While most of the cycling world's attention is turned toward France and the second Grand Tour of the season, Team Type 1-Sanofi has quietly been stacking up results at two UCI 2.HC races on nearly opposite ends of the globe, and the hard work appears to have paid off with an invitation to the USA Pro Cycling Challenge in Colorado at the end of August.
A spokesman confirmed Sunday evening that on the same day Team Type 1-Sanofi's David Colli won the final stage at the Tour of Austria, the second-year UCI Pro Continental squad also received an invitation to the Colorado race.
The recent success is a welcome burst of good news for a team that got off to a rough start this season when it was the only U.S. Pro Continental team not to receive a coveted invitation to the Tour of California. The bad news from America also hit the team about the same time a wayward moose wandered in front of the team bus in Norway, resulting in a smashed front end for the vehicle and messy ending for the moose.
"Our bus is like 15 meters long, and it's hard to stop that machine," Team Type 1-Sanofi General Manager Vassili Davidenko told Cyclingnews as he drove from Vienna to Golebiewski Karpacz for the start of the Tour of Poland on Tuesday. "The front-end was totally smashed. It was, of course, a bad moment, but it's in the past. And again the supportive crew reacted quickly and we were back in the peloton with what we needed."
The bus was back on the road within a week, and the human element of team Type 1-Sanofi jumped back just as quickly from the California let down and almost immediately started piling up results, most recently wrapping up the Tour of Austria with both the mountain and sprint jerseys in hand along with two stage wins. Another squad in China has been simultaneously fighting at the Tour of Qinghai Lake for more jerseys, stage wins and the GC.
But the first shots came at the TD Bank Philadelphia Classic in early June when the team finished first, second and fourth with Aleksandr Serebryakov, Aldo Ino Ilesic and Colli. Only veteran sprinter Feddie Rodriguez (Team Exergy) was able to break the team's stranglehold on the end of the race. American Kiel Reijnen earned the KOM jersey in Philadelphia and hit the podium at U.S. road nationals a few weeks later. Vegard Stake Laengen followed up the Philly success by winning the Quebec City circuit stage at Tour de Beauce, a UCI 2.2 race, and then the team split up to head for Austria and China.
Alessandro Bazzana struck first in Austria with a sprint win on the first of eight stages, taking yellow for a day and then finishing out the race in the sprint jersey. Georg Preidler, who also won the mountains classification earlier in the season at the Tour du Haut Var and Ronde van Drenthe, took the KOM crown in Austria as well. And Colli capped it all off with his his win on the final day.
The squad at China's Tour of Qinghai Lake has found equal measures of success, placing Reinjen in the GC hunt and carving out at least one more stage win. Reijnen's three consecutive second-place finishes lifted him into 10th overall, 1:15 off the race lead, while Ilesic added to the team's string of success by winning a bunch sprint at the end of stage 7. The 13-stage race continues through July 12, providing Reijnen several more opportunities to improve his GC spot as the rest of the team battles for him and for stage wins.
The team's ability to persevere through early setbacks and eventually find success comes as no surprise to Davidenko, who said it was just a matter of having the right pieces in place and waiting for it all to come together.
"I always believed in the team and in the teamwork," Davidenko said. "Every person on the team is super important. When you have the right guys on board and they do their jobs properly, things get way, way easier and it brings you to success. You just need to work hard and wait for your time."
The team will send six fresh new riders to reinforce Laszlo Bodrogi and Jurie Cocjan at the Tour of Poland and will then turn its attention toward the USA Pro Cycling Challenge Aug. 20-26. After missing out on the California tour, the opportunity to race in one of the biggest events in the U.S. will give riders a chance to race against top-level competition on their sponsors' home soil, as well as helping spread the team's message about diabetes education to another target audience.
"The USA Pro Cycling Challenge is a great American stage race," a team spokesman said via email. "Team Type 1-Sanofi is proud of its achievements and success on the bike this season and grateful to the organizers for the opportunity to race in Colorado this August."
After Colorado the team will send a squad back to Asia for the Tour of China in September, while the rest of the team's riders compete in France and Italy. The squad's season won't end until mid-November, Davidenko said.