By VeloNews Interactive
The Jelly Belly cycling team announced its 2001 line-up on Thursday, and the squad features several youthful additions. Eddy Gragus will once again head the team, joined by returning riders Kirk Albers, Norm Carter and Mariano Friedick. The newcomers are Brad Buccambuso, Jonathan Erdelyi, Damon Kluck and Jason McCartney.
“Brad and Jonathan did well in the espoirs ranks, both in the U.S. and abroad; Damon was riding on his own all season, yet still placed consistently in the top 20 or 25 in NRC events; and Jason is a very aggressive rider who impressed our guys at Killington. Combined with the return of Eddy and the other guys, and Mariano concentrating on the road all year, I think we’ve got the potential to really surprise people,” team director Danny Van Haute said in a Jelly Belly press release.
The full press release follows:
At the end of an off-season rife with change for the better, the Jelly Belly Cycling Team released its 2001 lineup today. The changes on the bike are the most evident, with a quartet of new riders joining a core group of holdovers from last year’s inaugural Jelly Belly squad. The team is led once again by Eddy Gragus, who followed up his overall victory in the ’99 Saturn U.S. PRO Tour with another strong campaign, highlighted by a win in the First Union Rolling Rock Hill Climb, as well as second in the Tour of the Gila, the BMC Tour of San Jose, and the Fitchburg Classic. Other returning riders include Kirk Albers, Norm Carter, and 2000 U.S. Olympian Mariano Friedick. To this solid base, team director Danny Van Haute has added talented youngsters Brad Buccambuso, Jonathan Erdelyi, Damon Kluck, and Jason McCartney. The result is what Van Haute characterizes as “a much stronger team than last year. Brad and Jonathan did well in the espoirs ranks, both in the U.S. and abroad; Damon was riding on his own all season, yet still placed consistently in the top 20 or 25 in NRC events; and Jason is a very aggressive rider who impressed our guys at Killington. Combined with the return of Eddy and the other guys, and Mariano concentrating on the road all year, I think we’ve got the potential to really surprise people.” One thing that won’t surprise people is the team’s goals: with a schedule focused on the National Racing Calendar, the Jelly Belly Cycling Team is hoping to do particularly well in the Solano Cycling Classic (Jelly Belly’s corporate HQ is located nearby), the First Union week (particularly the Rolling Rock Hill Climb and the PRO Championship’s King of the Wall competition), and the Criterium & Time Trial Nationals. There have been some changes off the bike as well for Jelly Belly, both in terms of sponsorship and associated club membership. While the lion’s share of Jelly Belly’s 2000 sponsors have returned- including Lexus automobiles and Specialized bicycles- the team also welcomes several new partners. Adidas will be supplying the team with both racing shoes and a full range of leisure clothing, while Festina Watches and Verizon Wireless Communications have also come on board for 2001. The team is also, in association with its parent club, Team Redlands, instituting a ‘satellite club’ system nationwide. Says Van Haute: “What we’re hoping to do is something like what the Chevrolet/L.A. Sheriffs team did in the early 1990’s, where they had associated clubs all across the country. We’ve already got our first one in place in Phoenix, Arizona, and are hoping to have five by the end of the year.” Satellite club members would receive the same benefits as Team Redlands members, including Pro deals on products from team sponsors; they would also wear the same uniform as the Jelly Belly team members. It’s part of a program to get the Jelly Belly Cycling Team more involved with Team Redlands and its club membership. The team will be participating in club rides in San Diego on February 24th and 25th, and in Redlands, California on March 3rd and 4th. The Jelly Belly Cycling Team training camp will be held in San Diego from February 20th to March 5th.