Numbers don’t lie. At least I don’t think they do. This is my annual team review based on previous years NCNCA BAT numbers… At least i think it’s annual.
1. Team Mike’s Bikes p/b Incase 1722
Mikes Bike’s turned a corner last year under the guidance of Steve Pelaez. Mike’s stormed through crits and a bunch of road races with the whole crew contributing to their overall tally. Winger, Brandt, Laberge, Riggs, Williams, Schaefer all put enough points on the board to be in the top 10 of the BAR standings. The 2013 roster add’s a few old pros (Holloway & Kilun) to help mentor the sprinters and climbers. Add in a new Sponsor, InCase, and this squad may have an impact on some NCC, NRC or other national series this year. I’d like to see Mike’s become another ‘Elite Feeder Team’ like Cal Giant or get audacious and go domestic pro.
2. Marc Pro – Strava 1274
Marc Pro – Strava was always good but adding Chuck Hutcheson in 2012 made them a household name. Hutch was the NorCal Hulk smashing every race he was in. He dominated the crits and even had some road race finishes. Keith Hillier demonstrated he’s one to watch in 2013, and after a setllar 2011 season Justin Rossi continued to pop up as he sorted out his work life balance. Hutch jumped to the SoCal Full Circle squad but realized the error of his ways and is back in MPS colors to take on Mike’s Bikes. Watch out for MPS in pretty much every race this year as they added a bunch of new blood including Paul Mach and a handful of younglings they intend to mentor to take on the Evil Empire (which is NorCal bike geek code for Mike’s Bikes.)
3. California Giant Berry Farms/Specialized 835
A little fun and glamor left the NorCal peloton when Cal Giant’s local legen Rand Miller ‘retired’ at the end of the year. I don’t know if he’s a good scientist but the kid could ride a bike, and I will grudgingly admit, he was a great blogger. LONG LIVE THE BIG PINK, BIG PINK IS DEAD! However… this sad news was offset by Evan Huffman’s signing with the Astana squad. Huffman dominated the local races and stepped into the mix at bigger events like Redlands and Gila. Swedberg and Stastny made it into the top 20 BAR despite spending a lot of time on the road at races across the country. 2013 looks like it’s going to be just as fruitful With another stacked roster in 2013 that includes cyclocross luminaries like Yannick Eckmann and Logan Owen the Cal Giant team will make a splash at the NorCal events they can show up for.
Fremont is the only squad that did not have a rider in the top 20 BAR standings in 2012. They sported only a few wins, but lots of top tens to rake in over 500 points. Fremont Bank Cycling team strikes me as a much needed bridge team that can help transition riders from clubs to more competitive programs on the elite level. One rider that is standing out already is Willie Myers. With a name like Willie Myers this boy should be playing baseball in 1950′s, or riding a wood track in smoke filled midwestern city. Myers recently had a few podiums at the Coppertown Circuit Race in the P1/2/3 and Cat 2 events. Confidence like that will breed success, and next thing you know you got another monster on your hands. God save us all from Willie Myers.
5. SquadraSF 306
Tim Larkin, a former NorCal pro, is leading this squad into 2013. After a modestly successful 2012 the Squadra group is looking to step in-line with the likes of Mikes, MPS, and Cal Giant. Their Elite squad looks decent and luckily has a guy named Wolfgang ,best name ever next to Thor, which is one of the great, and mostly unknown, keys to success. An factor that will contribute to the ongoing success of this program is the cadre of Cat 2, 3, and 4 riders they have on the roster them a farm team they can mine for talent all summer long. Finding fresh guys and teaching them to race mid season can have a huge impact on your win statistics and long term health of your team. It’s only a matter of time before a focused and deep squad like this is hugely successful.
Team Jamis Hagen Berman pb Sutter Home, a name which will break me before the year is over, has a a bunch of NorCal riders like BJM and Mooney that will likely win any local race the enter. We gotta keep and eye on TJHBpbSH and make sure they get into the Tour of California.
I’m very curious what a new team of “old pro’s” like Prime Time Cycling, can come up with. These guys are always fit, know how to race, and don’t take no guff. In a sub hour, non-NCC race guys don’t really slow down till their 50′s, I almost said mid -40′s but i think they are getting older, so there will be some wins. Plus, Briggs is the only commentator on NCCN that makes me spit my coffee and punch my screen at the same time.
Hopefully Metromint has done some rebuilding on the men’s side of the house. Seems like the good ol’days when they were fed by the Stanford Club have come and gone, but they have a good niche going with the women’s squad so why mess with success. Cliff Bar has made some recent acquisitions including, David Benkoski, so maybe they might punch their way back into the top five this summer. The elite squad of Leopard-Sapporo is small but like Squadra SF they have a big pool of lower category riders to train and draw from. The farm club model is great for identifying talent as long as you are a desirable team to be on… remember the days when Webcor was cool, and then it wasn’t?
I’m sure i’m missing all kinds of great mentions… add it in the comments and if worthy I’ll do a second round of looking at teams.
Tomorrow… the women’s.
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