Pescadero, California – With its new status as a UCI-registered women’s cycling team, Team TIBCO/To the Top has added several top-performing international riders as well as a number of younger, up-and-coming riders, to an experienced returning core that includes 2009 U.S. National Road Champion Meredith Miller and 2008 Road and Criterium National Champion Brooke Miller. The team will look to build on its 2009 NRC Championship season, making its first foray into Europe in the spring.
“We set out in 2009 to become the top team in North America and we achieved that goal,” said the team’s founder and Managing Director, Linda Jackson. “For this year, our goals are even higher. We’ll be making our first trip to Europe, always with an eye toward the 2012 London Olympics. We want to build this team into a consistently strong international player this year and next, and develop as many Olympians as possible for 2012.
“We have a lot of proven talent on the roster, and I’m very excited about our younger, developing riders,” she continued. “Team TIBCO/To the Top will be going to all our races – in the U.S. and Europe – to win. Ruth Corset’s win at Australian Road Nationals was made possible by the selfless work of her teammate Emma Mackie. It’s this kind of teamwork that we plan on using to propel us to the top again in 2010.”
The addition of Corset and Mackie bring significant international experience to the team. Though she’s only been racing for four years, Corset has excelled in the sport, receiving the honor of being named Australian Female Cyclist of the Year in 2009. She earned that honor with a stage win at the Route de France, two top five finishes at UCI World Cup races – Montreal and Plouay – and 2nd Overall at the Tour International Feminin en Limousin. She was also 12th at the World Championships, despite suffering several mechanicals. And now she’s started off the 2010 season by winning the Australian national road championship.
“She showed her grit by continually clawing her way back to the front group at Worlds last year and fighting through the heat, cramping and nausea at the national championships last weekend,” said Team TIBCO directeur sportif Jeff Corbett. “She’s a fantastic climber and she’s been working on her time trialing as well. We really want her going well for our European tour.”
Corset’s compatriot Emma Mackie has spent the past four seasons racing the top European races. Despite only being 25, Corbett notes that “she has great race sense from her years racing in Europe. She’s an opportunistic type of rider who can sprint well out of breaks. She’ll also provide another strong engine for our sprint lead-outs.”
New U.S riders are led by veteran Kristen LaSasso, a strong climber and a rider who will take on a lead role for many of the North American stage races. “Kristen is a smart rider who knows how to position herself well in races,” Corbett said. “She had a really good 2009 despite riding with little support.”
LaSasso often rode in support of sprinter Laura Van Gilder last year. However, she showed her strength in hard races by taking third in the U.S. National Road Race Championship. “She was always there in the crits,” Corbett said. “This year we want her focused on stage races.”
Though just shy of her 24th birthday, Rebecca Much has been racing in the pro ranks since 2005. She showed her potential in 2004 when she finished 2nd in the World Junior Time Trial Championship. She’s won a pair of U23 national time trial championships, as well as a U23 cyclocross national championship.
“Rebecca is a strong all-around rider with good potential as a GC rider,” Corbett said. “She’s been more of a domestique on the teams she’s ridden for recently, but she has the potential to deliver good results.”
She’ll be joined by another rising all-around talent, 23-year-old Amanda Miller. Miller is another strong climber, but also very good at criteriums. “She’s continually gaining a tactical sense for racing,” Corbett said. “She understands the game of chess on bikes and is showing the characteristics of a well-rounded rider.”
Team TIBCO also adds two young, up-and-coming sprinters for 2010, Megan Guarnier, 24, and Samantha Schneider, the youngest team member at just 19.
“Megan got some good experience racing with the national team in Europe in 2009,” Corbett said. “She’s hard-nosed and fights for good position for the sprints. Sam is also a really smart rider despite being so young. She also has a way of finding good position in the bunch. Both riders will be looking to develop under Brooke this year, and when Brooke is in Europe, Sam will be getting her chances in the sprints.”
Devon Haskell rounds out the list of new riders for 2010, which will be her first pro season. Though she’s only been racing a few years, Haskell found early success in the college ranks, winning the national championship in 2008.
“She brings another big engine to the team,” Corbett said. “She gained a lot of experience with the national team in 2009, and every year she gets stronger physically and technically. She’s another rider in the mold of Meredith Miller.”
Returning Team TIBCO riders include both Millers, as well as Kiwi standout Joanne Kiesanowski, who finished 3rd overall in the NRC individual points classification, Jerika Hutchinson, Alison Starnes and Ali Rosenthal. Emma Rickards returns in a rider/director role.
U.S. National Road Champion Meredith Miller will captain the team for 2010. Her experience, tactical knowledge and strong, opportunistic riding style will be a critical component to the team this season.
Brooke Miller returned to full health during the summer of 2009 after being slowed by a respiratory illness in the first part of the season. Once she was back, she was nearly unbeatable, closing last season with five straight wins, including a four-race sweep of the Tour of Missouri Women’s Series. She’ll be looking to establish her place as one of the world’s top sprinters in 2010.
Kiesanowski, perhaps the team’s most well-rounded rider, will not only bring her leadership skills, but also give the team a reliable weapon in nearly every race she enters.
Rising star Alison Starnes returns to Team TIBCO/To the Top for 2010. The 24-year-old Starnes continued her rapid development in 2009, her second year of bike racing. Along with taking several impressive solo wins in NorCal races, she began to shine on the national and international stages, finding the podium in several French Cup races with the national team, and finishing 2nd in the Cascade Classic Time Trial stage in July.
“Ali is flat out strong,” Corbett said. “She has a lot of potential and she’s really still learning how to race her bike. She’s shown good instincts already. This year, we want to get her more elite-level race days and teach her how to use her strength wisely.”
Jerika Hutchinson, rounds out the 2010 roster. The three-time U.S. junior national champion and bronze medalist in the 2007 world junior time trial championships, continued her development in 2009. Along with a number of podium appearances in local races, the 19-year-old earned a silver medal in the U23 time trial national championships.
Ryan Bontrager joins the staff as Head Mechanic, and veteran directeur sportif Chris Georgas will manage the team in Europe for the spring campaign that will include top-level UCI races and World Cups in Belgium and Holland, culminating with Tour de L’Aude in France. Georgas raced for several years in Canada, the U.S. and France before turning to coaching and directing. Over the past decade, Georgas has directed Canadian and New Zealand women’s national teams, and several UCI pro Women’s teams in over 20 World Cups and five Tours de L’Aude. He is also currently active in coaching and teaching road and track for the French Federation and USA Cycling.
“When Linda asked me to direct the team in Europe in 2010, I couldn’t resist the opportunity to work with her and the impressive team she and her colleagues have put together,” Georgas said. “I’ve already directed seven of the team’s 14 riders at different times over the past few years and I know the others by reputation. There are no weak links.”
2010 Team TIBCO/To the Top Roster
Ruth Corset, AUS
Megan Guarnier, USA
Devon Haskell, USA
Jerika Hutchinson, USA
Joanne Kiesanowski, NZL
Kristen LaSasso, USA
Emma Mackie, AUS
Amanda Miller, USA
Brooke Miller, USA
Meredith Miller, USA
Emma Rickards, AUS
Alison Rosenthal, USA
Samantha Schneider, USA
Alison Starnes, USA