The men of the Jelly Belly presented by Kenda team stood and saluted a Navy SEAL command at the Coronado base located on the southern California Pacific seaboard last week. The objective was to bring the riders together in the popular form of team bonding traditionally used by CSC, now Saxo Bank.
“Team building is the in thing now at the training camps because it goes straight from the camp and on to the bike,” Van Haute said.
The SEALs organised challenging relay events that involved carrying heavy cinder blocks along the beach and relying on teammates to carry the other to safety. The motto: No one left behind. The punishment: Taking a dip in the freezing waters of the Pacific Ocean.
“They put us through the ringer for about three hours on the beach,” Van Haute said. “The guys had to pay attention to what the SEALs are talking about when they were talking to you; it’s very real military.
“We did team exercise is the cold water and had to make sure everyone came out and that we didn’t leave anyone in there,” he added. “It was interesting, very good and it was all team oriented stuff that they made us do. There was a lot of discipline involved.”
Training days were few but resembled the old school-style regimen that involved long hours in the saddle. “We did three or four long rides,” Van Haute said. “The theme for the camp this year was slow, long distance training. The rides extended for a couple of hours more than what they had planned and everyone got to talk to each other.”
The team has had its medium term future assured after candy company Jelly Belly renewed its title sponsorship agreement through to 2012. Directeur sportif Danny van Haute praised the team’s revamped roster after its first training camp for the year held in San Marco, California.
“I have seven new riders, which is a plus because you are always searching for the best type of rider for your team on and off the bike,” Van Haute said. “I finally think that after 11 years this is the best choice we have made. The quality of the riders for this year is much better than what we have had. Mike Friedman: that’s a name that everyone would like to have.”
Jelly Belly-Kenda brought back six of its riders from last year, including: Brad Huff, Bernard van Ulden, Jeremy Powers, Kiel Reijnen and Will Routley. The squad recruited Friedman, who brings valuable ProTour experience to the Continental domestic team having raced with Garmin-Slipstream previously. New riders include Anthony Colby, Jonathan Chodroff, Carter Jones, Jacob Rathe, Sean Mazich and Will Dickeson.
“Mike did well at the team camp,” Van Haute said. “He liked everything and he knows that he is here as the team leader. He took that role that I gave him and adapted to it right away. He was very vocal in the meetings. But we also have a great new climber in Anthony Colby and a strong time trialist in Jonathan Chodroff.”
The Jelly Belly-Kenda Pro Cycling Team will focus on US-based events Redlands Bicycle Classic, Tour of California, Philadelphia International Cycling Championships and the USPro Championships on the road, time trial and criterium. It will also continue its overseas endeavors at the Tour of Thailand, Tour de Korea, Tour of Taiwan, Qinghai Lakes Stage Race and the Tour of Hainan.
“We see racing in Asia as a good opportunity for the team to get fit and stay fit for other races in the USA,” said Stephanie Scott, Jelly Belly Event Marketing Manager. “They happen to fall at a time where they do not conflict with important events on the US calendar.”
Most of the camp was spent with team sponsors, which include Kenda, Focus Bikes, SRAM, Speedplay and Lexus among others. “First of all when you have the sponsors come in to talk to the guys and explain why they are involved with the Jelly Belly presented by Kenda Cycling Team, it’s great,” Van Haute said. “They talk about their product. Usually there are only two or three sponsors that come to the event but this year we had eight sponsors who wanted to talk to the team. That was the one thing that impressed me the most.”