Bissell Pro Cycling veteran Ben Jacques-Maynes will jump ship to Jamis-Sutter Home for the 2013 season, joining Colombian climber Janier Acevedo as the US-based UCI Continental team's major off-season acquisitions so far.
"Adding Ben to the roster is a big opportunity to contest all the stage races we will go to," said team director Sebastian Alexandre, who is currently in Brazil at the Tour do Rio. "I have really been enjoying watching Luis [Amaran] and Ben, who have been some of the best riders over the last few years in the US calendar. So now that both will race as teammates is something that increases the motivation to all the young guys and the team and to everyone around it. I also know both of them are excited about it. I cannot wait to see them in action."
Jacques-Maynes, 34, raced with the Kodak Gallery-Sierra Nevada team from 2002-2006. He joined the Priority Health team in 2007 and had been with the Bissell squad since it took over the title sponsorship in 2008. Jacques-Maynes had a rough season in 2011, when he developed an infection after a broken collarbone at the Amgen Tour of California in May. He missed the remainder of the season but rebounded strongly in 2012, winning the most aggressive rider jersey for stage 1 at the Tour of California and going second overall at the Nature Valley Grand Prix in June.
He went on to win the mountains classification at the Tour of Utah in August after taking the jersey on stage 1, losing it to USPro road race champion Timmy Duggan (Liquigas-Cannondale) on stage 3 and then taking it back for good on the penultimate stage. Jacques-Maynes said he enjoyed his time with Bissell but is looking forward to more challenges and greater responsibility with Jamis next season.
"It's a good opportunity to really try and reformulate myself as a team leader," Jacques-Maynes told Cyclingnews Thursday. "I know I bring a lot in terms of time trialing and GC. I feel like I show up prepared for every race I do, and I haven't been able to show that at a lot of races because Bissell has a very deep team. So I'm going to have a lot of opportunity to race for myself, be the go-to guy and have that pressure again. I'm really looking forward to it."
Now the six-year veteran of a team with one of the longest-running sponsors in US cycling will try and build a foundation within an entirely new team structure.
"I have 100 percent confidence in Sebastian Alexandre and the program that he's run," Jacques-Maynes said. "My experience has been fully positive with those guys racing on the road. Luis Amaran has been a class act, and I really wanted to jump at the opportunity to ride with him. It's kind of back to the basics of why I got into biking: you want to race hard and have fun with a good group of guys that I get along with and, hopefully, will get a lot of results for."
Bissell has filled the vacant spot left by Jacques-Maynes' departure by signing Redlands Bicycle Classic overall winner Phil Gaimon from Kenda/5-Hour Energy.
Acevedo, 27, rode with South American UCI Continental Gobernacion-Indeportes team in 2011 and 2012. He won a stage of the Tour of Utah in 2011 and finished fifth and seventh in stages at the inaugural USA Pro Cycling Challenge in Colorado that same year. This season he had multiple top-10 finishes at both the Vuelta a Colombia and Vuelta a Mexico.
"Janier is a very good climber," Alexandre said. "We know that as he has won Vuelta a Costa Rica in the past (one of the hardest races in America), and we saw him in Utah and Colorado last year around the top climbers. Tour of the Gila will be a race that will suit him well, but I expect to earn the invitation for the Tour of California early on the year so we can really show his class."
Earning invitations to the big three UCI races in the US - Tour of California, Tour of Utah and the USA Pro Challenge in Colorado - will figure largely on Jamis-Sutter Home's radar for 2013. Race organizers left the team out of all three races last season, and Alexandre acknowledged that getting into them will be a top priority this year. Alexandre hopes signing Jacques-Maynes and Acevedo could help them reach that goal.
"We will have a very strong team with Ben and Luis and their aggressive style of racing and Janier with his ability to climb with the best riders," Alexandre said. "We are putting a very competitive team together for any race we will go to, so I am confident that the race organizers will see it and give us the opportunity to show it. Like I said before, Luis and Ben are those guys who make you excited to see bike racing in the US."
Jacques-Maynes has been racing in the US long enough to know that marquee names on the roster alone will not be enough to get the race organizers' attention. They'll have to live up to their reputations as well.
"Having big names is one part of it, but having results with those names is the other part - racing hard, maybe even going for some really early season results," Jacques-Maynes said. "But those ultimate decisions are out of my hands, so I just do my job as well as I can, and over time I've been rewarded with participating in every edition of the USA Pro Cycling Challenge and every edition of the Amgen Tour of California. I think I've represented myself as a racer and the sponsors really well."
The Jamis-Sutter Home team will field 11 riders for 2013, four less than are currently listed on the 2012 roster. Alexandre said that beyond a full US race calendar, the team could return to races in Spain and South America again next season.
Jamis-Sutter Home will have more information about its 2013 roster sometime this week or next, according to Alexandre.