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February, 2006

Toyota-United Pro Cycling Team.

A whisper has turned into a bang. The rumors have now been squelched with the official announcement of the Toyota-United Pro Cycling Team. For months the team has been ordered to keep their lips sealed and say nothing about this new powerhouse team. Considering the team consists of some of the top talent in America this was no easy task. The phone rang constantly to Tony Cruz, Chris Wherry, Ivan Dominguez, Jose Haedo, and Chris Baldwin to name a few. In total there are seventeen riders on the Toyota-United Pro Cycling Team. Each rider a contender and winner individually but when put together on the same team will be unmatched. We have riders from many different countries – Cuba, Brazil, New Zealand, Australia, Mexico, Serbia-Montenegro, and Argentina all united to win.

The management consists of the owner of the team, Sean Tucker, and the two team directors are Harm Jansen and I. For six months everyone has been working flat out putting together the right sponsors and the right riders for the team launch. The team will ride United bikes, a new bike brand made by Easton. The bike will be for sale only on the team website at www.toyota-united.com. The riders have also had great success with OS Performance carbohydrate drinks at www.oscycling.com. Six hours on the bike drinking only OS and not one rider had any problems or even came close to bonking. This product will make a huge difference on race day. Lastly, I should mention that the Toyota RAV 4 team car is pretty nice. It’s larger inside then it looks on the outside and we had to lower the car three inches to meet the UCI requirements for height restriction for a team car. Now we are lowered and ready to race!

In addition we have a team bus and Toyota Sequoia's to help travel the team around from race to race. The Toyota’s were upgraded with a towing package to help pull the mechanics trailer and our marketing expo tent that will be present at many events. The marketing team for the cycling team is an incredible experienced group out of Seattle and Los Angeles. They organized our team photos which pretty much took up an entire day. The riders had individual shots, group shots, and casual shots and of course the team shot in front of the team bus.

The official launch took place in New York City at the ESPN Zone only three days after the team finished their training camp in Los Angeles, Ca. The training camp was pretty standard with the riders training five to six hours a day. The biggest difference from other camps was that they wore all black cycling clothing, had tape covering all the logos on their bikes, and had plain follow vehicles. There were no signs that this was a sponsored team because it looked more like a local cycling club with some damn strong riders. The team actually went as far to wrap the bus with sponsor decals for the photo shoot and then remove them until the official launch. We handed out some team clothing at camp but again no one was allowed to wear them until after the NY launch. You can see some photos of training camp and the new team kit at www.toyota-united.com.

The first event will be the Tour of California. There are 8 Pro Tour teams set to compete in California and our team will be ready to go head to head for stage wins. Discovery Channel and some of the other teams started their cycling season earlier than usual specifically to get ready for Tour of California. The race is seven days long and three of those days should see the field get split up and decide the G.C. The other days will be for the sprinters. With coverage on ESPN daily, I believe with Roll and Liggett, it should be easy to keep up with the action. The Toyota-United line up for the Tour of California will be Tony Cruz, Chris Baldwin, Chris Wherry, Jose Garcia, Jose Haedo, Ivan Dominguez, Mariano Friedick, and Heath Blackgrove. Blackgrove is from New Zealand and because he is coming off his summer he showed exceptional form at training camp giving him a spot on the team.

After the Tour of California expect to see the team at Merced/Mclane, Fresno, San Dimas, Redlands, Ojai, Sea Otter and then the Tour of Georgia.

We hope to see you at the races and for you to join our efforts in promoting cycling in the US. You can join us by signing up for our free membership program. There are also different membership levels to receive added benefits. The Toyota-United Pro Cycling Team is ready to move forward.

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