McCabe, who rode for Team SmartStop the past two years, was the 2014 US National Racing Calendar winner and finished second to then-teammate Eric Marcotte in the 2014 US pro road race championship.
Team director Thomas Craven told Cyclingnews on Tuesday that he’s been watching McCabe for the past few years and was excited to add him to next year's roster.
“I’ve been involved with this team for four years, about the same time Travis and those guys were dominating the scene with Elbowz,” Craven said. “He went to SmartStop and has been real successful there. He’s been a tough competitor for us and was always somebody that we had to account for. But since the demise of their team, and we’re losing Ty (Magner) to UHC, we sort of had a spot to fill for a sprinter like that. I think Travis fits that real well.”
McCabe burst onto the US scene after signing with SmartStop for the 2014 season. Aside from taking the NRC overall that year, he won a stage at the Redlands Bicycle Classic and finished third overall there after leading for two days; he won the Winston-Salem Classic; a stage at Joe Martin; the Stillwater Criterium at North Star Grand Prix; and a stage at the Cascade Cycling Classic.
The wins were tougher for McCabe to come by this season, however, as he grabbed just a couple of podium finishes and a top 10 during a stage at the Tour of Utah.
Craven said he believes the new team next year will help McCabe reverse that trend.
“I think last year he tried a little bit too much to be sort of a GC person, so we’ll push him back into that sprinter role a little bit more,” Craven said.
“He can win field sprints. He’s fast. I think it’s easy to get overshadowed when you’re with Jure [Kocjan] and how those things play out. But he fits in well with the team with his personality. I think just exposing him to the different style of racing that we do will help. He’s just one of those guys who is really, really consistent all year. And just the way that he races, you now, he’s aggressive, and hopefully he will be on this team.”
McCabe, 26, will likely get his first chance to race with the new team at the Tour de San Luis in January. The team will be making its first appearance at the race next January.
Craven is also eyeing some other program changes for the 2016 season, including an early spring trip to Europe. The early US schedule involves a lot of travel and a lot of expense, Craven said, and the team can get more racing miles for fewer dollars by travelling overseas.
“Of course we are awaiting invites for the big four [North American] races,” he said. “And we’re contemplating a trip to go to France to race from essentially March 21 through May 1. I can probably do that for half as much [as following the US schedule].
“So we’d start in Normandy, which will be miserably cold and terrible, but they all want to do it; they think they want to do it. Then we’d come back for California.”
The team will lose several key riders from 2015, including Ty Magner to UnitedHealthcare, Latvian Toms Skujins to Cannondale-Garmin and Kiwi Dion Smith to One Pro Cycling. Craven said three-year Hincapie rider Joe Schmalz will also not return next year. To help fill those gaps, Craven has brought on Andrei Krasilnikau of Belarus.
“He’s actually the Belarussian national road champion this year as well,” Craven said. “He’s going to be my Toms replacement. He speaks English perfectly. He lived in Switzerland so he speaks French, and he’s a super, super nice guy, just like Toms.”
The 26-year-old has ridden at the Continental level for three years and was part of Chipotle-First Solar, the former Slipstream development team. Krasilnikau rode with the Minsk Cycling Club, a Belarus-registered Continental team, in 2015.
Craven also signed 20-year-old Brendan Rhim for next season. Rhim, who rode for California-Giant-Specialized in 2015, is a sprinter who won the Redlands critetium this season. He’ll join Miguel Byron as the other U23 rider on next year’s squad.
Growing up in Missoula, Montana, Pat competed in his first bike race in 1985 at Flathead Lake before studying English and journalism at the University of Oregon. He has covered North American cycling extensively since 2009, as well as racing and teams in Europe and South America. Pat currently lives in the US outside of Portland, Oregon.
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