Notes from the road: Sailing Buicks, Navigators and a new Endeavour

Page 2 news in my local paper yesterday was the story of the 11 Cubans who tried to sail to the U.S. in a 1959 Buick. They had sealed shut the car’s doors and added a double bottom, bow and propeller. However, they were intercepted on their 90-mile journey to Florida by a U.S. Coast Guard vessel, and it was unclear whether they would be allowed to stay in the U.S. or be returned to Cuba. This wasn’t the first attempt for some of them. Some members of the group were intercepted by the Coast Guard last July, trying to make the journey in a 1951 Chevy pickup converted into a boat with

By Bryan Jew, VeloNews managing editor

Page 2 news in my local paper yesterday was the story of the 11 Cubans who tried to sail to the U.S. in a 1959 Buick. They had sealed shut the car’s doors and added a double bottom, bow and propeller. However, they were intercepted on their 90-mile journey to Florida by a U.S. Coast Guard vessel, and it was unclear whether they would be allowed to stay in the U.S. or be returned to Cuba.

This wasn’t the first attempt for some of them. Some members of the group were intercepted by the Coast Guard last July, trying to make the journey in a 1951 Chevy pickup converted into a boat with 55-gallon-drum pontoons attached to the sides.

Now, I don’t want to touch off a raging immigration debate on VN.com, but in my book, if you can make a boat out of a 1959 Buick, there’s got to be a place for you in the U.S. Even if it is only on “Monster Garage.”

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Unfortunately, Page 1 news that day was still something about a boob. (Insert joke here.)

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Three weeks ago I commented, tongue in cheek, on the Navigators officially changing their team name to the Navigators Insurance Cycling Team. When you think about team identity, though, it makes sense. Once, someone in the team told me that a charitable group had contacted them, asking if they had any used Navigators to donate at the end of the season. Hopefully, Navigators Insurance Cycling Team clears that all up, even if it does come a decade after the team’s inception. That’s right, the Navs are celebrating their 10th anniversary this season.

When you think about long-running teams, they might not be the first to pop to mind — Saturn, Shaklee, Postal, Mercury always seem to get mention — but here it is in black-and-white: Navigators Insurance is the longest continuing sponsor of any U.S. pro team. The Navigators first registered as a UCI pro team in 1994, only one year after Saturn’s first season as a pro team, and two years before the Montgomery team became U.S. Postal Service. And outside of Postal, no one’s even close. With Saturn (pro in 1993) and 7UP (pro in 2000) both leaving the game, the next longest running sponsorship is Jelly Belly, which began in 2000. And after that, it’s Jittery Joe’s, OFOTO-Lombardi Sports and Sierra Nevada, all Class of ’02.

So, to help ring in the Navs 10th anniversary year, here’s a list of notable alumni, first published in VeloNews in 2002 after Mark Walter’s USPRO Championship victory, the team’s most notable to date, and tweaked just a bit after some recent departures.

Phil Cable
Matt Koschara
Mike Engleman
Scott Moninger
Robbie Ventura
Elliot Hubbard
Trent Klasna
Paul Martin
Jon Hamblen
Adham Sbeih
Chris Wherry
Todd Littlehales

General manager Ray Cipollini and team director Ed Beamon have been at the helm the entire time. And while Saturn finally pulled the plug at the end of last year, things are still looking good for Cipollini and Beamon. After kicking off the season at the Tour Down Under, for the second straight year they’re conducting their team camp in Italy through February 11, and continue to make inroads into the European race circuit. The team’s first European race of the season is Sunday’s GP Costa Degli Etruschi.

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While Saturn may be history, the team’s parent company, Team Sports, has announced a new 10-man development squad for 2004. Team Sports issued a press release yesterday:

Team Sports announced today that they will be managing the Endeavour Cycling Team for the 2004 racing season.

The Endeavour team will focus on the season-long NRC calendar and serve as a true development team for the 10-man squad. Some of the best Midwest racers along with a combination of former Saturn Development Team racers, Timmy Reinhart and Carlos Vargas, will highlight the 2004 roster, which includes:

Frank Pipp
Earendel Fingerson
Todd Hancock
Billy Jones
Ben Lund
Todd Miller
Timmy Reinhart
Nick Reistad
Bryan Smith
Carlos Vargas

The Endeavour Cycling Club continues its mission to support cycling-related activities in the Milwaukee area and to promote and showcase the team’s sponsors for a third season.

The Endeavour Group is a national real-estate-development company located in the city of Milwaukee, formed for the purpose of developing catalytic residential commercial and institutional project in urban marketplaces. Over the last three-years, Endeavour has been engaged in over fifteen cities with involvement in over 250 projects.

The Endeavour Cycling Team will be supported by Ticket King, Honda City, Orbea bicycles, Borah and customsublimation.com, and Mavic. The Endeavour Cycling Team will kick off the season at a training camp during the McLane Pacific in Merced, CA on March 13-14 and will continue to race in the NRC calendar through the rest of the season.