US-based UCI Continental team Wonderful Pistachios recently signed two additional riders to its program: Tom Faiers, a former ProTeam rider from Footon-Servetto and Iggy Silva, a notable US criterium racer from Trek-Livestrong. The 10-man roster united at a weekend training camp held from February 25-27 in Santa Rosa, California.
"It is a big deal for our team to sign a rider like Faiers with that kind of European experience from racing the ProTour last year," said team manager Josh Horowitz. "His manager thought that being in the US, where he could really develop his skills and talent, would be beneficial to his long term cycling career."
"We are really lucky to have him on board and when you watch him training you can just tell that this is a guy who knows how to ride his bike," he said. "Silva fits really well into our team dynamic as someone who can do really well at the one day races and criteriums."
The squad's new riders include Faiers and Silva, Sterling Magnell, Neil Coleman, Taylor Bertrand-Barrett, Menso de Jong and Victor Riquelme. Returning riders include Tim Farnham, Alexi Martinez and Eric Bennett. The team met at a short but productive camp in Santa Rosa that included distributing team issued Orbea bikes and other sponsored products, photo opportunities, long training rides and team dinners.
"We stayed with three host families," Horowitz said. "It had a little bit more of a cozy and family atmosphere to the camp. Riders and staff there were 20 people. Half the team lives in Northern California and know a lot of the roads that we rode during the weekend. There was an incredible synergy amongst the riders."
"A big part of the camp was getting images of the team," he added. "We have a lot of people watching us but up until this weekend there wasn't a single image of the riders in the new jerseys. That was one of our main focus was to start creating an image of the team, showcasing the riders and the equipment."
The riders were treated to a long day in the saddle on the final day of camp with a more than 100-mile ride on Santa Rosa resident Levi Leipheimer's notorious King Ridge Gran Fondo route. The team started in Santa Rosa and headed out to the Pacific coast through the Russian River Valley, passed Salt Point State Park and Fort Ross State Historic Park before returning along the scenic Highway 1 and back into Santa Rosa.
"Sunday was about getting a good ride in and letting the guys suffer a little bit together and seeing for the first time how each react to a little bit of pain," Horowitz said. "That route was perfect for what we were looking for because it had climbing, flats, wooded sections, the ocean and vineyards and it covered every aspect of what California is all about."
"That was what I wanted the camp to be about because Wonderful Pistachios is California-based and everything is grown here so I wanted to capture the feel of California where everything is green and fertile."
Wonderful Pistachios will begin racing at the Merco Cycling Classic this weekend followed by the Madera Stage Race, Tour de Murrieta, San Dimas Stage Race and the National Racing Calendar (NRC) Redlands Bicycle Classic.