PureBlack racing pondering ProTeam status in 2015

New Zealand's Pure Black Racing pushes the pace.

New Zealand's Pure Black Racing pushes the pace. (Image credit: marcoquezada.com/nyvelocity/)

After winning its first overall title at the Tour de Toona last week, UCI Continental Pure Black Racing is turning its attention to the NRC Cascade Cycling Classic held from July 19-24 in Bend, Oregon as a building block for its debut at the UCI Tour of Utah held from August 9-14 around Salt Lake City, Utah.

"Tour de Toona and the Cascade Cycling Classic were always a part of our build up for the Tour of Utah," Team owner Carl Williams told Cyclingnews.

"Toona was important for us to follow up on what we accomplished earlier this season. After Cascade we will go to the Tour of Utah, which is a huge opportunity for our team and we are honoured to be invited. It will be a great opportunity for some of our guys to lead the team at a race like that."

ProTeam aspirations

Pure Black Racing grew from William’s New Zealand-based amateur team Bici Vida. After nearly two years of success, the team was renamed and acquired UCI-Continental status this season. William is on a five-year plan to acquire a ProTeam license by 2015.

"I wanted to build a platform that would essentially take a New Zealand team to the Tour de France, which is the goal in the end," Williams said. "We want to build the team slowly and more incrementally than some of the other teams that decide they wanted to be ProTour right away. We want to take our time because cycling is new at the professional level in New Zealand and we need to build its infrastructure."

Williams chose to base his team in the US and focus on the National Racing Calendar (NRC) for its first season with Continental license. Next year, he plans to renew a Continental license with the UCI and continue building the team by adding more riders and a focusing on the NRC along with UCI events in Asia and Europe.

A New Zealand team would add to the presence of Australian team GreenEDGE, which are expected to make their ProTeam debut next year, and add to the continuing global growth of cycling. Julian Dean (Garmin-Ceverlo) and Timothy Gudsell (PureBlack but formerly FDJ) have raised the profile of cycling in NZ significantly over the past decade, and the move to ProTeam status seems the natural next step for PureBlack.

The season so far

The team enjoyed ample success this year beginning with a stage victory at the NRC opener Redlands Bicycle Classic, Tour of Somerville and Tour de Grove. It stepped up a notch when it won the opening stage of the UCI Tour de Beauce with climber Scott Lyttle, who put forth a strong bid in the overall classification. He went on to win the overall title at the Tour de Toona. The team is hoping to build on these results at the Cascade Cycling Classic.

"Cascade provides us another opportunity to be really competitive at a domestic level for a stage win and an overall results," Williams said. "We want to continue to build on the momentum that we have had at every event all year."

"Literally, every race these guys have gone to they have stepped up another level," he said. "The win at Toona has given these guys a lot of confidence that they can do well against domestic level riders and teams."

Pure Black Racing was one of 17 teams that earned a coveted spot on the start line at the UCI Tour of Utah. ProTeams include HTC-Highroad, RadioShack, BMC Racing, Garmin-Cervelo, Liquigas-Cannondale along with Pro Continental teams Geox-TMC, Team Type 1-Sanofi Aventis, SpiderTech p/b C10 and UnitedHealthcare.

Eight of those teams are UCI Continental level - they include - Bissell, Endura Racing, Gobernacion de Antioquia, Jamis-Sutter Home, Kelly Benefit Strategies-OptumHealth, RealCyclist.com and Trek-Livestrong.

"Tour of Utah is a completely different level of playing field and the highest level of competition that we have done," Williams said. "We got a taste of that at Philadelphia [TD Bank International Cycling Classic] and the guys thrived by finishing sixth and the entire team was present at the end of the race. So, they are going into Utah with some confidence and going up against the ProTour teams won’t be totally foreign to them."

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Kirsten Frattini