The UCI on Monday confirmed that Rally Cycling will compete in the Pro Continental ranks next year, jumping from Continental status to cycling's second division. The US team, which started in 2009 as Kelly Benefit Strategies-Medifast, will continue to race in the US while taking on an extended international schedule.
"Races such as the Tour of California, Tour of Utah, Colorado Classic and Tour of Alberta will be our main North American objectives in 2018,"Jonas Carney, the team's performance director, said in a press release. "Internationally, the move to Pro Conti opens up a lot of doors for us. It will allow us to pursue prestigious races around the globe."
The jump to Pro Continental status will allow Rally to compete in WorldTour races without the UCI exception that allowed the team to compete in this year's Tour of California as a third-division program. Rally Cycling made history in 2017, taking two stage wins at the Tour of California as the first Continental team to earn WorldTour victories.
Evan Huffman earned the two stage wins in California in 2017 as well as the overall win at the 2.1 Tour of Alberta. Teammate Rob Britton played a huge role in Huffman's California wins, then went on to seize victory at the 2.HC Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah. Rally also topped the overall standings at the 2017 UCI America Tour.
"[This year] was a year for the record books within our program, and we couldn't be more ready to move up a division," Carney said. "It grants us access to the world's biggest races, and we have already proven we can compete on a global level."
The move to cycling's second tier marks an evolution from a criterium-based program to one of the top stage-racing teams on the US domestic circuit. Now team management, directors and riders hope to continue the success on the next level.
"When we started out, our strength was in leadouts, in executing as an entire team," Carney said. “We didn't always have the strongest rider, but we knew how to give our leaders the best shot at winning bike races. We've used the lessons we learned in the early years of the program and applied those same principals to the current group of phenomenal athletes with spectacular results."
The team's goal looks beyond the results, however, as evidenced by a recent charity event in conjunction with Rally Health and the National Football League's San Diego Chargers.
Team riders Jesse Anthony, Brad Huff, Matteo Dal-Cin and Britton joined Chargers running back and 2014 Heisman Trophy finalist Melvin Gordon in a Holiday Bike Build benefiting 150 children from the Boys & Girls Club of Carson.
"What we were able to accomplish this season was inspiring," said Rally Cycling Managing Director Charles Aaron. "We have always stayed true to the values and business goals of our partners, and that has led to long-lasting and successful relationships. We have always strived to be more than just a racing team. We want to inspire people to take positive steps toward improving their own health, hopefully by bringing a bicycle along for the ride.”
Although the complete Rally Cycling roster has not yet been revealed, the team previously announced extending with Huffman and Britton, while adding Ryan Anderson, Robin Carpenter, Nigel Ellsay, Ty Magner and Kyle Murphy for 2018.