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Jelly Belly sweeps Thailand opener

Former Garmin-Slipstream rider Mike Friedman will be the team's captain and brings ProTour experience to the squad.

Former Garmin-Slipstream rider Mike Friedman will be the team's captain and brings ProTour experience to the squad. (Image credit: Embry Rucker)

Jelly Belly presented by Kenda rode into the victory and the top five places at the opening stage of the UCI 2.2 Princess Mamackakri Sirindhon's Cup Tour of Thailand on Thursday, April 1. The squad will look to strong overall performances with Kiel Reijnen and Will Routely during the next five stages.

"I anticipated a win but not the top five places," said Directeur Sportif Danny van Haute. "From the riders to the staff, we were happy but remain very calm because the next five days will be hard to keep the yellow jersey. Yes, we have the numbers now, but I think every team here in Thailand is going to be riding against us."

Kiel Reijnen won the prologue followed by his teammates Michael Friedman, Will Routley, William Dickenson and Jonathan Chodroff.

Routely and Reijnen are in top form having recently placed third and fourth respectively in the Redlands Bicycle Classic, a four-stage event that kicked off the National Racing Calendar (NRC) in the US.

Kelly Benefit Strategies fields four riders

Another US-based team competing in the race is Kelly Benefit Strategies with a four-man roster. Its defending champion Andrew Bajadali did not start the race due to a knee injury.

"He sustained a knee injury after training camp," said Jake Erker. "We pulled him from the Thailand roster to have as much time as posisible to recover the knee for bigger goals in May. His recovery is going well but we didn't want him to push it over there."

Heading into the first stage, Neil Shirley and Alex Candelario were sat 10th and 11th after their respective prologue performances. Daniel Bowman and Cheyne Hoag are also competing.

"In Thailand we are just getting started," said Directer Sportif Jonas Carney. "In the prologue, our guys rode well despite not really being time trial guys. Today, in the first road stage the field split and we had all four of our guys in the first group of about 50 riders."

The Princess Mamackakri Sirindhon's Cup Tour of Thailand will conclude on Tuesday, April 6.

Kirsten Frattini is an honours graduate of Kinesiology and Health Science from York University in Toronto, Canada. She has been involved in bike racing from the grassroots level to professional cycling's WorldTour. She has worked in both print and digital publishing, and started with Cyclingnews as a North American Correspondent in 2006. Moving into a Production Editor's role in 2014, she produces and publishes international race coverage for all cycling disciplines, edits news and writes features. Currently the Women's Editor at Cyclingnews, Kirsten coordinates global coverage of races, news, features and podcasts about women's professional cycling.