Saturday, December 10, 2016

North American Devo: CCB Velotooler

With the 2nd installment of this coupling, one of the oldest cycling clubs in America is making the move towards the continental level while working on a tight budget. Based out of Boston, CCB has been a club for nearly 40 years and will face a test trying to compete on the continental level while managing a budget of under $100,000 for the whole season. For 2017, the team will be known as CCB Velotooler and like Aevolo, the U23 riders will be either in college or graduate school but unlike Aevolo, the team is not strictly a U23 squad. As the riders will receive no salary, it is basically an elite amateur team with a UCI license. For more of the details about the project, Fred Dreier from VeloNews had a good article.

With many riders in college, the bulk of the team’s schedule will be done between May and August while riders will obviously target collegiate and amateur races across the Eastern seaboard of the US throughout the season. I am interested to see how well they are able to compete with other continental teams in American UCI races because they are a development team but they definitely should be able to mix it up in regional races as well as on the criterium circuit.

The UCI roster will feature 13 riders while there will be a few other first year U23 “development riders” that will be on the club level that will most likely join the pro team at different points. 

The UCI roster will include: Cameron Beard, Patrick Collins, Ansel Dickey, Noah Granigan, John Harris, Jonah Mead-VanCort, Nate Morse, Spencer Petrov, Sam Rosenholtz, Jake Sitler, Antti Sizko, Cory Small and Cooper Willsley. Josh Anderson, Ian Clarke and Wyatt Goral are the said “development riders” that are on the club team and will join the pro team at various points.

Cameron Beard is more known for his cyclocross with top rides across his junior and now senior career with a smattering of top 10 finishes in elite races and U23 races this year. He isn’t just a dirt monger either as he finished high in the Junior Peace Race (Zavod Miru) where teammate Chris Blevins won the overall while also finishing 6th overall in the Driedaagse van Axel behind Swiss Stefan Bisseger, who is the junior world record holder in the 3km individual pursuit. A good all-around rider that is a good time trialist, a good climber as well as having that short burst power that top cyclocross riders possess.

Patrick Collins has been on a diet of New England races the past few years and will be looking to move up to the next level on the road side of things. He is also a strong cyclocross rider with majority of his finishes in UCI races coming between 15th and 20th. 

The Kombucha-loving Ansel Dickey is another that is looking to hit a new level in his final U23 season. Dickey has gotten some of his best results in criteriums as he was 2nd in the U23 National Criterium in 2015 while with Cal Giant but he doesn't have a resume-making result quite yet. Also a coach, Dickey could benefit from the bolstered crit squad that CCB Velotooler will be bringing. 

New Jersey native Noah Granigan is another rider that has had success in criteriums, mainly ones in stage races, however he seems to have the endurance for longer one-day races that is stronger than some of the other U23s on the team. Races like Winston-Salem, U23 Nationals and Reading could be targets especially with a stronger team. 

Connecticut’s John Harris has been another rider kicking it around New England as well as some choice criteriums the past few seasons. He was never on the National team but he has plugged away including top 15 places in Wilmington, Iron Hill and a 5th in Chris Thater. He will be a good part of the crit squad as well as getting some opportunities in other one days.

Lupus was a disjointed team from the moment that they signed Chris Horner. Jonah Mead-VanCort did get a couple of races with the big boys including Joe Martin however the winner of the collegiate D1 criterium in 2016 didn’t get a huge amount of support from his “professional” team. Mead-VanCort will most likely be another one of the crit squad train.

Splitting his time between Furman University and the Northeast, Nathaniel Morse has seen some of his best results come in criteriums including 3rd in the U23 National Criterium this past year. Morse also gets around on a ‘cross bike as well so he should be shooting for a good result at U23 Nationals.

