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Under 23 team combines Europe and domestic racing
Trek-Livestrong will be well-prepared to contest a combination of domestic events, including the NRC Redlands Bicycle Classic, and international events following a weeklong training camp held in Solvang, California. The 14-rider squad took advantage of the spring-like weather for long rides through the Santa Ynez Mountains and Valleys.
"We can do a little bit of everything from Figueroa Mountain to the valley roads so we really had a lot of climbing and a lot of flats," said Team Director Axel Merckx. "We only had one day of rain and weather-wise; it made for a very good training camp. We averaged about four hours per day of riding."
"The main purpose of camp was to get ready for our team that will race at Redlands Bicycle Classic and for the riders that will be going to Europe with the US National Team for the April campaign over there," he said. "We really wanted to use the camp as a kick-off to get ready for the new season."
This year's roster underwent several changes as older riders such as Alex Dowsett, Jesse Sergent and Taylor Phinney received contracts from ProTeams. The team has three returning riders, Gavin Mannion, Nathan Brown and Charlie Avis and 10 new recruits, Ian Boswell, Lawson Craddock, Dale Parker, Ryan Eastman, Joe Dombrowski, Robin Eckmann, Carter Jones, Michael Vink, Josh Atkins, Joe Lewis and George Bennett.
"Things went really well at camp," Merckx said. "The main part of the day was used for training, they had rubs in the afternoon and at night we always had a bit of a meeting about our sponsors, training, nutrition, how to get ready for the season and gave them the guidelines for the season."
"It was the first time and probably the last time that the whole team will be together," he said. "I think it was really good team spirit and they all got along really well. The guys have great mentalities and also a lot of work ethic and they are wanting to do well this year."
Riders from Trek-Livestrong that have joined the US Under 23 National Team for a two-month campaign in Europe are Craddock, Mannion, Brown, Boswell, Eastman and Jones. They will race at Triptique Mont et Chateau, Circuit des Ardennes, Tour of Flanders, Cote Picardie, Liege-Bastogne-Liege and ZLM Tour. The remaining riders will contest the first National Racing Calendar (NRC) stage races at the Redlands Bicycle Classic and the SRAM Tour of the Gila in April.
Trek-Livestrong will travel to Europe from May through June to contest the Under 23 Paris-Roubaix in France and the Circuito Montanes in Spain. The team will return for the US National Championships, Cascade Cycling Classic, Tour of Utah and the Quiznos Pro Challenge, should the team receive an invitation.
"My hope is that the team will be very active in the races and for the guys to get in breaks and go for it once in a while to get some results," Merckx said. "We want to try and see the progression of our riders throughout the season, especially if we end up going to Utah and Quiznos.
"We want to be able to show our riders at their best so that they can hopefully get a professional team contract for the older guys," he said. "We also want to give the experience to the younger guys, one that they can use for the future years. This is a rebuilding year for us because we have lots of young riders. That doesn't mean we don't have expectations for our riders to get results but it is a rebuilding year."