nine-day camp that concluded on Sunday.
"The camp was to unite the roster and to get the guys to bond a little bit," said the team's general manager, Chad Thompson. "We wanted to see where our weaker areas and our stronger areas were so that we could work on those before our big start at the Amgen Tour of California.
"We also distributed equipment and got the guys fitted on their bikes," he continued. "We had lots of team bonding; every night was a team dinner and every morning we had a team breakfast. The camp was way more organised then we thought it would be and we were really pleased with it."
Thompson and directeur sportif Frankie Andreu originally planned to bring the team to Dahlonega in Georgia or Greenville in North Carolina. However, they decided against taking the riders where weather can be unpredictable in late winter, and instead opted to go south to the Sunshine State.
"We were running away from the snow," Thompson said. "No matter where we chose the forecast was looking horrible because of this really cold winter that we've been having. Camp is not about being in the cold.
"The guys are supposed to be able to get out and ride their bikes and get some miles in. Clermont was not hilly but it was rolling so the guys got a little bit of climbing efforts in, in particularly on a climb called Sugar Loaf Mountain Road. They spent a lot of time on the bike."
The Kenda p/b Geargrinder roster includes Day, Isaac Howe, Roman Kilun, Bobby Sweeting, Shawn Milne, Chad Hartley, Chris Monteleone, Geoff Godsey, Jake Rytlewski, Jim Stemper, Jonny Sundt, Luca Damiani, Pat Lemieux, Phil Gaimon, Rob White, Scottie Weiss, Spencer Gaddy and Gregg Brandt.
"I didn't really know the riders that well before I came to camp but it has been a great week and I've met a lot of great personalities," said Day. "There are some very dedicated and motivated cyclists on this team. It has been a really great week with a mix of training and team building activities.
"It's been a really positive week for the team and the momentum has grown all the way into camp. I think there will be more and more good news as the season goes on."
Kenda p/b Geargrinder recently received its first-ever invitation to compete in the Amgen Tour of California. Just one week later, Thompson secured a place for Day, who was left without a team after Pegasus Sports plans abruptly folded. The team is also set to announce a new co-title sponsor later this week.
"What a grouping of three weeks, it was incredible," Thompson said. "Everyone was preparing for the team to take a little step forward but we ended up making a huge jump forward. None of us were expecting to take this massive leap from a mid-ranked Continental team to what we think is one of the best teams in the US."
The main focus of the season will be contesting the Amgen Tour of California, Tour de Beauce, Tour of Utah and the Quiznos Pro Challenge along with a possible start at the Herald Sun Tour.