The 5-hour Energy team will not return next season after five years of competing in the US domestic peloton. Team owner Jason Kriel cited loss of the title sponsor as the reason for the team's demise when he confirmed the news earlier this week.
"We had some things that were cooking, but they kind of all fell through," Kriel said of his attempts to replace the energy drink company that has sponsored the team since 2011. "It didn't make any sense for us to try and force something. It's hard enough when you barely have enough money to run a team, to try and do it without enough money, you can get yourself in trouble."
Originally managed by Inferno Racing, the team started in 2009 as Kenda Pro Cycling, adding Gear Grinder as a presenting sponsor the next season. 5-hour Energy came on board as a co-sponsor in 2011, taking over the title role completely in 2012, the year Phil Gaimon won the Redlands Bicycle Classic.
Following that season, the team merged with On the Rivet Management's Competitive Cyclist, with On the Rivet taking control of the new venture in 2013. Francisco Mancebo came along with the deal, producing the most successful season the team had.
The Spanish veteran of multiple Grand Tours won the final stage and the overall at Redlands, took the final "Gila Monster" stage at the Tour of the Gila – where he finished third overall – and led the Tour de Beauce in Canada for three days. Mancebo's most high-profile results in a 5-hour jersey came at the Tour of Utah, where he won the final stage and finished third overall. Mancebo also took home USA Cycling's 2013 National Racing Calendar individual standings.
But when Mancebo left for Skydive Dubai this season, 5-hour Energy struggled to find similar results. The team suffered a crucial blow when it failed to receive invitations this year to any of the high-profile UCI 2.HC or 2.1 races in the US, including the Tour of California, Tour of Utah and the USA Pro Challenge.
Frankie Andreu, who had directed the team since 2010, told Cyclingnews earlier this year that he would not return for another season. At least four of the team's 12 riders from this season have already signed with new teams next season, including Gavin Mannion to Jelly Belly-Maxxis, Robert Sweeting to Team SmartStop, David Williams to Jamis-Hagens Berman and Michael Woods to Optum Pro Cycling. Kriel said he believes most of the 2014 riders have found new teams.
"I was real honest with the guys; I told them back in August," he said. "Is it good for me? No. But I've always looked out for my riders and I didn't want to get those guys in a pinch. I think the majority of them have all been placed in new jobs. So I'm happy about that."
Kriel said he and On the Rivet haven't given up on the US pro peloton. Many of the team's 2014 partners did want to continue, he said, adding that he planned to work throughout next season to reassemble a program for 2016.
"We're going to try and work on something for 2016 versus trying to force something this late in the game," he said.
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Growing up in Missoula, Montana, Pat competed in his first bike race in 1985 at Flathead Lake. He studied English and journalism at the University of Oregon and has covered North American cycling extensively since 2009, as well as racing and teams in Europe and South America. Pat currently lives in the US outside of Portland, Oregon, with his imaginary dog Rusty.
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