The Hincapie Racing Team will return in 2015 with a 13-man roster led by two-time U23 US criterium champion Ty Magner and 2014 USA Pro Challenge stage winner Robin Carpenter.
The 2015 roster also includes returning riders Oscar Clark, Joe Lewis, Joe Schmaltz, Dion Smith, Tom Skujins, Miguel Bryan and Charlie Hough. New to the team are Jon Hornbeck, Rob Squire, Andzs Flaksis and Mac Brennan. Darren Fuller and 2005 US pro champion Chris Wherry will join Hincapie Racing as assistant directors.
Longtime director Thomas Craven told Cyclingnews that the 2015 team, which has raced the past two years as the Hincapie Sportswear Development Team, will be ready and able to reclaim the position the riders earned this season at the front of the US domestic peloton.
That battle will start in earnest in April at the Redlands Bicycle Classic, the first race of USA Cycling's National Racing Calendar. Craven's squad won the team rankings at Redlands this year and also the individual general classification with Joey Rosskopf.
"I think Creed said he's going to come out swinging," Craven said, referring to Team SmartStop director Mike Creed. "But he's going to have to punch me out first."
Craven's aggressive-yet-playful attitude, on display throughout this season in his riders' actions on the road, led to the team's best season since it moved up to the Continental level three years ago. Hincapie tallied more race victories in 2014, 39, than any other development team.
Carpenter scored perhaps the biggest win in team history when he soloed to victory during the wet and dangerous ride into Crested Butte on stage 2 of the USA Pro Challenge. Just weeks earlier at the Tour of Utah, Hincapie’s Rosskopf turned in an eye-opening ride on the queen stage, narrowly finishing second to BMC Racing’s Cadel Evans during the uphill finish. Rosskpof signed with BMC for next year.
Other team highlights from 2014 included Rosskopf's overall win at the Redlands, where he took the lead in the closing kilometres on the final day. Skujins also provided some mid-season results, dominating racing at the Tour de Beauce in June with two stage wins, the overall victory and jerseys for the points classification and for best young rider.
Hincapie Racing is looking for more splashy results this year from Carpenter and Skujins, who Craven said already had their "breakout" seasons this year.
"In a different economy of cycling, those guys would be rolling out, too," Craven said. "So those guys have proven themselves, but I've got a bunch of guys who are ready to make that move."
One of those riders is Dion Smith, the 21-year-old from New Zealand. Smith opened Hincapie's account last year by winning the opening stage at Redlands, and he finished 11th at the U23 World Championship Road Race in September. Craven said Smith has so far ridden under the radar.
"He's not only a quiet person, he's a quiet rider as well," Craven said. "But you look back at his results and that guy was super consistent all year. He won the first race for us. He climbs well, he time trials well, he's really consistent in stage racing. He was seventh at Beauce and fourth at Philly. He's always in there, but nobody really talks about him because he's so quiet you just never see the guy."
Adding Flaskis and Squire to the team, from Rietumu-Delfin and Jamis-Hagens Berman, respectively, will provide a reunion of sorts for Carpenter, who previously rode with his new Hincapie teammates at Slipstream's Chipotle development team in 2012.
"Those guys are all buddies," Craven said. "They're all excited to be back together."
The team will race a program next year similar to that of 2014, with a focus on earning invitations to the Tour of California, Tour of Utah and USA Pro Challenge in Colorado. The national championships will take place in the team's home base of Greenville, South Carolina in 2015, so expect those races to be a major focus as well.
Craven said another strong-looking domestic peloton should make for an exciting season.
"All the teams look great," Craven said. "I'm excited about the fact that everybody has cut out all the old refuse and put in a bunch of new guys. It's really going to open up the racing and make it what we all want it to be: fun and unpredictable. The unpredictability is just maddening to me, so I'm looking forward to this whole new mix of guys."
2015 Hincapie Development Team
Directors: Thomas Craven, Darren Fuller, Chris Wherry
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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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