Former professional Frankie Andreu has extended his commitment with the Kenda-Geargrinder team through 2012. The squad will enter its third year as a registered Continental team with the International Cycling Union (UCI) and has re-signed its leading rider from Italy Luca Damiani.
The former member of Lance Armstrong's US Postal team is hoping to raise the status of Kenda Pro Cycling in the coming season with the help of some additional funding. "A lot of teams are trying to turn Professional Continental or trying to go ProTour. I would like to see Kenda with a little bit more support to build into a powerful domestic team that can race in all the races in the US and not be limited because of their status," Andreu said.
"Eventually this year or next year, if more sponsors come on board, the objective is to get into the biggest races in the US like the Tour of California. I would like to see the team with the right type of riders so that we could go and ride those kinds of races and that is what we are shooting for in 2011."
With the possibility of the Amgen Tour of California turning ProTour, teams like Kenda would have to step up to the next level of UCI teams in order to compete, which takes a bigger budget. Andreu admitted that the team is in search of a partner which would help bolster the roster with stronger riders and increase the number of top-level races it hopes to participate in over the next two years.
"Kenda signed on for another two years which is great it puts us in a good position, but we will need to find an additional sponsor or partner to be able to continue to grow the team," Andreu said. "Kenda’s involvement is important because it allows us to have a team but it’s the starting point and we need other sponsors to be able to build on that.
Italy’s Luca Damiani signed on with the team for the first time last year and has also renewed his term for two more years. He is remembered for his win at the 2008 CSC Invitational. This year he brought the team top-ten successes at Tour of the Battenkill, Athens Twilight, Joe Martin Stage Race, USA SpeedWeek series, Wilmington Grand Prix, Kelly Cup and Bike Jam, Tour of Somerville and the Nature Valley Grand Prix.
"Luca was the first rider we signed back," Andreu said. "He was a huge part of the success we had this year. He’s a great rider and always up there and made a big difference for our team this year. Everything is there with the riders that we are putting together. It’s just that being able to move up that extra notch which we are working very hard to bring in a few big riders for 2011 which will allow us to do some of these bigger races."
According to Andreu, Kenda-Geargrinder plans to sign on 12 to 13 riders to its Continental roster and eliminating its current Elite team. Its event schedule will focus on the National Racing Calendar along with stage races like the Amgen Tour of California and the Quiznos Pro Challenge, should they receive an invitation.
"You have to have a strong caliber of riders with climbers, time trialists and guys that can be competitive at that top level," he added. "We need to be able to offer a decent salary for some of these guys. To get into California and Colorado you need some stronger riders and high profile names that of course require a bigger salary."