Heading into its 11th season, Jelly Belly presented by Kenda set up camp once again at the golfing community of Lake San Marcos in Southern California. Five Jelly Belly veterans returned this year with a mix of seasoned pros and two amateurs joining the team for 2010.
Riders and staff arrived on Tuesday, February 17, and visited the Stone Brewing Company, makers of Arrogant Bastard Ale, for dinner, some tasty brew and a chance for veterans and newcomers to socialize.
Jeremy Powers is heading into his seventh year with the team. But while the rest of the team will be logging valuable base miles,the 27-year-old from New England will be taking a few weeks off to recharge his batteries after months of racing cyclocross. (Check out a complete Photo Gallery)
Expectations are high with newly signed riders like Mike Friedman from Garmin-Transitions and three-year Colavita-Sutter Home rider Anthony Colby. There are also a few relatively unknown riders with potential such as Jonathan Chodroff, who won the overall at the 2010 Valley of the Sun Stage Race in Arizona and Jacob Rathe, who the coaches at USA Cycling are saying could be the next big thing in American cycling, according to team director Danny Van Haute.
Jelly Belly is the longest running title sponsor for a pro team in the U.S. and the squad has had the opportunity to compete at the highest levels at home and in Europe.
“Jelly Belly has 11 years with this sport. They’ve been through the turmoil, the ups and downs,” says Friedman.
Twenty-three-year old Kiel Reijnen is heading into his third season with the team and he’s hoping for success abroad. In 2009, Reijnen was close to success at the Tour of Qinghai Lake before falling ill in the final days. This year he’s hoping to be a GC contender at the race, which is known for its strenuous conditions above 10,000 feet, variable weather and often unavoidable food poisoning.
“I’m going back to Qinghai to win,” says Reijnen. “Here in the U.S., I want to be an asset to the team, to the group of core guys. I want to do some damage at races like Missouri and California where breakaways can stay away.”
Jelly Belly has a good balance of sprint specialists and a couple of strong time trial riders who could be serious GC contenders. Thirty-year-old Bernard Van Ulden, from California’s Bay Area, finished fifth overall at the Jayco Herald Sun Tour , proving that he has what it takes to compete with the best for an overall win.
“Last year we had a quiet season but a lot of that was based on health issues,” said Van Ulden. “We have Brad and Mike for the sprints. Guys like Will (Routley) who can be a good overall GC leader. And Chodroff just won the Valley of the Sun. If everyone is healthy it should be interesting to see what we can do.”
Perhaps the most anticipated addition is former ProTour rider Friedman. At Garmin-Transitions he was expected to be a workhorse for the more prominent riders on the team. He learned valuable lessons abroad, and coming onto a smaller domestic team opens up opportunities for him to hunt for his own podium finishes.
“I definitely have a different mentality for preparation this year,” says Friedman. “I’m coming into the season really focused and excited. I’m ready for the challenge to put my name onto the winning board instead of the domestique board.”
Despite his desire for the podium, Friedman is anything but selfish. He’s also thrilled to be back with Brad Huff, as they were teammates on Garmin-Transitions as the program was just getting started.
“I’ve always said it, I’ve seen Brad sprint at his top form and I’ve seen him at his lowest,” said Friedman. “When he’s at his top form he could be Cavendish, Farrar — I know he can, I’ve seen it. And not too many people believe that because Brad has only shown that a handful of times — if that — or he’s crashed trying.
“He’s got this reputation of being a dangerous rider. It’s not that he’s taking unnecessary risks; it’s just that most other riders wouldn’t take those risks. It looks like he might be out of control but he’s in total control of his bike. I’m really excited to be here because I know how to get Brad’s mind back into the game. I just tell him, ‘Relax, relax, you’ll get to the line, everyone else is hurting.’ And once he gets within 200m he’s the fastest man in the U.S.”
Huff is too modest to speak of himself as highly as Friedman does, but he’s not afraid to show his enthusiasm for the new program. “This is my third year with Jelly Belly. I turned pro with Mike Friedman five years ago. This year seems to be the best that the team has been. The sponsors are really getting behind the team and I definitely see a lot of potential.”
Anthony Colby, the 31-year old climber from Durango, Colorado, had a bumpy season with Colavita-Sutter Home in 2009 due to injury, but he should prove a valuable asset by early summer. He showed at the 2007 Tour of Missouri that he could compete with the best when he claimed second place overall in the KOM competition. With his body back on the right track he should be able to improve upon his successes in 2010.
2010 Jelly Belly presented by Kenda Roster
• Anthony Colby (new)
• Bernard van Ulden
• Brad Huff
• Carter Jones (new)
• Jacob Rathe (new)
• Jeremy Powers
• Jonathon Chodroff (new)
• Kiel Reijnen
• Mike Friedman (new)
• Sean Mazich (new)
• Will Dickeson (new)
• Will Routley