Jelly Belly p/b Kenda ready for USA Pro Cycling Challenge
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Sunday, August 21, 2011

Jelly Belly p/b Kenda ready for USA Pro Cycling Challenge

by Kyle Moore at 6:55 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
Altitude a big factor in pre-race training camp

Ken HansonAmerican continental team Jelly Belly p/b Kenda spent the last two weeks in the high mountains of Colorado, getting ready for one of the biggest races of the season for the team. The American squad carries a modest budget and just thirteen riders, but they have been serious in their preparations for the inaugural USA Pro Cycling Challenge.

Season highlights for Jelly Belly p/b Kenda include a participation in the Tour of Korea, where Ken Hanson (right) picked up a win on stage nine. The long-running team has also raced the Amgen Tour of California, the Philadelphia Grand Prix, and the Tour of Elk Grove.

To prepare for the high altitude race that begins tomorrow, the team sent riders to Colorado two weeks before the start in order to get valuable miles at altitude and to adjust to the climate. “We don’t want to go blindly into the race,” team director Danny Van Haute remarked last week. “We want to give as much advantage to our riders as we can.”

Jelly Belly p/b Kenda sends seven Americans and one Canadian to the Challenge, and riders experienced varying levels of difficulty when subjected to the altitude, which will reach nearly 4000 meters at times. “For me, the adjustment has been quite typical – really feeling the third or fourth days,” Nic Hamilton, the team’s lone Canadian in Colorado, explained. “Just stairs can be a challenge. I have slowly adapted to the elevation. I have felt much better climbing a pass over 12,000 feet,” Hamilton added.

“Mentally, all the guys are in the right place as we are preparing. As individuals, we are taking all the right steps, but more importantly, as a team we are taking all the right steps to accomplish our goals at the race.”

For a modestly-supported team, accommodations sometimes run a bit differently than a big-budget European team. During the training camp, they were hosted by a long-time fan of the team, John Sladek, in Evergreen, Colorado.

No matter the type of team, the importance of the altitude training could not be undersold. “This camp is very important for us to have in order for us to be competitive at the USA Pro Cycling Challenge,” Van Haute continued.

“You just can’t come into this race without doing something at altitude. As soon as we received the invitation we put our plan together, and there was no question that we had to come to Colorado early to get ready for this great event.”

Sean Mazich, a 25-year-old American in his second year with the squad, understands the importance of the exposure the much-hyped race could provide. Mazich crashed during the Elk Grove race at the beginning of August, and though he was confined to the trainer during much of the camp, he expects to take the start tomorrow. “I’m going crazy because we’re in such a beautiful place with some of the best riding in the world,” he acknowledged. “I’m still very much looking forward to the race and believe I can get healthy in time to do it and do well in it.”

Jelly Belly p/b Kenda for the USA Pro Cycling Challenge:

Sean Mazich, Sergio Hernandez, Emerson Oronte, Nic Hamilton, Jeremy Powers, Ken Hanson, Alex Hagman, Bernard van Ulden


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