Three-time U.S. professional champion “Fast Freddie” Rodriguez has returned to the professional ranks after signing a contract with UCI Continental team Jelly Belly-Kenda for the remainder of 2013. Rodriguez began the season riding with the elite Predator Carbon Repair team, but made the jump back to the pro ranks with an eye for the major North American tours.
“We’re more than excited to obtain Fred Rodriguez and have him part of the team for the remainder of the season,” team boss Danny Van Haute said in a press release. “Fred’s experience and leadership will be a huge asset for Team Jelly Belly-Kenda, not to mention he’s a great bike rider who will no doubt garner great results.”
Rodriguez has bounced around over the last half-decade after leaving the European peloton a Giro d’Italia stage winner, a runner-up at the Milano-Sanremo classic, and a prolific leadout man for Robbie McEwen at Lotto. He rode with the men’s Exergy team in 2012, but was without a job when that team folded late in the year.
“After dialogue with several teams, I decided Jelly Belly was a good fit,” said Rodriguez in a press release. “There are a lot of things this team does both on and off the bike that makes sense for me at this stage of my career. The team has been a staple of American racing for more than a decade and I admire that stability. Plus, Jelly Belly Candy Company is a great company with great values to support.”
Van Haute expects Rodriguez, 39, to team up with Brad Huff to create a one-two punch in the bunch finishes. Rodriguez will make his Jelly Belly debut at the USA Cycling Professional Road National Championships in Chatanooga, Tennessee, later this month.