After a one-year hiatus Team Mountain Khakis-SmartStop has returned to the professional peloton as a UCI Continental squad. In preparation for the 2012 season the squad held a late team camp in Winston Salem, North Carolina. Mountain Khakis' team captain and rider Adam Myerson told Cyclingnews that he expects his riders to already be in shape by the time they arrive.
"By doing that we can focus on equipment, clothes and taking care of administrative stuff," said Myerson.
For the 2012 season the eight riders from last year were re-signed as an indication that they were improving and as Myerson said, "We wanted to keep the band together."
In addition to the normal housekeeping that every team needs to do in the beginning of the season, Myerson believes it's important to instill a code of conduct in the squad.
"We're building a team with a strong set of values," said the team captain. "Watching Moneyball was a suggestion from [team manager] Jaime Bennett who saw it and there was some strong parallels between what we were trying to do as a pro team with a limited budget to compete on a national scale with guys that may not be marquee riders."
In addition to the movie, Myerson spoke to the team about the importance of living by a code of conduct.
"We've done this every year and it helps these guys to become not only better bike racers, but better young men."
With the exception of 40-year old Myerson, Jon Hamblen and Neil Bezdek the remaining riders are under 25-years of age.
"We want them to be upstanding young men," said Myerson. "We want them to know that for [team owner] Pat Raines, Jaime Bennett and myself that this team is an extension of our personal values."
These personal values include an all inclusive team atmosphere and not "a rolling locker room."
As such there is zero tolerance for what Myerson calls passive aggression with words or actions that might offend or intimidate other riders.
"We don't want any junior high mentality on the team."
Not to say that the drives in the team van will be quiet, boring trips, Myerson likes humor but wants it to be inclusive and not alienate others.
As a team with a limited budget and a roster of guys suited for criteriums Team Mountain Khakis-SmartStop isn't looking for an invitation to the Amgen Tour of California. Instead they will continue to travel the around the country for the USA CRITS Series and USA Cycling's new National Criterium Calendar, which is a huge focus.
"We're chasing that (National Criterium Calendar) one-hundred percent."
With continuing their successes in mind – Mountain Khakis has won four consecutive overall team victories in the USA CRITS Series in addition to three individual rider titles – Myerson describes the team's strategy.
"We don't always come out and smash the races. We come out and let other riders smash each other," said Myerson. "We observe, participate, but make sure it doesn't get away from us. We look for opportunities."
With the 2012 season underway Myerson says that this year's squad is one year stronger and better.
"This year we're going to be a lot more aggressive than passive. You'll see us a lot more on the attack than in the past."
Team Mountain Khakis-SmartStop 2012 roster: Neil Bezdek (USA), Thomas Brown (USA), Jonathan Hamblen (USA), Luke Keough (USA), Shane Kline (USA), Travis Livermon (USA), Chris Monteleone (USA), Clay Murfet (Aus), Adam Myerson (USA), Jerome Townsend (USA), Benjamin Zawacki (USA)