Team California Sets Big Goals for 2024, Starting with Redlands

Team California p/b Verge is set for another edition of the Redlands Bicycle Classic, with only hours away from the start in the City of Highland. The race is near the home base for Team California and an important opportunity to race a high level, multi-day event so essential for the under 23 development level riders working to hone their skills.

AJ Kennedy launched the program in 2013, stemming from the need for a transitional program to help junior riders moving up to the elite level of racing. He recruited a few veterans to help guide the program, and set out to find success racing the domestic US calendar.

Working during Team Cali training camp in Tucson.

Throughout the following years, the team enjoyed numerous podium spots, including a stint in the sprint leaders jersey at Redlands. Last season, their rider Caleb Classen rode away with the Best Young Rider jerseys in all three of the big American stage races – Redlands, Tour of the Gila, and Joe Martin – an important first for the program. In the off-season, the team went back to the drawing board hoping to continue similar success in the coming year.

Garin Kelly third in the TT at 2024 Valley of the Sun.

Gerardo Medina is the current performance director for the team, having raced professionally for numerous years himself with Team California as well as the Mexican National Team and other programs domestic and abroad. He is the founder and owner of The Bridge Endurance training company, keeping a keen eye for talent on both sides of the border.

Gerardo Medina attacking on Highland hill.

Racing worlds with Mexico National Team.

“We spent the off-season scouting riders, interviewing, analyzing data files and building a team of young, talented and motivated riders to get to the next level,” Medina said. “We want to create the top Under-23 team in North America, and so we are taking the steps to do just that.”

The team burst out of the gate in the first showcase of the season – the Valley of the Sun in Phoenix, Arizona – placing three riders in the top five on GC. The race is not on the elite racing calendar but has been a staple for many professional teams looking to test their racing legs so early in the season. The team went on to similar success at the Tucson Bicycle Classic a couple weeks later.

“The team made a big investment to be at both Valley of the Sun and Tucson Bicycle Classic, as well as our team camp in-between,” Medina added. “It was important for us to get a sense of where everybody was with things like performance comprehension, team work, race plan execution, time trial routines, focus, and confidence – all the components necessary for success in the sport.”

The team will have another chance to test themselves against the very best as the big races in the US get underway starting with Redlands this week. Unfortunately, they will be missing Garin Kelly this week, due to the balancing of school and racing schedules. Kelly had finished third in the TT in Phoenix. Troy Fields will likely take the lead with new addition to the team this season, Dylan Schroeder assisting, as well as local Evan Larson. The California native credits Redlands Bicycle Classic for sparking his interest in bike racing years ago, since his first ever race was in the kid’s duel at the Classic.

“We are very happy with the success we have achieved in the last ten years, but most importantly, we are thrilled to see that all the work done during the off-season is paying off,” Medina said. “We are very much looking forward to these bigger races coming up, and another European block of racing later this summer.”

Stage 1 of the Redlands Bicycle Classic begins on Wednesday, through Sunday. The team will then head to the Tour of the Gila in New Mexico before the Inaugural Gran Premio in New York City on May 19.