Velo Bella announces elite 'cross team

US women's team Velo Bella has announced its lineup as the first all-female cycling team to compete on the US national cyclo-cross circuit. All six of last year's riders have returned to the team, including two 2005 US National Cyclocross Team members, Sarah Kerlin and Barb Howe; the 2005 NCAA National Cyclocross Champion, Melodie Metzger; and 2003 US National Cyclocross Team member Christine Vardaros with veteran Bellas Erin Kassoy and Sami Fournier adding experience. New to the team is Ann Fitzsimmons.

"We're honoured to have Ann on the team," explained team founder, Sabine Dukes, "She entered her first cyclocross race two years ago as part of a Dirty Dozen contest we held to encourage beginners. To see her racing on the elite level now is extremely rewarding."

In 2005, Velo Bella's elite cyclocross team will focus on the US Gran Prix of Cyclocross Series and the National Championships. Velo Bella's calendar includes over 30 local races, UCI events, and regional championships. The team plans to win North American UCI events, place in the top three at Nationals, and send at least two riders to the World Championships.

The team will race on custom designed blue or pink Rock Lobster cyclocross bikes with pink Chris King headsets. A portion of the proceeds from the sales of the headset will be donated to the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation. Other sponsors include Easton, Crank Brothers, Fizik, Limar, Wipperman, IRD, Good Vibrations, Mr Grumpy's, and the never grumpy Sheila Moon. The team is actively searching for a title sponsor, as currently the riders are funding their own racing. "We had to scramble last year to help send our two riders to Worlds", said Sabine, "Fortunately our cyclocross community came through to help the team."

In addition to national racing, the elite team will be joined by dozens of amateur racers who will compete in local races throughout Northern California, Minnesota, Mid Atlantic, North Carolina, Michigan, Tennessee, Connecticut, Georgia and other events across the country. Velo Bella is also promoting the Surf City Cyclocross Series and the 5th stop of the US Gran Prix of Cyclocross, as a fundraiser for the team and as an excuse to try its hand at the limbo.

Team roster

Christine "Peanut" Vardaros (Mill Valley, CA)
Sarah "Bella Loca" Kerlin (Santa Cruz, CA)
Barbara "Barbarella" Howe (Marin, CA)
Erin "Biscuit" Kassoy (Palo Alto, CA)
Melodie "Sweet Pea" Metzger (Berkeley, CA)
Sami "The Flash" Fournier (Washington, D.C.)
Ann "Needs a nickname" Fitzsimmons (Morgan Hill, CA)

Team website:

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