By Sue George
A new elite team is emerging out of the Athens, Georgia area. Team Wake-n-Bake will feature four racers and serve as an often-overlooked kind of team where those competing in between club and pro team levels can excel. The team's namesake, Wake-n-Bake, is a winter brew for primary sponsor Terrapin Beer. Perhaps appropriately for a bunch of mountain bikers, the beer is an oatmeal stout brewed with Jittery Joe's coffee.
"My goal is to get these riders some exposure," said Team Director Mike Stanley to Cyclingnews. "I'd like to see one of these riders get picked up by a big team."
"[Rider] Nicolas [Dale] pulled me aside and said we need a team. I own a home audio company and started setting money aside," said Stanley, who has sometimes traded home audio work for sponsorship help for his riders.
"I saw a void. There was no one out there having a minor-league like team for mountain biking," said Stanley. "There are the big-name teams and clubs. I went to Interbike and pitched my idea." Support for his team is growing with local and national companies coming onboard - something for which Stanley is quick to express gratitude.
Rebecca Tomaszewski is one of the team's top riders. The winner of the Wilderness 101 and the Cowbell Challenge is well known for her singlespeed rigid-fork riding talent. She finished fifth at the Singlespeed World Championships and will take on many of the NUE series races this coming year.
On the shorter cross country side, Nicolas Dale finished fourth overall in the 2007 National Mountain Bike Series 19-29 year-old category. The 26 year-old semi-pro also took third at the NMBS finals for Expert Men 25-29 in Snowmass, Colorado, in August 2007.
Maria Carrelli has spent two years racing as an expert and is a current and two-time Georgia State singlespeed champion. The 29 year-old is going for three in a row for 2008. Her other top finishes have come in the Six hours of Conyers, the Stump Jump, the Georgia State Cup, and the NMBS round at Sugar Mountain.
39 year-old "Wild Bill" Lanzilotta used to race gravity events with Greg Herbold in the 1990s, but a crash and punctured lung put an end to his racing career for awhile. Now a University of Georgia professor, Wild Bill finished on the podium in the overall category in the Southeastern Series the last three years running and will serve as "Team Captain".
The team will be easy to spot with their orange Niner bikes decked out with green Industry Nine wheels.
Team Wake-n-Bake for 2008: Maria Carelli, Nicolas Dale, William "Wild Bill" Lanzilotta, Rebecca Tomaszewski.