The Holowesko Partners Under-23 Development Team surprised themselves when they won the best team title at the 2009 Redlands Bicycle Classic. This year, the young men are back and confident that an overall title amongst the top professional men's teams in the nation is attainable.
"We will take a crack at it again," said Alex Howes, the Under-23 US National Road and Criterium Champion. "We are coming to race, not to be pack fill. We have to set the goals high. Last year when we won it that was a big surprise for us so maybe we will surprise ourselves again this year."
The Redlands Bicycle Classic's four-staged event kicks off the National Racing Calendar (NRC) on March 25-28 in California. There are 26 participating teams that total nearly 200 racers. Holowesko Partners will field eight riders eager to make an impression amongst the pros.
The squad includes Howes, Peter Salon, Caleb Fairly, Taylor Sheldon, Andrei Krasilnikau, Lachlan Morton, Danny Summerhill and Raymond Kreder.
Howes had a break out year when he won the road race and the criterium at the U23 national championships held last year in Bend, Oregon. He proved to be a formidable competitor in the professional peloton when he won the fifth and final stage of the Tour of Utah and hopes to have an equally strong performance at the Redlands Bicycle Classic this weekend.
"We want to have a good showing to start out with, like everyone else," Howes said. "Our main goal for the team this year is to try to gain some experience for the new guys. For a lot of the guys on the team this will be their first NRC race."
Holowesko Partners lost two marquee riders in Peter Stetina and Kirk Carlsen who were promoted to its big brother ProTour team Garmin-Transitions this year. Directeur Sportif Chann McRae is eager to develop the next cycle of young talent at stage races like the Redlands Bicycle Classic, Tour of the Gila, Cascade Cycling Classic and the Tour of Utah.
"We could win the team overall, it's definitely a possibility," McRae said. "We are going to put as many riders as possible into the top ten in the individual general classification. We don't go into these stage races with the team overall as a number one goal. We would rather place as many guys in the GC and get a stage win. If we do that, we might win the team overall too."