I know there are some disappointed fans that we didn't sign Taylor Phinney. I understand your disappointment, as Taylor certainly has shown that he has a very bright future ahead of him and will be an asset to any team. I met with Taylor in the Tour de l'Avenir to talk with him one-on-one. Out of respect to Taylor and his new team, BMC, I won't reveal the details of that discussion, but I will tell you this: Taylor had a very tough decision to make, and as much as I would have liked to have continued to be part of his development, I understand and respect his decision. I certainly wish him the best of luck and hope that he will continue to succeed. Simply put, his success is good for cycling!
We don't have any racing till Sunday, so that gives me a nice opportunity to continue planning for 2011. I'm very excited about Ben King, who we signed prior to winning the USA Pro Road Race Championships this past weekend. Look out for a special stars & stripes Team RadioShack jersey next year in the peloton!! Ben, like Taylor, is young and very talented, and I definitely look forward to working with him next year. Something else I really like about Ben (that many of you may not know) is that he's been studying at a top university in the United States called Virginia Tech. Maybe some of you have heard of it; from what I hear, it's a good one to go to. I also went to university in Belgium, so I know how difficult it can sometimes be to manage studies and cycling.
I'd also like to briefly recognize the great work Axel Merckx has done with the Trek-LIVESTRONG U23 squad. I mentioned this on Twitter and Facebook the other day, but I think he also deserves a mention in the blog for his work in developing the future generation of professional cyclists. Most U23 teams would be happy to just be competitive in elite level championships, but for Axel's boys to win both USA events this weekend is extremely impressive to say the least. I'm not sure where Axel got his cycling knowledge from, but it must have come from a good source! Maybe his father?!?
So in the end, while we didn't sign Taylor, I am still very excited with the new talent we have coming in for 2011! And I hope you are too! We've got some young ones, which will help lower the high average age we have now! In all seriousness, it will also be nice for some of the younger ones to have mentors in some of the more experienced pros on the team. I remember Jani telling me in 2007 how much he learned from racing and rooming with Levi. As sports directors, we can only tell them so much - what they see first hand from other riders is equally as valuable.
We still have about a month of racing left and I will continue to keep you posted on new developments. I guess the quickest and easiest way to get the information from me is through Facebook and Twitter.