By Mark Zalewski, North American Editor
With the departure of the Toyota-United team from the cycling stage in North America, its riders are all trying to land on their feet with contracts for 2009. But with the economy dropping and the pro peloton already contracting in size, the options and opportunities are few and far between. But a few of the riders seem to have found a home at Rock Racing, with owner Michael Ball signing sprinter Ivan Dominguez, time trialist Chris Baldwin, former Mexican champ Jose Manuel 'Chepe' Garcia and Aussie Caleb Manion.
"Right now Caleb Manion, Jorge Garcia and Chris Baldwin are coming with me," Dominguez told Cyclingnews. "I was trying to get a few guys to go with me. Michael has guys who can help me but I need some of my own guys too. I've worked with them for three years. And for climbing we have Chris Baldwin now to go with Tyler [Hamilton] and [Oscar] Sevilla."
While Dominguez said he is still finalizing his contract terms with Ball, Baldwin confirmed that he has signed with the team for 2009. Dominguez said the length of his proposed contract is for one year, but that he is more than happy with that in this current contract climate. "It is just a one year contract. If he wants to sign me two years I would sign it, but it's just one year now."
"The situation right now is really bad," said Dominguez about the tight job market in the USA."Teams [are] going from pro to amateur, some teams going under, it's really a bad time to find a team. I am very lucky that Michael is interested in me. I didn't know if I was going to keep racing or not. I really don't know what is going to happen with my other teammates, everyone is looking very desperate. And it's not only here, it's all over."
Toyota-United's manager Sean Tucker released the team's riders from their contracts in late August to find new jobs, and has been unsuccessful in finding a replacement before the deadline to register for the 2009 season.
Stay tuned for a full interview with Ivan Dominguez later this month.