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A look at the school, the races and the future of this unique 'sport'
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Heath Blackgrove is the winner of the 2009 edition of the Tour of Southland.
New Zealand's Heath Blackgrove to lead squad
Team Hotel San José, an elite amateur team based in Austin, Texas, has announced the squad's 2010 roster. The 12-man, multi-national squad consists of seven professional/elite riders and five riders who comprise the team's U23 development program.
Headlining the pro/elite squad is New Zealand's Heath Blackgrove. The 29-year-old is coming off one of his best seasons, highlighted by his victory in the Tour of Southland, a nine-stage, UCI 2.2 event in his native New Zealand. While racing in the United States last season Blackgrove was victorious in the Athens Twilight Criteriium.
Team Hotel San José Executive Director Todd Reed said he will lean on Blackgrove, a ninth-year professional, to be a leader in a number of ways.
"We have built a developmental team around Heath and he will play a pivotal role when they are on the road," Reed said. "Not only does he have the most experience, but he is also a terrific mentor for our younger riders and even the Team Hotel San José club members."
Blackgrove said Team Hotel San José should be competitive in nearly every type of race. The squad has added strength for breakaways and hilly races, and boosted its speed for sprints and criteriums.
"While the extra strength will give us more options, I am very excited to work with the sprinters we have on board and setting them up for the bunch finishes," Blackgrove said. "I really think we're going to surprise a lot of people this year."
Additional strength from New Zealand will provided by Logan Hutchings, racing for the first time in the United States. The 25-year-old won two stages at last year's Tour of Southland and is a former New Zealand U23 road and time trial champion. Colombia's Carlos Vargas, 27, provides additional sprint speed for the team with Aussie Sean Sullivan a key part of the team's lead-out train.
Team owner and manager Barry Lee said the long-term vision for the team is to apply for UCI Continental license status in 2011. In the short-term, the development of juniors and Under-23 racers is a priority and has always been the program's focus.
"This team is a complete package of what cycling can deliver on a number of levels: from grass roots events, to camps and clinics, to club and amateur developmental programs all the way up to the elite/pro level," Lee said. "We like being the underdog team at the larger races - because our guys thrive on winning and being the long-shots."
"We want to make a difference. We have a large club, a large team, and high expectations of them both. They are required to volunteer and work at our events and in the community through camps and clinics, etc."
Team Hotel San José pro/elite roster:
Alex Battle-Woods* (USA)
Zach Bergh* (USA)
Heath Blackgrove (NZl)
Travis Burandt* (USA)
Josh Carter (USA)
Cody Foster* (USA)
Logan Hutchings (NZl)
Stefan Rothe (Ger)
Ronnie Strange (USA)
Sean Sullivan (Aus)
Joseph Tokarski* (USA)
Carlos Vargas (Col)