NOW Cycling Announce 2012 Pro Women’s Team Roster
Last season Phil Keoghan, host of The Amazing Race on CBS, and co-founder with partner Louise Keoghan of No Opportunity Wasted (NOW), teamed up with Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation to create the first of its kind professional cycling team, “NOW and Novartis for MS.”
The NOW and Novartis for MS women’s team announced its 2012 roster today, led by 2011 National Road Champion and 2012 Olympic long team member, Robin Farina. Looking to improve on a very successful 2011 pilot season, the team that launched in June of this year will tackle a full season of racing in 2012 with a 9-rider roster.
The team will once again be directed by Kurt Stockton, the 1990 US professional road champion. “My goal is to continue the upward trajectory that we started in 2011” says Stockton, “with a group of solid riders who first and foremost are here to race their bikes. I was very fortunate to put together such a tight knit core group in 2011 and will build on that in 2012.”
Joining World Championship and Pan-Am Games team member Robin Farina and returning from 2011 will be Anne Samplonius, winner of stages at the Tulsa Tough, Cascade Classic, and the Tour of Elk Grove; Junior double-national champion and world championship team member Addy Albershardt; Tulsa Tough overall winner Christina Gokey-Smith; and Devon Gorry.
New riders for 2012 include Alison Powers, the 2009 overall NRC winner who sat out most of 2011 injured; former Irish national road and time trial champion Olivia Dillon; double US 2011 track champion (International Omnium and Points Race) Beth Newell; and development rider Ashley James who is a collegiate national champion.
The uniqueness of NOW and Novartis for MS team is that not only do the riders race their bikes at the highest level, but they are also paired on tandem bikes with people living with Multiple Sclerosis at select high-profile charitable Bike MS events around the country. The goal is to show the world that MS does not define those living with the disease.
“We are lucky to have Novartis, who share our passion in the battle against this disease, as our title sponsor again in 2012,” said Keoghan.
NorCal … le combat des femmes commence!
2012 looks to be another stellar year for women’s racing in NorCal. With the new Steven’s super squad ready to prove themselves, the always bubbly MetroMinties riding confident from an awesome 2011, and a big contingent of local riders on the TIBCO, Exergy, and VK teams … this is going to be a great season of watching some hot and heavy woman on woman action. The new NOW/Novartis team has a triple decker of NorCal talent with Dillon, Newell and Gorry – and these are three aggressive, never say die women who love killing it in the trenches … and I, for one, can’t wait to watch the bombs get dropped.
Tour of California Women’s Crit again?
Well, there’s something listed on the NCNCA calendar about a ToC criterium in Santa Rosa in May, but no details have surfaced that I have come across (with no real searching on my part … blogger doesn’t equal journalist). IF this ToC criterium is going to be another event to highlight women’s racing … that’s going to be a HUGE event. I mean HUGE. The turnout will be from all over the country, and it’ll be a major focus for all the NorCal teams. Of course, there’s also a women’s stage race listed on the NCNCA calendar for the same weekend … which makes my butt twitch to think that we’d ask our women to choose between two conflicting events.
If the ToC women’s crit is on … it’s going to be a huge deal for teams like TIBCO and Exergy. Exergy snapped up the biggest sprinter on the block in getting Teresa Cliff-Ryan, and I would say she has to be the hands on favorite for any field sprint in the US next year. She’s gunning big for the Olympic road selection, and if she’s not fighting it out in Europe for UCI points with the USAC National squad, she’ll be on the whip end of the Exergy sprint train.
But there are a couple of real strong sprinters on challenger squads that I’m super interested in watching for 2012 … one is TIBCO’s Jen Purcell, and the other is NOW/Novartis’ Christina Gokey-Smith. Purcell is an excellent free-lance sprinter, and I think she’ll be able to take advantage of an extremely aggressive TIBCO squad in the big crits. Gokey-Smith has a big-time leadout train in the form of TT-crusher Olivia Dillon and track speedster Beth Newell – not to mention the massive amount of experience from Farina and Samplonius – and I see Gokey-Smith developing as a fast finisher.
But of course, the biggest, baddest dawgs on the US scene are going to be the Specialized Lululemons. I can’t see them racing too much here as a larger squad during the year, but the spring campaign will be ferocious as all the teams fight like hell to be in screaming form to compile all the UCI points they can before May. Redlands this year is going to be insanely fast and furious. I love to hate Redlands. But I really want to watch that Sunset Loop race this year … holey buckets of spit, that’s gonna be warfare.
I just hope they aren’t wearing these circa-1986 cipollini-stripe kits.
But once the NorCal racing calendar gets officialized and made public, we could be lucky enough to find a lot of top-notch racers flooding their engines at our local spring events.
Can’t frickin wait.
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