UCI Continental outfit RealCyclist.com Pro Cycling Team was presented at the upscale Monteluce Winery & Estates in Dahlonega, Georgia this weekend. Directeur sportif Gord Fraser led the team through a season-opening, ten-day training camp that included rides up the area's notorious Brasstown Bald, a decisive finishing ascent at the former Tour de Georgia.
"The guys have done lots of riding this week," Fraser told Cyclingnews. "It's pretty physical riding here and the terrain has given them plenty of intensity. The riding itself is plenty tough. Luckily, it's been cold but dry weather so the guys have been able to ride four-to-six hours everyday. We did a couple of the old Tour de Georgia climbs up Hogpen and Brasstown Bald one of the days."
Riders were gracious guests at the Hiker Hostel that serves the Georgia section of the Appalachian Trail, a 2181-mile scenic mountain hiking trail that extends along the east-coast of the US. During the team presentation, Monteluce Winery provided heavy hor d'oeurves while team sponsors, athletes and Georgia-based cycling fans mingled.
RealCyclist.com's roster is led by Francisco Mancebo, who boasts two overall podium finishes at the Vuelta a Espana and finished in the top-10 of the Tour de France four times. The team also includes Cesar Grajales, Cole House, Thomas Rabou, Frank Travieso, Evan Hyde, Tommy Nankervis, Yosvany Falcon, Mike Midlarsky, Josh Berry, Matt Crane, Ian Burnett and Oscar Clark.
"We have a wide range of riders from proven talent leaders like Mancebo and Cesar," Fraser said. "They will be the captains on the road and we will count on them for some results. Mancebo has a lot of experience and has assumed a leadership role on the team.
"So far he has been a very positive influence on the team. We also have a lot of young talent as well. It is an interesting mix.
"Everyone got to know each other very well at the Hiker Hostel during the last nine days," he continued. "The chemistry seems very good off the bike and on the bike we will have to wait and see what things are like at the races. We are all excited to get the season started."
RealCyclist.com will begin its racing season at San Dimas Stage Race and Redlands Bicycle Classic at the end of March in California. Fraser expressed his disappointment that the team was not invited to the Amgen Tour of California, considering Mancebo won stage one of the 2009 edition and Rabou won the King of the Mountains jersey last year.
"We are a little bit disappointed that we were not selected for the Tour of California because we tried really hard to get into that race," Fraser said. "The boys will definitely show that they belonged at that race and we will use that as motivation to get through the season. Tour of the Gila, Tour of Utah and Quiznos Pro Challenge will be our big objectives of the year."