Jonathan Vaughters and the U.S. development TIAA-CREF squad are making big strides moving into 2006, with a new co-sponsor and plans for a European campaign. Another way the team is changing is by significantly adding to the roster, both in terms of sheer numbers and talent.
Two of the biggest acquisitions are former U23 world champion Danny Pate and Discovery Channel ex-pat Michael Creed. Cyclingnews' Mark Zalewski spoke with both friends and former teammates on their path to this point in their careers, the roles they foresee on this particular team and what they hope this step will do to help them achieve their goals in the future.
Both Danny Pate and Michael Creed have had their share of ups and downs as professional racers. Back in 1999, after winning the elite national championships, Pate was offered a spot on the top-tier Saeco-Valli & Valli team. Creed also got the nod the same year with a spot on their espoir team. Both friends were on their way to Italy, living the dream of every young racer.
However, things did not go as planned for either. Living alone in a foreign country, not speaking the language and the demands of a division one team took its toll. Creed decided to remain in the U.S. after racing Redlands, but Pate stuck it out for a year, with the team only using him as a reserve rider. In 2000, knowing the team was not renewing his contract, Pate went out and won the U23 world championship in the time trial, and new doors opened up.
During that year, Creed excelled at racing back in the U.S. with 7-Up and the national team, winning even more national championships on the road and track. Creed and Pate then reunited on the Prime Alliance team in 2003, while a veteran Euro-pro Jonathan Vaughters rounded out his career. After Prime Alliance stopped, Pate went to Health Net and then Jelly Belly, while Creed went on to race for the US Postal/Discovery Channel teams in 2004 and 2005 - though again not with the best outcome due to injury, sickness and just the downside of being one of many on a top team.
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