Continuing in its mission to develop the next generation of professional cyclists, California Giant Berry Farms/Specialized announced their roster for the 2013 road season. The youngest team in its history will include 11 espoirs, one junior rider and three experienced mentors; a mix that has been proven successful in the past.
“The entire goal of the program is to develop young riders and get them ready for that next level. Get the experience needed in our program so they can move on to professional squads and at the same time, hopefully keeping them in our Red Thread family – Specialized sponsored programs – all the way through.” explained Team Manager and VP of Sales for California Giant, Anthony Gallino.
As one of the nation’s largest grower-shippers of fresh berries, California Giant Berry Farms has sponsored a cycling team for thirteen years and is proud of the significant growth of this program with regard to rider successes and fan loyalty over the years. The company continues its commitment to the program and is proud of the continued success of the athletes while contributing to the health of American consumers by providing an abundant, healthy & delicious product. California Giant believes in programs like cycling and other organizations that send positive messages about the importance of combining diet and exercise as part of a healthy lifestyle.
“What makes the CalGiant/Specialized team so successful is its commitment to winning with young athletes. Their 2013 roster is its youngest ever and, combined with the guidance of the team’s experienced mentors, we’re really excited about their upcoming season,” according to Mallory Burda, USA Sports Marketing, Specialized Bicycle Components.
“Support of Yannick Eckmann and young riders like him is what the Red Thread is all about. Identifying outstanding young talent like his is how we can continue to invest in the future of our sport,” Burda added.
The 2012 Cal Giant Cycling Team saw Evan Huffman win the US National U23 TT Championship and graduate to a WorldTour team. A perfect example of what Gallino calls ‘catch and release’, developing and graduating up and comers to the next step. All the while staying in the Specialized family, from Specialized junior programs to CalGiant/Specialized and onto professional teams.
“We’ll send our equipment from this year to those junior development programs for the kids that are coming into it. We try to help each other and it’s worked out well.” Gallino commented.
Riders joining the 2013 squad include Stefano Barberi (28), Jesse Goodrich (21), Colin Joyce (17), Logan Owen (17) and Jeff Perrin(20).
For Gallino, Barberi fits the CalGiant/Specialized model perfectly. “He’s young enough to relate with the kids, he’s driven and he’s got a ton of experience having raced with teams like Toyota-United and raced all the major NRC and big one-day races so we feel having him is a huge asset this year. He’s the type of guy that will definitely mentor the kids and also if given the situation, he can go for a result.”
Riders returning to the squad include Jared Barrileaux (27), Sam Bassetti (21), Robin Eckmann (20), Yannick Eckmann (19),Eamon Franck (20), Cody Kaiser (20), Stephen Leece (21), James Mattis (39), Torey Philipp (19) and Benny Swedberg (20).
“One of the biggest things that I took away from the year was growing more competitive, by racing at a higher level – at the NRC level – and I’d like to improve that even more in 2013.” said Leece who won the Nevada City Classic and finished second overall, to his teammate, at the Mt Hood Cycling Classic in 2012.
Gallino has big expectations of his returning riders. “We are expecting big things out of the Eckmann brothers and Eamon Franck who was on the podium at Under-23 Time Trial Championships. Also, the secret is out on Stephen Leece and we expect him to have his breakout year in 2013.”
“Next year will be a big year for me. I hope.” Leece added. “It is my last year as a U23. I’ll be one of the older guys on the team and I hope to step it up and get results, that is what I need to do to make the jump up to the next ranks. So that’s what I’m going to be aiming to do.”
Robin Eckmann is targeting the big American races. “Stage races, especially focusing on time trials. I have again Tour of the Gila in mind, and Joe Martin, Battenkill, Redlands, quite a bit of racing.” he said. “Because I come from the cyclocross background and maybe I have that in my blood a little bit so Battenkill, a classic-style race, might be a good race for me.”
As new American citizens, the Eckmanns brothers are also targeting the USA Under-23 National Championships along with their teammates.
After a mini-camp in December, the team will come together once again mid-February for a training camp before heading to the first team race of the year, the Merco Cycling Classic. The squad will focus on USA Cycling National Racing Calendar (NRC) and National Criterium Calendar (NCC) events as well as Northern California classics. The schedule currently includes San Dimas Stage Race, Redlands Bicycle Classic, SRAM Tour of the Gila, Mt Hood Cycling Classic, Cascade Cycling Classic and Nature Valley Grand Prix.
The 2013 California Giant Berry Farms/Specialized Roster
- Stefano Barberi, 28, Oak Park, CA
- Jared Barrilleaux, 27, Petaluma, CA
- Sam Bassetti, 21, Davis, CA
- Robin Eckmann, 20, Boulder, CO
- Yannick Eckmann, 19, Boulder, CO
- Eamon Franck , 20, Pacific Grove, CA
- Jesse Goodrich, 21, Louisville, CO
- Colin Joyce, 17, Pocatello, ID
- Cody Kaiser, 20, El Dorado Hills, CA
- Stephen Leece, 21, San Luis Obispo, CA
- James Mattis, 40, Mountain View, CA
- Logan Owen, 17, Bremerton, WA
- Torey Philipp, 19, El Dorado Hills, CA
- Jeff Perrin, 20, Golden, CO
- Ben Swedberg, 22. Kent, WA
- Anthony Gallino, Director-Sportiff
- John Hunt, Sport Director/Coach
- Jesse Moore, Sport Director/Coach
- Jordi Cortes, Chief Mechanic
- Robert Stoik, Mechanic