Wildlife Generation Pro Cycling
Cycling fan's were crushed when they learned that Jelly Belly, American cycling longest running sponsor had pulled sponsorship and folded the team going into 2019. Fan's would no longer have access to the teams bright colors and free samples of jelly beans at races. More importantly it left a void where many up and coming professionals were left scrambling to find new teams or worse give up the sport entirely. In the eleventh hour, new life was breathed in and the Wildlife Generation Pro Cycling P/B Maxxis was born. With Danny Van Haute at the helm and the majority of the Jelly Belly staff intact, the mission of continental pro cycling carries on.
The team held their launch at the Hilton Hotel in Del Mar, California coincidentally across the street from the industry trade show CABDA. The launch featured five of the ten rider squad and team staff. There they unveiled the new team kit and had a rousing presentation with Dave Towle as the master of ceremonies. The team's focus is to be an under 25 squad with developing riders into the pro tour and world tour ranks. The five riders of the ten rider team in attendance were Ryan Jastrab, Sam Boardman, Finn Gullickson, Camden Vodicka and Quentin Kirby.
The evening started with a "happy hour" style meet and greet where the new team jersey was on display along with the new bikes. Although the Specialized Allez bikes did not have the official paint scheme, the team is going to be outfitted with Specialized aluminum offering along with vision wheels and FSA components. Other sponsors include ISM saddles Maxxis tires and JoJe bars. After that there was a buffet dinner where guests could mingle with riders and staff to talk about the teams upcoming season.
Cycling announcer Dave Towle lead the team presentation first speaking with Danny Van Haute on the teams goals for the year. He then got to hear from each of the five riders in attendance and finally spoke with Leah Sturgis, the owner and CEO of Wildlife Generation. The team while racing mostly in the continental United States will also be making appearances in Asia and Europe.
Later in the evening we spoke with Danny Van Haute.
DVH From a riders point it won't be any different. They are on track to do about eighty races in the year. It's a different title sponsor. We won't be handing out any candy too much but we are getting the message across about the Wildlife Generation and we want to bring the cause to the fans of cycling. The rainforest are diminishing, the orangutan is demising and we need to get the message across that we need to save that. Hopefully everybody listens and it's going to be a fun year.
SCC Was it deliberate to bring on a U25 squad?
DVH Yeah that was a cause that Leah and myself wanted to do. There are a lot of clubs that support juniors and U23 but there are aren't many pro teams that support young riders. All these kids probably have goals that they want to be in the Tour De France and we would like to help them with that and they need to start somewhere.
SCC Are there any target races that the team is focusing on?
DVH We focus on Asia and most people think Asia does not have great races but they do. I started bringing people there twelve years ago and it's good racing and seeing more participation from more teams. We are going to target Redlands for sure, nationals both U23 and pro and after that we'd like to go to Tour of Utah so we'll have to incorporate (the mileage) into their training. This is a lot different from racing criterium in Southern California.
SCC Is there a designated GC rider on the team or is everyone in development?
DVH There are no GC guys right now. We'll have to have a team meeting at camp and see what their expectations are but I think if we could just finish Redlands Bicycle Classic since only about twenty guys finish Oak Glen out of 150 so if we could finish out of our 8 guys that's a big accomplishment for me and I think for them. If we could top five in any of the stages or hunting stages that would be a goal. I think if we asked a rider hey Sam (Boardman) go for the KOM that would be putting too much pressure right now and we don't want that.
The team training camp will kick off in February in Southern California and the teams first race will be Tour de Murrietta followed by San Dimas Stage race and then Redlands.
For more information check out Wildlife Generation Pro Cycling Team.