“I’m happy, all the sponsors are happy. “ replied DS Danny Van Haute when asked he was satisfied at the start of the eighth and final stage of the Amgen Tour of California.
He continued, “I know people from the outside if they look at the results, I know the results are not there yet. As you know, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday we were in the break, we got a lot of media coverage from that. Jelly Belly p/b Kenda is a friendly team to all our fans, you see them, we have a product that we can give to them, we’re going to do the best we can, we’re happy we’re happy.”
Eight riders, Kiel Reijnen, Will Routley, Will Dickeson, Jonathan Chodroff, Jeremy Powers, Mike Friedman, Bernard van Ulden and Sean Mazich started the race and had something to prove, that the 2010 version of the team was a force to be reckoned with at races.
And they did get attention, animating the race, going into long break after long break. First it was Friedman on the cold and rainy stage 2. Then it was Routley rode hard with a five-man breakaway and then attacked again to take the solo lead for three miles during stage 3. Routley was then awarded the Most Courageous Rider jersey.
And on and on. Stage 4 was Powers’ turn. He jumped on an early breakaway and pedaled strong out front for more than 100 miles. Not to be undone, Dickeson rmade his way into a six-rider break on stage 5, making it the fourth straight day that Jelly Belly p/b Kenda had put a rider in the front group.
“As a team effort, it’s been great. To get into breaks like we have, the whole team has to be aggressive, we have to cover every single move and after the second day we had a bit of bad luck and GC was out so we decided to make it a really aggressive race and be represented everywhere we could.” said Reijnen.
“Yes,” replied Van Haute when asked if his team proved anything at the race. “I think we rolled some eyes out there, yes I do. I think our guys are not disappointed, they’re happy with the way they rode, shoot everyday you’re in the break for 100 miles. It’s going to hurt you after awhile, it’s taken its toll a little bit.”
Hurt it did with only Powers and Reijnen finishing the race.
“There was no day that was easy at this race, every day had a serious climb with ProTour riders, the whole combination has made it for a hard week as you can see with the amount of guys finishing, it was a hard week. “ said Powers. “The race was just very aggressive,” he then added with a smile, “we’re going alright.”
Reijnen did have GC ambitions coming into the race but had to readjust after the first day. “I came here to do more damage on the GC, I can’t say that I’m totally disappointed that I didn’t do that because it’s been such a successful season so far and our travel over seas took a toll.”
Prior to California, Reijnen and his teammates traveled to the Tour of Thailand and the Tour of Korea where they won the overall. He added, “Maybe we could have come here with a bit fresher form but at the same time,we had the yellow jersey and we had to defend it. I wouldn’t trade that for being a top 15 here.”
“That’s another thing I can say about my race here, I’m still racing and there are a lot of guys who aren’t. Just about 80 guys left in the race and some really big names have suffered at this race or dropped out of this race. Just to still be here fighting even though I’m not feeling 100 percent is good start.” concluded Reijnen.
It’s a good thing. Van Haute was quite pleased with the race moving to May. “We thought we prepared much better. A February race for the last four years, we had a training camp and then right to Amgen Tour of California. Now, we did Tour of Korea, Tour of Thailand, Redlands Bicycle Classic, the guys were ready. We were ready to do some damage, that was our thought coming into this race and it still is. My new way of racing this year, we’re not going to be pack fillers, we’re going to be aggressive, smartly though and put our butts out there and make some waves.”
Powers agreed. “It’s been real good, the last time I did it we were freezing. I did it with Paolo Bettini and I remember him being upset, you know it was cold and miserable when the World Champion at that time is really miserable. I would say that the move to May has been great, it wasn’t super hot, it was mild for most of the stages, we got a little rain but you’re going to get that anywhere you go. I would say that I’m pretty psyched with it overall.”