By Kirsten Robbins
Kelly Benefit Strategies Pro Cycling team capped off a successful international racing campaign celebrating a pair of overall victories. The team's star climber Andrew Bajadali won the Tour of Thailand last week and a most recent win came from time trialist, Scott Zwisanksi, at the Tour of Uruguay on Sunday. The American-based team took advantage of an absence of competitive events on the North American Racing Calendar (NRC) this month to experience racing abroad.
"With a lot of our races being cancelled we had to find some racing to do instead of just sitting at home," said team manager Ken Mills. "We spent some time contacting international races looking for invites and it panned out that Uruguay and Thailand invited us to over."
The squad's only competition previous to departure was the Redlands Bicycle Classic held in March. According to Mills, the two overall victories were some-what of a surprise given that the riders were over trained and under raced heading into them.
"Most of the other teams in the US had about 25 race days in their legs by March," said Mills, who organised a hefty training camp in February to make up for a lack of competition.
They were the only American team at the Tour of Uruguay and reminded daily that no foreign team had ever won the 10 day event. After five stage wins they were confident the overall title was with in reach.
"Our main objective in going to the international events was to get a couple of stage wins," Mills said. "The general classification was never on the board for us in the beginning. We wanted to go into it with the idea of racing hard but instead we ended up defend the jersey from the start. As we got further into the race we felt confident that we could put someone on the podium in the top three."
The team's two early season wins bodes well for upcoming target at the Tour of the Gila. "I think our success this month means that we are going to have more success in the races that are really important to us in the mid-season," he said. "I think the guys will be flying come Gila time. I wouldn't be surprised if there are a rash of victories for us coming up."
Kelly Benefit Strategies Medifast has confirmed its rosters for the Tour of Battenkill, Tour of the Gila and the Joe Martin Stage race. Other targeted events include Kelly Cup, Philadelphia International Cycling Championship, Tour de Beauce, US Air Force Cycling Classic and the Tour of New York.