Men's and women's teams to focus on USGP, domestic UCI races
Optum Pro Cycling p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies announced today their roster for the upcoming 2012-2013 cyclo-cross season, the team's first foray into the discipline. National Racing Calendar (NRC) champion Carmen Small, Jade Wilcoxson, and Optum p/b KBS newcomer Amanda Miller will tackle the US circuit for the women and will be joined by Tristan Schouten, Jesse Anthony, Alex Candelario, and Mike Sherer for the men. Performance Manager Eric Wohlberg will direct both teams this fall.
Headlining the team for the men will be Tristan Schouten of Plymouth, WI. Schouten is a regular in the top five on the US Gran Prix of Cyclo-cross (USGP) circuit and has previously represented the US at the world championships. He brings 16 years of experience to the team and has his sights set on a podium at the US national championship this season, taking place for the second consecutive year in Madison, his home state's capitol city.
"We are very pleased to bring Tristan to the Optum p/b KBS family," said Wohlberg. "He clearly has the pedigree to bring home results and will be a fine ambassador for all of our partners at some of America's premier 'cross races."
Unable to resist the pull of a discipline he mastered as a junior, Jesse Anthony will return to the mud for a limited schedule. The two-time U23 USGP champion, seven-time national champion and four-time 'cross Worlds team member made a tough decision last year to focus all of his energy into developing as a road rider, but looks forward to returning to a sport he is still passionate about.
"As of last fall, I limited my cyclo-cross racing in order to focus on the road, but I will always be a 'crosser at heart," said Anthony. "Racing in the dirt is just too much fun to give up forever. I'm extremely pleased that our team has launched a 'cross program, and the opportunity to race the circuit in the orange and black was too good to pass up."
Rounding out the men's team will be Candelario, who has been racing and raising money on the 'cross circuit in recent years under the World Bicycle Relief flag, and Sherer, who is a four-time state champion in Indiana and Illinois.
2012 Nation Racing Calendar (NRC) champion Carmen Small will join 3rd place NRC finisher Jade Wilcoxson and Amanda Miller on the women's team.
Miller, an Iowa native who resides in Fort Collins, CO, brings considerable experience from a cyclo-cross career which began in 2005. A steady progression of Amanda's abilities led to four wins in her last 'cross season in 2010.
"Amanda was an easy choice for us when we began scouting for 'cross," said Wohlberg. "She is a great bike handler on and off the road and she's clearly just going faster and faster as the years pass by."
Small and Wilcoxson, coming off a road season that saw their team amass over thirty wins and the NRC individual and team titles, will race 'cross professionally for the first time in their careers.
"While Carmen and Jade have not raced a lot of cross in the past, there's no question they will be successful," said Wohlberg. "Carmen had a superb road season and Jade was the revelation of women's cycling in North America this year. It seems to me whatever they do, they do it well."
The racing calendar will focus on the USGP series and various UCI races in the US, leading up to the national championships in Madison. With the world championships taking place in Louisville, KY afterwards on February 2-3, 2013, the first time the 'cross Worlds have taken place on US soil, another major goal in the program's first year will be to place riders on the world championship squad.
2012-2013 Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies Cyclo-cross Team: