The Jelly Belly presented by Kenda riders surprised themselves with an impressive team performance in the opening prologue at the Redlands Bicycle Classic held on Thursday, March 25. The eight-man roster placed two riders on the podium and a third rider inside the top ten.
"I anticipated a good result but I didn't anticipate three guys in the top ten," said Directeur Sportif Danny Van Haute. "It's awesome and a great start the season for the Jelly Belly-Kenda cycling team. It's a tough stage race and there are three more days but we are going to do our best to nab Fly V off the top podium."
Ben Day (Fly V Australia) finished the five-kilometre uphill time trial with the fastest time of the day at 9:19, only two seconds faster than Carter Jones and four seconds faster than Kiel Reijnen, both from Jelly Belly. Their teammate Will Routely rolled in 18 seconds later in seventh place.
"There are a lot of good teams and guys here and today was just a prologue, there are still three more stages," Van Haute said. "We are satisfied with the results and we are going to be going home with happy faces."
Jones and Reijnen are students at the University of Colorado in Boulder and both are currently on spring break while competing at the Redlands Bicycle Classic. The pair of student-pro bike racers are eager to maintain their places in the overall classification over the following three stages.
"It was our goal here to do well as a team," Reijnen said. "We definitely surprised ourselves after today but we have a great new roster and sponsors. I think a combination of those things lead to a stellar result and lifted the moral of the team."
The Redlands Bicycle Classic roster includes Jones, Reijnen and Routely along with Brad Huff, Jacob Rathe, Sean Mazich, Jonathan Chodroff and Mike Friedman.
"Whatever we can win whether it's a team classification, a stage or the whole GC is a big plus for us this year," Van Haute said. "We don't want to be second, or third or tenth. This is a year that I want our team to win stages, win races. The characters that we have on the team this year are capable of winning and I think we partly showed that today with three guys in the top ten."
The Redlands Bicycle Classic kicked off the National Racing Calendar (NRC) series yet most teams already have had several weekends of racing in their legs. The team will next compete at the Tour of Thailand and the Tour of Korea.
"We are rested," Van Haute said. "Every team has a different program and we elected not to do San Dimas. I really like taking good care of my staff and riders. We would have done three stage races in a row, San Dimas, Redlands and Tour of Thailand and ten days later is the Tour of Korea. Not the same guys are doing all those races but the staff is. I don't want to burn out my staff until June. We decided to put 110 percent into the Redlands Bicycle Classic and so far it's paying off."