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Unlike other small Continental teams, Illuminate rides in black kit, devoid of sponsor logos. The American team, known as Airgas – Safeway last season, is in its third year, and is off to an impressive start. Illuminate riders won two national championships and two gold medals at the track world championships so far in 2016. The team’s Australian brothers, Miles and Callum Scotson, were members of the team pursuit squad that beat Bradley Wiggins and team GB to take gold by less than one second. But why the plain black jersey?
“The way the sport of professional cycling is currently presented seems very disconnected from why people actually ride bikes,” said team director Chris Johnson, explaining his squad’s kit. “I want to release from the typical model, where teams are named after companies and the riders are drenched in logos.
“Every rider on the team has a story about how the bicycle has changed them, and when you remove the traditional marketing model, it allows them to reflect on what the bicycle really means to them.”
At the Colombian national championship road race at the end of February, Illuminate rider Edwin Avila won ahead of Movistar riders Winner Anacona and Nairo Quintana. Avila, who raced for Team Colombia until it disbanded last season, gave Illuminate its second national championship of the season.
In the Southern Hemisphere, Scotson brothers were first and second at January’s Australian under-23 individual time trial national championships. Two days later, Miles, 22, went on to win the bronze medal in the under-23 road race.
“The success has been pretty unreal,” Johnson said. “It’s great to see the riders excel and the results have really motivated everyone involved in the project.”
Flavio de Luna, is the third national champion on the team, having won Mexico’s time trial title last season.
The California-based team wasn’t invited to the Tour of California in May or the Tour of Utah in August, but is aiming to participate in the latter, since four team invites are yet to be confirmed. Illuminate staff hopes that the team’s strong showing in Tour of Taiwan will earn it a Utah invite. In Taiwan, Alexander Ray finished sixth overall and the team put riders on the podium in stages 1 and 4.
The team returned to the States after Taiwan and will take some time to prepare for its first domestic race in April, the Redlands Bicycle Classic.