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Kelly Benefit Strategies-OptumHealth camps out in sunny California

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Mike Creed, new to Kelly Benefit Strategies - OptumHealth for 2011, gets warmed up for his session in the A2 Wind Tunnel.

Mike Creed, new to Kelly Benefit Strategies - OptumHealth for 2011, gets warmed up for his session in the A2 Wind Tunnel.
(Image credit: Peter Hymas)
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Michael Creed gives a big grin one of the teams action photos.

Michael Creed gives a big grin one of the teams action photos.
(Image credit: Jonathan Devich/epicimages.us)
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Daniel Holloway shows off his early season sprint speed

Daniel Holloway shows off his early season sprint speed
(Image credit: Jonathan Devich/epicimages.us)
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Alex Candelario bring great experience back to the team for another season

Alex Candelario bring great experience back to the team for another season
(Image credit: Jonathan Devich/epicimages.us)
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Mike Friedman gets the sprinters in line for a little bit of speed work

Mike Friedman gets the sprinters in line for a little bit of speed work
(Image credit: Jonathan Devich/epicimages.us)
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Friedman shows off the new Lazer helmets rider labels

Friedman shows off the new Lazer helmets rider labels
(Image credit: Jonathan Devich/epicimages.us)
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The team will be riding in style this year on the new Orbea bikes and Acura team cars

The team will be riding in style this year on the new Orbea bikes and Acura team cars
(Image credit: Jonathan Devich/epicimages.us)
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Tom Soladay works on his high speed descending skills

Tom Soladay works on his high speed descending skills
(Image credit: Jonathan Devich/epicimages.us)
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Jonas Carney is back as team director for the new season and looking for big things

Jonas Carney is back as team director for the new season and looking for big things
(Image credit: Jonathan Devich/epicimages.us)
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The team heads out for more hours in the saddle

The team heads out for more hours in the saddle
(Image credit: Jonathan Devich/epicimages.us)
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The Kelly Benefit Strategys team is back on Orbea bikes this year along with Mavic wheels and trademark yellow shoes

The Kelly Benefit Strategys team is back on Orbea bikes this year along with Mavic wheels and trademark yellow shoes
(Image credit: Jonathan Devich/epicimages.us)
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Andrew Bajadali leads a group on one of the twisty climbs

Andrew Bajadali leads a group on one of the twisty climbs
(Image credit: Jonathan Devich/epicimages.us)
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The Kelly Benefit Strategies presented by OptimumHealth team gets ready to roll out for bonding time on the road

The Kelly Benefit Strategies presented by OptimumHealth team gets ready to roll out for bonding time on the road
(Image credit: Jonathan Devich/epicimages.us)
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The Kelly Benefit Strategies teams Andrew Bajadali, Mike Creed and Alex Candelario have a laugh before things get started under the California sun

The Kelly Benefit Strategies teams Andrew Bajadali, Mike Creed and Alex Candelario have a laugh before things get started under the California sun
(Image credit: Jonathan Devich/epicimages.us)
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The group almost ready to roll

The group almost ready to roll
(Image credit: Jonathan Devich/epicimages.us)
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Jesse Anthony shows off his new team kit for the road session after his strong season of cross racing

Jesse Anthony shows off his new team kit for the road session after his strong season of cross racing
(Image credit: Jonathan Devich/epicimages.us)
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The team group rides takes them up some of the steep canyons north of LA

The team group rides takes them up some of the steep canyons north of LA
(Image credit: Jonathan Devich/epicimages.us)
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The group gets a little more competitive and strung out on the climb

The group gets a little more competitive and strung out on the climb
(Image credit: Jonathan Devich/epicimages.us)
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It was every man for himself near the top of the climb.

It was every man for himself near the top of the climb.
(Image credit: Jonathan Devich/epicimages.us)
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Steep roads and thick foliage on the way up

Steep roads and thick foliage on the way up
(Image credit: Jonathan Devich/epicimages.us)
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Riders take time to rest and enjoy the view once the get to the top of the climb

Riders take time to rest and enjoy the view once the get to the top of the climb
(Image credit: Jonathan Devich/epicimages.us)
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Kelly Benefit Strategies presented by OptimumHealth team heads home along Highway 1 and a long day on the bikes

Kelly Benefit Strategies presented by OptimumHealth team heads home along Highway 1 and a long day on the bikes
(Image credit: Jonathan Devich/epicimages.us)

Kelly Benefit Strategies-OptumHealth held their team training camp along the western seaboard’s sunny beaches of southern California, a sharp contrast to last month’s winter meet-and-greet held on the slopes of Winter Park, Colorado. According to directeur sportif, Jonas Carney, the fifteen-man roster is tasked with logging in more than 30 hours of warm weather riding during the seven-day camp.

“This will be our fourth training camp in Oxnard, California,” Carney told Cyclingnews. “We've found it to be the perfect location and atmosphere for our team. The weather is ideal and the training is phenomenal. There is no place in southern California where the riding is better than the Santa Monica Mountains. It doesn't hurt that the team is housed on one of the nicest stretches of beach. For the last two years we have been fortunate enough to find a house right on the beach that can accommodate the entire team.”

The team is making use of a rented house in Oxnard, located on the outskirts of Santa Monica. According to Carney, the riders prefers the home-style atmosphere with a kitchen for cooking dinners each night and a feel that is more convenient than spending a week in a hotel rooms.

The roster includes new riders US Pro Criterium Champion Dan Holloway, Mike Friedman, Mike Creed, Jason Donald, Thomas Soladay, Julian Kyer, Colton Barrett and Michael Sherer. Returning riders include Andrew Bajadali, Alex Candelario, Reid Mumford, Jesse Anthony, Marsh Cooper, Dan Bowman and Cheyne Hoag. Riders suit up and depart on their bikes every morning at 9:30 and head toward Malibu and through the mountains.

“The bulk of the riders go for 90 to 100 miles and hit several canyons in the Santa Monica Mountains a day,” Carney said. “I expect the majority of our guys will ride roughly 30 hours in the first seven days of camp. There is some disparity in the fitness levels of the riders at the moment, so some guys are just logging miles, while others are pushing themselves on the climbs.”

It’s not all training at the team camp, however, with the final two days booked for presentations along with sponsor and media visits. On Tuesday, the riders will welcome their sponsors on a morning bike ride followed by a barbeque on the beach.

“It's a great opportunity for the athletes, staff, and sponsors to become more familiar with each other,” Carney said. “But while this camp is more focused on training, photo shoots, meetings with the management and sponsors, our team is almost always having fun. The athletes are living in the house together and constantly interacting.”

Amgen Tour of California positioned as main season focus

Organizers of the Amgen Tour of California announced Kelly Benefit Strategies as one of five US-based Continental outfits invited to participate in the marquee event held from May 15-22.

“We were thrilled to receive an invitation to the Amgen Tour of California,” Carney said. “It is the most important race in the Western Hemisphere and a fantastic chance for us to provide our sponsors with exposure in front of a huge audience.”

Carney will be putting together the strongest team to date that will contest the eight-stage race. The roster will likely include former participants Friedman, Creed and Donald. The team held the King of the Mountain jersey for two stages last year and Carney will be looking for stage podiums and special jerseys once again.

“We are grateful for the opportunity to compete in the Amgen Tour of California and we are going to do everything possible to have an impact on the event,” Carney said. It's important to remember that we will be racing against the world's best on some very difficult courses. We are definitely capable of reaching the podium on some stages. No matter what, we will need to race aggressively, have some luck, and take advantage of any opportunity that presents itself.”

The team will begin its racing season in March at the OCBC Cycle Singapore