FRANCORCHAMPS, Belgium (VN) – Chris Baldwin is back to earning a paycheck and just in time to build up for a race he’s dreamt about his entire career. A week after missing out on the overall at the Redlands Classic by one second, Bissell Pro Cycling added the two-time national time trial champion to their roster Friday.
“Chris is a fierce competitor every time he lines up,” said team manager Glen Mitchell. “He is experienced and very motivated. His presence on Team Bissell for 2011 is exciting news.”
Riding for domestic elite squad Juwi Solar-First Solar, Baldwin finished third behind his soon-to-be teammate Ben Jacques-Maynes at Redlands. The result was Baldwin’s first NRC stage race podium in more than two years. He had planned to sign with V Australia for 2011, but had not inked the contract when Pegasus Racing collapsed in December. Team owner Chris White was forced to pull the offer in order to house as many of his Pegasus riders as possible on the U.S.-based Continental team.
“(My wife) Kimberly looked in my eyes and said she knew I wasn’t done, that I needed to capitalize on all of my hard work,” Baldwin told VeloNews. “I reached out to every team in America and couldn’t find anything.”
That changed after Baldwin showed his best form since 2008 at Redlands, attacking the yellow jersey group repeatedly on the final stage Sunset Road Race.
“How my body feels is most important. If I’m fit then the mental follows,” said Baldwin. “I could tell (at Redlands) it’s back.”
In a release, his new team said “Baldwin’s combination of talent and leadership makes him a great asset to Bissell, and adds power to the team’s already dominant roster. His ability to perform at high altitudes and tenacity in long breakaways will provide even more depth to Bissell’s already impressive 2011 team.”
Baldwin will join Bissell first at the Tour or the Gila next week and continue on to the Mt. Hood Cycling Classic. He said last week that just earning a roster place for the USA Pro Cycling Challenge (formerly known as the Quiznos Pro Challenge) in Colorado in August was his top priority.
“I don’t want to say I have a goal of a placing or anything,” he said. “My singular goal is to be at the start of the USAPCC. It’s a dream come true for a lot of us to have a race like this in our backyard. I’ve been waiting my whole career.”