New Beginnings for Optum Pro Cycling p/b KBS After Sun Soaked Training Stint

Once again, the powers that be smiled upon Optum Pro Cycling p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies as they completed a nearly rain-free block of training in Ventura County early this week. Aside from daily, high intensity training rides that reached distances over 120 miles, the week was filled with extra-curricular activities for the forty-strong athletes and staff.

Time trial testing and consulting from HED aerodynamics expert Dino Edin, a V.I.P. centered group ride along the Pacific Coast Highway, and team meetings with World Bicycle Relief, Acura, Compex, Mavic, CLIF Bar, and other partners were rounded out by a tiki torch-lit beach barbecue at the end of the week.

The thirty riders and dozen staff that comprise the 2012 team will head home to continue preparation before the season begins in earnest at the MERCO Cycling Classic in Merced, CA on March 1st.

The usual excitement that sets into the small Silver Strand Beach neighborhood upon the arrival of the team was again palpable. Residents along the quiet beach front walked by the team’s set up each morning, slightly baffled by the 30 foot trailer, fleet of sticker-wrapped Acura TSX wagons, and the large group of orange and black clad cyclists packed into a narrow driveway. It is the program’s fifth season on Silver Strand, and locals would stop to chat before the group embarked on training rides often exceeding the six hour mark.

With a new title sponsorship, an expanded roster, and a brand new look in 2012, Performance Director Jonas Carney wanted this year’s training camp to be about new beginnings.

”As our fifth year training in Ventura County, it was important to make sure things weren’t getting stale for our athletes. Our new Performance Manager Eric Wohlberg, General Manager Jacob Erker and I worked hard to maximize our time here. This meant a well-thought out block of training with a wider variety of terrain and longer, tougher rides.”

New roster addition Ken Hanson described the transition to his new program as “seamless”.

”It is truly an honor to be teammates with some of the best in the sport. I already feel like part of the family, and we get along great both on and off the bike,” Hanson said. “We will have so many chances in 2012 to race as a team and win as a team, and with such great directorship in Jonas [Carney] and Eric [Wohlberg], I am confident we are headed for big things.”

The women’s team on a training ride through the Santa Monica canyons.

For Performance Director Rachel Heal and many of her 12 athletes, it was the first training experience in Ventura County.

”We have veterans on this team who are riding at the highest level of the sport, as well as riders having their first experience on a pro roster,” said Heal. “I couldn’t have dreamed up a better setting to bring everything together and start molding the team.”

The pristine roads and casual vibe left veteran Carmen Small impressed.

”We have such a diverse group of ladies, and the staff is wonderful,” said Small. “We got to ride gorgeous roads every day and see dolphins swimming from our bedroom windows. This stuff all adds up to create an atmosphere where we bond as a team, train hard, and have fun. This team provides one of the most professional environments I have seen as a racer.”

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