Rock Racing-Murcia - 2009 Season

2009 Season

The 2009 offseason was marked by more significant changes. The team once again redesigned its kit and switched its bike to Kestrel's new RT900, 950 gram carbon frameset, featuring a unique aero-shaped monocoque frame design, proprietary EMS Pro fork, and Shimano provided Dura-Ace components. Mr. Ball brought in notorious Director Sportif, Rudy Pevenage along with former Astana Director Laurenzo LaPage. Mr. Ball, in tandem with this move, incorporated Scott Analytics, to manage its anti-doping program. The company's president and founder, Paul Scott, is also the man behind previous anti-doping programs for Garmin-Chipotle, Team Columbia-High Road, and BMC Racing Team. New riders for 2009 included Francisco Mancebo, Jose Enrique Gutierrez, Glen Chadwick, Chris Baldwin, David Vitoria, Caleb Manion, and Ivan Dominguez. Dominguez later wound up signing elsewhere, only to eventually sign with Rock Racing in June. Conversely, Chris Baldwin signed with Rock Racing, eventually being released mid-season. 2003 Tour de France Points Classification Winner, Baden Cooke, also reported to have reached a verbal commitment, eventually signed with Vacansoleil of the Netherlands for 2009 during a period of uncertainty and scrutiny for Rock Racing. .

In May, Michael Creed, Caesar Grajales and Chris Baldwin were released from the team due to a lack in performance. Grajales would rejoin the team and start Vuelta a Colombia. Creed and Baldwin joined Team Type 1, and OUCH Maxxis, respectively. Earlier in March, rider Tyler Hamilton tested positive for a banned substance. The doping scandal resulted in an eight-year ban and subsequent retirement from professional cycling. In June the team signed renowned Cuban sprinter, Ivan Dominguez who had previously been with the UCI Pro Tour squad, Fuji-Servetto. In conjunction with this move, Rahsaan Bahati was promoted back onto the Rock Racing pro squad in order to defend his 2008 US National Criterium Champion title during the US National Criterium Championships, as well as lend support to Dominguez. Bahati was controversially demoted to the amateur squad early in 2009 due to complications in the UCI language regarding roster size. That issue, among others contributed to the teams' rejection by the UCI in its application to become a Professional Continental Team for 2009. In addition to having too many riders on its pro squad, (17), the majority of Rock Racing is age 32, or older. UCI Continental Squads are required to maintain a majority of riders under the age of 28. Even further problems to the organizations professional objectives were the purported monthly salary and logistical financing delays. UCI Professional Continental Teams have a minimum annual gross salary of 27,500 euros (roughly 39,000.00), and 23,000 euros (roughly 34,000.00) for "neo-pro" (new pro) riders in the Professional Continental ranks. Despite the aforementioned roadblocks, the Continental squad as it stands has had numerous top results in 2009. The "Spanish realm" has been the teams stomping ground this season and so it could be viewed that if the team obtains UCI Pro Continental license in 2010 there is the potential for future invitations to races such as the Vuelta a España, one of the sports three Grand Tours.

Results for 2009 include "Paco" Mancebo's stage 1 victory in the Amgen Tour of California as well as his Final Overall GC victory in Spain's Vuelta a Asturias in which he, Sevilla, and Chadwick also each won a stage. David Vitoria scored back-to-back wins in March's Vuelta Mexico Telmex on his way to his third place podium finish in the Final Overall GC. In addition, he also won the Overall Mountains Classification. Vitoria, along with the defending champion Glen Chadwick's fifth place overall, led the team to the Final Overall Team Classification at the Mexican national tour. At June's Vuelta a Colombia, Víctor Hugo Peña and Glen Chadwick each won a stage, while Óscar Sevilla was on his way to taking home the Overall Points Classification for this legendary event. Other top finishes include David Vitoria finishing fifth in the Commerce Bank Philadelphia International Championship, as well as Óscar Sevilla finishing fourth in a bunch sprint among his notable countrymen Ángel Vicioso and David Arroyo at Spain's Vuelta a Rioja.

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