The Jelly Belly p/b Kenda team announced today that Fred Rodriguez has joined the US Continental pro squad for the remainder of the 2013 season. The 39-year-old Rodriguez, a three-time US professional road champion and Giro d'Italia stage winner, has spent the past several seasons racing domestically in the US following nine years, 1999-2007, in the European peloton.
Rodriguez raced for the now defunct Exergy team in 2012 and showed well at major US races like the Amgen Tour of California and Colorado's USA Pro Challenge, notching several top 10-stage placings. He has competed thus far this season for the California-based elite amateur Predator Carbon Repair team.
"After dialogue with several teams, I decided Jelly Belly was a good fit," Rodriguez said in a press release. "There are a lot of things this team does both on and off the bike that makes sense for me at this stage of my career. The team has been a staple of American racing for more than a decade and I admire that stability. Plus, Jelly Belly Candy Company is a great company with great values to support."
Rodriguez said he's been rejuvenated in recent years after racing his early career primarily in Europe. He said he hopes to show well in major North American races, beginning with the USA Cycling Professional Road National Championship on May 27 in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
"We're more than excited to obtain Fred Rodriguez and have him part of the team for the remainder of the season," said team General Manager and Director Danny Van Haute. "Fred's experience and leadership will be a huge asset, not to mention he's a great bike rider who will no doubt garner great results."
Nicknamed "Fast Freddie", Rodriguez's professional career spans more than 15 years. His career highlights include three U.S. professional road race wins (2000, 2001, and 2004) plus stage wins in major European stage races: Giro d'Italia (2004), Tour de Suisse (2000) and Tour de Luxembourg (2001). He has won sprint points jerseys at the Tour de Suisse (2000) and twice in the Tour de Georgia (2003, 2006).
Rodriguez has finished on the podium at both Milano-San Remo and Gent-Wevelgem plus was the long-time lead-out man for Australian sprinter Robbie McEwen.