The California-based Bissell team has decided to spend its 2008 sponsorship dollars on adding more diesel fuel to their engine tank, standing out amongst the teams who have followed a recent shift to stacking up multiple sprinters. Cyclingnews' Kirsten Robbins joined the team camp held in Santa Rosa, California, to find out what directeur sportif Glen Mitchell had planned for the week's training regimen to be used as a selection process for the Tour of California.
Mark Bissell, owner of Grand Rapids, a Michigan-based floor-care company, decided to enter into the sixth year of cycling sponsorship, returning as the title sponsor of the previous 2007 Priority Health team. Team director Glen Mitchell commented on the renewed signing and strong relationship between the team and company, stating Bissell's commitment as being one of the biggest factors in the young team's progression. "The passion that both Mark Bissell of Bissell and Bob Huges of Advantage Benefits [show] has been here from day one, even when the team was very small," said the more than eight-year professional and former Priority Health rider. "They have helped the team grow to the point that they have taken the program to the next level. We stemmed off of what we had last year, which was a break-out year with results from riders like Ben and Tom who lifted the profile of the team."
Landing on the podium in the 2007 Tour of California prologue and ending with five victories in the Tour of Southland, New Zealand proved a worthy foundation to build an aspiring stage race team with an additional four riders. "I wanted to use our results as our base and then strengthen the team from there," said Mitchell with regards to welcoming ProTour-experienced Aaron Olson back into American racing, along with former NRC champion Burke Swindlehurst, Jeremy Vennell and Joao Miguel da Silva. "Last year we had twelve riders and this year we've moved to fourteen. We tried to keep the core group of guys together because the chemistry between them worked really well and we could see the results coming from that. We had a lot of team effort behind those individual results that we had."
While the prize money is heavily tied to criterium racing in America, according to Mitchell the prestige is actually still in the stage racing events. Hence, the selection of diesel engines are intended to enhance the performance of the team as a whole, while allowing powerhouse time trialists, Ben Jacques-Maynes and Tom Zirbel, to focus on their GC positions in select UCI tours that include California, Georgia and Missouri, along with domestic events like the Nature Valley Grand Prix, Cascade Classic, Mt Hood and the Tour of Utah that will make up for a minimum of eight weeks of the racing year.
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