Alex Hagman and Cesar Grajales put on a show in the Wasatch Mountains in August and their Tour of Utah results for the On The Rivet amateur team appear to have landed that program a big-time sponsor for 2011. The OTR management team announced this week that they will tackle the 2011 domestic circuit with a UCI Continental team under the name Team Realcyclist.com.
Canadian sprinter Gord Fraser, who spent 2010 behind the steering wheel for UnitedHealthcare-Maxxis, will direct the new squad. Fraser told VeloNews that while he was disappointed to be out of the UHC fold going forward, he was excited to have a leadership role in the new program. “I’m looking forward to the new opportunities,” he said. “I’m looking forward to shaping the team to what I want.”
Riders played coy in August about potential sponsors they were entertaining in Utah. At the time, Grajales and Hagman each confirmed that the race was a major sponsorship push and they succeeded in landing Salt Lake City based Realcyclist.com, a member of the Backcountry.com family of brands.
In a press release, the team announced that they are “currently in discussions with Spanish stage-racing star Francisco Mancebo Perez to captain the squad.” In defense of his 2009 title, Mancebo finished second overall in Utah to Levi Leipheimer in August. Mancebo and Grajales are close friends and the prospect of the two-time Vuelta a Espana podium finisher landing on the Dahlonega, Georgia, based team is real.
Fraser would not release details of the roster, but his former Healthnet teammate Nathan O’Neill recruited the OTR team of Jason Kriel and Josh Saint to take the helm of the sinking Bahati Foundation ship in June. Fraser was quick to squelch any connection with the embattled program that folded midway through the season.
“It’s important that we divorce ourselves from the Bahati legacy as quickly as possible,” said Fraser.
Grajales has a history with Kriel and Saint as well, and he was confident in his future with the team in August. Fraser admitted that the program has come together late in the signing period and Hagman confirmed that he will move to Jelly Belly-Kenda in 2011.
Also gone is Rick Crawford, who masterminded the sporting side of the Bahati team. Crawford will join the Garmin U23 squad for 2011 and Fraser said his recommendation paid dividends in earning the Canadian his first primary director’s role.
Fraser expected to announce the team’s roster in a few weeks and that management is currently putting together a race calendar.
“We haven’t ironed out the schedule or goals yet,” he said. “We’ll be at as many NRC races as possible and we’ll take a look at the major races like Utah and Quiznos and see what makes sense for us.”
Grajales and Kriel were not immediately available for comment.