By Kirsten Robbins
Laura Van Gilder is pleased to bring her seasoned experience to Team Juice Plus in 2009. The Poconos Mountain native rode for the Cheerwine Women's Professional team in 2007 and 2008. However, when the team dismantled, dead end negotiations with alternative teams left the sprinter in suspense as to which banner she would compete under next year.
She has more than 300 career victories under her belt racing for professional teams Trek, Saturn and Lipton and she hopes to bring ample success to the young team from San Marcos, California. "I'm really happy with Juice Plus," Van Gilder said. "I want to race my bike and whatever program I'm with I want to help them grow. I do my best. I'm happy with the racing schedule that Juice Plus is organizing. The races they are offering are exactly what I was looking for."
According to Van Gilder, finding a new team after Cheerwine folded was not an easy task this Fall, given the tough economic times that much of the cycling world is experiencing. "I had no other offers this year," Van Gilder said. "It's very sad and disappointing. I was asking teams to make me an offer because I understand the economy isn't great right now, but nothing came up."
Despite financial hardships, signing a top-notch rider like Van Gilder means that team owner, Bill Short will be taking the squad to the next level. The squad will step up to compete in the majority of events on the North American Race Calendar (NRC). They will also participate in the MS150 events across the United States to help raise money for Multiple Sclerosis, discussing the benefits of healthy living through Juice Plus nutritional supplements.
"Obviously signing a rider like Laura Van Gilder to any team is sure to help that team step it up a notch or two," Short said. "With Juice Plus having a successful 2008 season, I wanted to do something that would help us achieve our goal to grow as a team and win more races. When I found out Laura was still without a team for 2009 I was on the phone with her in minutes. The team is now built around Laura with some very experienced riders and some up and coming riders. She brings such a wealth of knowledge and experience to the team that will be invaluable to help us win races, promote our sponsors and help the sport of women's cycling grow."
Van Gilder is prominently known for her winning 250 meter kick. However, much of her success can be attributed to sustained efforts in lengthy breakaways and tactical smarts from 13 years of race experience for some of the most well-known teams in the nation. "I think that Laura is one of the most talented riders that I have seen in 24 years of racing and I am very excited to have her be a part of our program," Short continued. "I look forward to a great season with her and the whole team."
A complete Team Juice Plus roster and a full list of sponsors will be finalized and announced soon.