The longest running title sponsor in US cycling is back for more. The Jelly Belly Candy Company will continue to sponsor the UCI Continental Men’s team through the end of 2013. Also renewing sponsorships are presenting sponsor Kenda Tires, Bicycle sponsor Focus, apparel sponsor Pactimo, and long-time eyewear and helmet sponsor Rudy Project.
“I’m excited to start next season with so much support from our loyal sponsors,” said team director Danny Van Haute in team press release. “I appreciate their enthusiasm for this organization and am committed to delivering the results they expect.”
After its best season ever in 2010, the Jelly Belly p/b Kenda team struggled to find itself the first half of this year with seven new riders on its 13-rider squad. It was evident at the Amgen Tour of California where the team turned heads the previous year by their aggressive riding but this year things were not clicking.
“ I haven’t put it at all together yet but thinking bits & pieces of what happened to our team at the Amgen Tour of California. A little disappointed but there were some good things and a little bit of bad luck but that’s racing.” a disappointed Van Haute told podiuminsight on the final day of the Amgen Tour of California.
But things started to turn around. Ken Hanson finished seventh at US Pro Road Championships followed by a fourth at the TD International Championships where Alex Hagman won the overall KOM after fighting in the early break. Hanson won a stage and finished second overall at Tulsa Tough. After Bernard Van Ulden took the victory on an explosive stage at Nature Valley Grand Prix, the team worked together to deliver him to second overall.
The team had more ups and downs in Colorado. Neo-pro Hagman placed 31st over at the USA Pro Cycling Challenge. “For a first-year professional at his second big tour of the year, this was a good result for the team and Alex.” Van Haute said at the end of the race.
The team tried to actively get into breaks every day with both Will Dickeson and Jeremy Powers putting in lots of miles off the front for three stages. The downs were when Sergio Hernandez broke his shoulder in a crash.
“I was very happy with what the team did this year in Colorado, but we have lots of work to do for next season.” Van Haute added.
That brings us to next season. Nine of the riders will be returning, including eight-year team veteran Powers and four-year team veteran sprinter Brad Huff. Hernandez, Dickeson and Sean Mazich will also be back for their third seasons, as will 2011 neo-pros Hagman, Nic Hamilton and Emerson Oronte.
The 28-year old Powers, who has spent his entire pro road career with Jelly Belly, stated in the team release, “Being part of this organization has taught me how to deliver results on the bike and how to represent my sponsors off the bike. The experience has helped me become who I am today as a competitor and an ambassador.”
Joining the organization in 2012 will be climber Scott Stewart from Team Type 1 and Ricardo van der Velde, a talented young rider who is optimistic that the Jelly Belly program will provide him with the opportunity to develop as a rider. The 24-year old van der Velde spent two years with the Garmin organization before joining the Belgian Continental team Donckers Koffie – Jelly Belly last year.
Also new to the squad will be two neo-pros: Menso de Jong, whose climbing skills served him well on the collegiate mountain bike circuit this year, and Luis Enrique Davila, a promising climber from the Mexican U23 National Team.
2011 was a rebuilding year for the team after several of the young talents Van Haute developed moved on to bigger teams at the end of 2010. Such riders that departed included Will Routley, Kiel Reijnen and Carter Jones.
“We could have used more climbers and time trial specialists in this year’s roster, so my objective going into next year is to improve those areas,” Van Haute said.
Another loss will be Van Ulden who is retiring at the end of this year. The 32-year old time trial specialist finished third twice on the USA Pro Time Trial Championships, in 2010 and in 2005 (after results were adjusted).
“The team will lose one of the best time trial riders in the country when Bernard van Ulden retires at the end of the 2011 season,” said Van Haute. “I have high hopes that Ricardo van der Velde can step up and deliver strong time trial results for us next year.”
Jelly Belly p/b Kenda 2012 Roster
- Luis Enrigue Davila (MEX)
- Menso de Jong (USA), 22
- Will Dickeson (AUS), 28
- Alex Hagman (USA), 27
- Nic Hamilton (CAN), 25
- Sergio Hernandez (USA), 26
- Brad Huff (USA), 32
- Sean Mazich (USA), 25
- Emerson Oronte (USA), 21
- Jeremy Powers (USA), 28
- Scott Stewart (USA), 24
- Ricardo van der Velde (NED), 24