The Optum Pro Cycling presented by Kelly Benefit Strategies team is taking on cyclocross for the 2012/2013 season. In order to do so, they put together a strong cross squad for its inaugural season which includes a mix of experience and up-and-coming talent. National Racing Calendar (NRC) champion Carmen Small, Jade Wilcoxson, and Optum p/b KBS newcomer Amanda Miller will tackle the grueling US circuit for the women and will be joined by Tristan Schouten, Jesse Anthony, Alex Candelario, and Mike Sherer for the men. Performance Manager Eric Wohlberg will direct both teams this fall.
“Cyclocross is a rapidly growing, fan-friendly, and intense brand of cycling,” said Wohlberg. “It will be great for the thousands of fans on the US circuit to have the Optum p/b KBS team to cheer for. Our rosters should be highly competitive at every race they enter.”
Headlining the team for the men will be Tristan Schouten of Plymouth, WI. Schouten is a regular in the top five on the US Grand Prix cyclocross circuit and has previously represented the US at the World Championships and Pan-Am Games. He brings 16 years of experience to the team and has his sights set on a podium at the US National Championship this season, taking place for the second consecutive year in Madison, his home state’s capitol city.(Learn more about Schouten: Working Man Schouten Racing At The Front)
“We are very pleased to bring Tristan to the Optum p/b KBS family,” said Wohlberg. “He clearly has the pedigree to bring home results and will be a fine ambassador for all of our partners at some of America’s premier ‘cross races.”
Unable to resist the pull of a discipline he mastered as a junior, Jesse Anthony will return to the mud for a limited schedule. The 2-time U23 USGP Champion, 7-time National Champion and 4-time World Team member made a tough decision last year to focus all of his energy into developing as a road rider, but looks forward to returning to a sport he is still passionate about. (Read more about Anthony: Focus On the Road For Anthony)
“As of last fall, I limited my cyclocross racing in order to focus on the road, but I will always be a ‘crosser at heart,” said Anthony. “Racing in the dirt is just too much fun to give up forever. I’m extremely pleased that our team has launched a ‘cross program, and the opportunity to race the circuit in the orange and black was too good to pass up.”
Rounding out the men’s team will be Candelario, who has been racing and raising money on the ‘cross circuit in recent years under the World Bicycle Relief flag, and Sherer, who is a four-time state champion in Indiana and Illinois.
Potent Duo of Small, Wilcoxson Will Tackle Women’s Circuit
NRC champion Carmen Small will join 3rd place NRC finisher Jade Wilcoxson and Amanda Miller on the women’s team.
Miller, an Iowa native who resides in Fort Collins, CO, brings considerable experience from a cyclocross career which began in 2005. A steady progression of Amanda’s abilities led to four wins in her last cross season in 2010.
“Amanda was an easy choice for us when we began scouting for cross,” said Wohlberg. “She is a great bike handler on and off the road and she’s clearly just going faster and faster as the years pass by.”
Small and Wilcoxson, coming off a road season that saw their team amass over thirty wins and the NRC individual and team titles, will race ‘cross professionally for the first time in their careers. (Read more about Wilcoxson: Wilcoxson – “My goals coming into the season was to have fun with racing and to be a great team mate.”)
“While Carmen and Jade have not raced a lot of cross in the past, there’s no question they will be successful,” said Wohlberg. “Carmen had a superb road season and Jade was the revelation of women’s cycling in North America this year. It seems to me whatever they do, they do it well.”
The racing calendar will focus on the USGP series and various UCI races in the US, leading up to the national championships in Madison. With the world championships taking place in Louisville, KY this year (the first running of the race on American soil), it will undoubtedly be another major goal in the program’s first year to feature athletes on the US world championship team.
2012/2013 Optum p/b KBS Cyclocross Team:
- Jesse Anthony
- Alex Candelario
- Tristan Schouten
- Mike Sherer
- Amanda Miller
- Carmen Small
- Jade Wilcoxson
- Eric Wohlberg – Cross Manager
- Daimeon Shanks – Cross Mechanic
2012/2013 Optum p/b KBS Cyclocross Calendar:
- Sept 16: Nittany Lion Cross – Breinigsville, PA
- Set 22, 23: The Planet Bike Cup USGP – Sun Prairie, WI
- Sept 26: The Gateway Cross Cup – St. Louis, MO
- Sept 29, 30: NEPCX – Gran Prix of Gloucester – Gloucester, MA
- October 6-7: NEPCX – Providence Cyclo-cross Festival – Providence, RI
- Oct 13,14: The Fort Collins Cup USGP – Ft. Collins, CO
- Oct 20,21: Spooky Cross – Irvine, CA
- Oct 27,28: Boulder Cup – Boulder, CO
- Nov 2,3,4: Cincy3 Cyclocross Festival – Cincinnati, OH
- Nov 10,11: The Derby City Cup USGP – Louisville, KY
- Nov 16, 17, 18: The Jingle Cross Rock, Iowa City, IA
- Dec 8,9: The Deschutes Brewery Cup USGP – Bend, OR
- Jan 5,6: Chicago Cyclocross Cup New Year’s Resolution – Bloomingdale, IL
- Jan 12, 13: American National Championships – Madison, WI