ZteaM Cycling announced today its entry phase into the US professional circuit, providing Category 1 riders the ability to compete at the national level against some of the nation's top professionals. Added to the roster for 2008 is Dave McCook, the current Points Race National Champion and 1994 National Criterium Champion. McCook will help manage the race team along with veteran rider Christian Kearney.
Also bringing added experience and horsepower to the squad is Uthman Ray IV, Chris Swan, Stephen Dey and one-time Swedish junior national champion Martin Erlandsson. Five of the sqauds riders come from SugarCRM, which recently cancelled funding for its team. ZteaM's current squad includes two newer riders, Nathan English and Justin Laue, who have already been on the podium in some local races.
"Professional cycling is something we have been planning for our club from day one and it is coming a year earlier than planned with the fall out of SugarCRM's funding," said the team's founder, Hunter Ziesing. "We are sorry these boys lost their funding but it is an opportunity for us to experience racing with the Pro's before we launch our full D3 continental team effort in 2009. With six Cat 1 riders we should be able to participate in most of the 50 or so NRC races in the US this year."
ZteaM's race captain, Hans Gouwens, said that additional funding will be needed in 2008, but since the club is a charitable organization that supports cycling, he thinks he can count on sponsors as well as ZteaM members to fund this year's initial Pro development effort. "Last year we brought in cycling legend Eddie Merckx from Belgium who helped raise over $20,000 for the Oak Hill School for autism," said Gouwens. "This year with the help of Bob Roll, we helped raise close to $10,000 for the Nor Cal High School MTB Cycling League and Trips for Kids."
ZteaM has scheduled its winter training camp in Mendocino , CA for late February and will begin racing locally in California in March. If funding allows, the team will enter all of the US NRC races it is eligible for.