US-based Continental team Jelly Belly presented by Maxxis have come together for a pre-season training camp in California from February 23 to March 5. The 10-day camp gives the riders an opportunity to get to know one another and put in some longer training rides before their season starts at the San Dimas Stage Race at the end of this month.
The 12-rider team started the camp in the coastal city of Carlsbad where they spent the first four days getting to know their sponsors, taking team photos, receiving media training and hosting an official team presentation. The team then travelled inland to Julian for the bulk of their long rides, which were routed throughout the surrounding area and into Borrego Springs.
"We used the camp for getting to know everybody,” team director Danny van Haute told Cyclingnews. "There are six new riders on the team and we wanted to put in some long miles with some team time trial training."
They are starting their 16th year on the circuit and have put together a young but competitive roster. Fred Rodriguez is the most experienced rider on the team and, at 41 years old, he is the exception when it comes to the team’s younger average age. Sean Mazich, 28, is the second oldest rider on the team but has been with Jelly Belly for the longest stretch of time at seven seasons.
The rest of the riders are between the ages of 23 and 25 with returning riders Steve Fisher, Jonathan Freter, Jacob Rathe and Andrew Sjogren, and new signings Alexandr Braico, Gavin Mannion, Angus and Lachlan Morton, Joshua Berry and Nicolae Tanovitchii.
"This year we have a young but a very experienced team," said Van Haute, who believes that this year’s team is the strongest in their 16-year history.
Jelly Belly's main season objective is to win the USA Cycling National Racing Calendar (NRC) team competition. Last year, the team placed seventh overall in the standings. In addition, their Romanian rider Serghei Tvetcov was ninth in the individual standings after winning two stages and the overall title at the Cascade Cycling Classic, winning a stage at the Tour of the Gila and taking second in a stage at the Redlands Bicycle Classic. He was also third overall at both the USA Pro Challenge and the Tour de Beauce, and went on to sign a two-year deal with Androni Giocattoli.
Jelly Belly will start the season at the upcoming San Dimas Stage Race (March 27-29) before heading into a full April calendar with Redlands Bicycle Classic (April 8-12), USA Cycling Professional Criterium and Team Time Trial National Championships (April 18 and 19), Joe Martin Stage Race (April 23-26) and the Tour of the Gila (April 29-May 3).
They also want to perform well against the top teams in the world at the Tour of California (May 10-17), and pending invitations, Tour of Utah (August 3-9), USA Pro Challenge (August 17-23) and the Tour of Alberta (September 2-7), and end the season with the team time trial at the World Championships on September 20 in Richmond, Virginia.