Kenda Pro Cycling owner Chad Thompson announced the addition of Italian Luca Damiani to its roster in 2010. The late-signing adds a valuable element of speed and technical skill to a team that seeks success at the National Racing Calendar (NRC) level next year.
"We were trying to see if we had the resources to do it," Thompson said. "I knew his results, knew he was a brilliant rider but I wanted to see how he was as a teammate and with communication. I called around and he got gleaming reviews as a friend and a rider. I was surprised at how everyone felt about him."
Damiani, 26, is a member of the Italian National Cyclo-cross team and arrived state-side in October of 2007 to try his hand at US ‘cross before the start of the European calendar. He left a sound impression on the former Colavita-Sutter Home presented by Cooking Light team, and came on board for two season in 2008 and 2009.
Damiani’s contract was not renewed for a third season following the team’s title sponsorship change to Jamis-Sutter Home presented by Colavita in 2010.
"He had offers in Italy but he fell in love with the US style of racing and he wanted to be here," Thompson said. "He will fit the mold of all the riders we’ve been hiring and that’s because he’s aggressive. He is an all-out rider that has sheer tenacity and attacks often. Having an aggressive riding style is our theory and motif for 2010, to let the riders do the talking. He also really wanted to ride with Frankie Andreu, too."
Increased funding allowed Thompson the means to hire well-known directeur sportif and former cyclist Frankie Andreu. Andreu’s career highlights include a 12-year professional cycling career and nine Tour de France starts before retiring in 2000. Since then, Andreu has taken on a directeur sportif role for teams Toyota-United and now Kenda Pro Cycling.
Damiani is best known for his savvy cyclo-cross and criterium skills. He won the CSC Invitational in 2008. He will join the Kenda Pro Cycling Team at training camp held in Athens, Georgia in February. He has committed to the racing in two segments beginning on February 26 through the end of May. Following the Italian National Championships in June, Damiani will return to US racing from July through September.
Kenda Pro Cycling will start its 2010 season at the Tour of Taiwan in March followed by the Tour of Gila, Tour of Utah, Nature Valley Grand Prix, Battenkill, Air Force Classic and the Philadelphia International Championships. Plans for racing might also include the Redlands Bicycle Classic and Thompson is hoping for invitations to the Tour of California and Tour of Missouri.