My hometown of Mason, Ohio finally has a pro cyclist to their name with Spencer Petrov. Move over George Clooney and Dan Patrick, you now have company. Brought up in the local Lionhearts and ProChain programs, Spencer has continued to improve every year, especially in cyclocross. On the road, Petrov rode for Holowesko-Citadel’s junior program as well as with the national squad a bit. He is a top 10 to 15 rider in cyclocross on the national circuit and one of the top U23 ‘cross riders in the country so how will he continue to develop on the road? Go the way of Logan Owen, who skipped cyclocross this year to rest up for the road season, or the way of Curtis White, who has exploded on the national ‘cross circuit this year with 9 wins while trying to continue to slowly expose himself to the road? An interesting question that will eventually need to be answered.

The scourge of the New England criterium scene joins CCB Velotooler as a mentor to the young crit squad. Sam Rosenholtz has come around in the last few seasons as a hell of a sprinter in New England that included a 4-race win streak this summer where he beat out future teammates in Dickey, Nate Morse, John Harris and Pat Collins. Rosenholtz’s highlight was a 2nd place in one race of the Memorial Day Gateway Cup in St. Louis where he was nipped on the line by Ty Magner but did beat out National Champion Dan Holloway and Aldo Ilesic. Rosenholtz will be the glue that will hold this young team together in bigger races plus his sprint could deliver some much-needed results.

Jake Sitler is just looking for the opportunities to show his talents. Former steeplechaser turned cyclist from Astellas that had a good year in 2015, had a big block of training in Tasmania and came into 2016 on very good form. He got through a trifecta of Redlands, Joe Martin and Gila, which set him up for a good late spring that saw him go 15th in Winston-Salem, 20th in Philly and then a 3rd overall in the Air Force weekend behind Ty Magner and Bobby Lea. Going into summer with great form, right? Except Astellas as a team more or less imploded and with very limited funds, the crit squad got the majority of the remaining budget as there is more bang for the buck. He DNFed Saguenay and the team didn’t start North Star GP nor Cascade. Sitler raced only a handful of times in July and August. With his age, Sitler will be a road captain this year but if he brings the form, it seems like he will get the opportunities he needs to shine.

Finnish Antti Sizko seems to be a bit of a rider/manager after coming over from CMI Cycling last year, a team that briefly including one of Espoirs Central’s favorite riders, Dmitri Grabovskyy.

Cory Small is one of the few current CCB riders that will be joining the club on their rise to the professional ranks. Small was the team's best finisher in the AnPost Ras this year with 24th overall. Comparatively, Small hasn't raced a large number of race days over the past few years so with some opportunities at high level events perhaps he will be able to have a breakthrough. 

Speaking of another strong cyclocross rider on the team, Cooper Willsey has taken a big step up in his 2nd season on the elite 'cross circuit. Willsey's best finish last year was an 11th in the late season C2 in Kingsport, TN but this season with, he already has eight top 10 finishes in UCI cross races including the U23 Pan-Am Championships. Like Nate Morse, Willsey splits his time between Furman University in South Carolina and the Northeast. Willsey was the Division 2 Cyclocross National Champion last year for the Paladins while on the road, he was the first non-Axeon Hagens Berman rider to finish in the U23 National RR in Lousville after breaking away from the field for 8th place. Depending on how many opportunities he gets, Willsey is definitely a strong piece of the road team that is just beginning to find his feet while still needing to balance his cyclocross priorities. 

Josh Anderson, Ian Clarke and Wyatt Goral are the three development riders. Anderson won a stage in l’Abitibi while doing well in a lot of junior criteriums. Goral is a good time trial rider including a solo win in the Junior Tour de Somerville. Clarke rode well in l’Abitibi however he didn’t have a ton of other results to back that up.

It will be interesting to see what CCB Velotooler will be capable of doing on a shoe-string budget. It is refreshing to see that the team has no illusions of what they are. They aren’t putting on a façade that they are a big-time "pro" team with "paid" professionals nor going the route of having one marquee rider with a bunch of pack fodder to fill in. They are just trying to get as many opportunities as they can and for a development team, it could pay off.

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