Micah Rice (Jittery Joe's): "We want to make an impact at the Tour of Georgia"

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11.12.2007/ The Jittery Joe’s Professional Cycling Team has finalized its roster for next season by keeping six riders from 2007 and adding five new riders.  Jittery Joe's rider Neil Shirley surprised the cycling world at the end of the 2007 season by out sprinting Freddy Rodriguez for the last podium spot at the USPRO Road Race Championships behind winner Levi Leipheimer and runner-up George Hincapie. Cyclingheroes spoke with team manager Micah Rice.

Copyright Jittery Joe's  cycling team
Trent Wilson is one of the captains of Jittery Joe's (picture: Jittery Joe's cycling team)

Cyclingheroes: Can you tell us more about the patron programm of Jittery Joe's professional cycling team?  

Micah Rice: The Patron Program was formed after we had many requests for this sort of thing.  This is for individuals who want to be a part of a team but are not a large corporation who is a sponsor of a pro team.  We realized that many individual people like to be a bigger part of cycling--spend time behind the scenes with the riders and at the races.  How else can an individual sign up to do a bike ride and have dinner with the pro riders?  How else can you get a ride in the team car during a race like Tour of Georgia or the USPRO Championships?  How can someone get a Jittery Joe's team jacket and helmet when they aren't for sale?  The Patron Program makes all of these things possible and people who normally wouldn't get a chance for these things can spend real time with a pro team.  More information is available at our website .

Cyclingheroes: What were the main highlights of the 2007 season for the team?

Micah Rice: When I think of this past 2007 two races come to mind as highlights. At the Tour of Georgia the entire team rode very well and we were lucky enough to receive three jerseys for our efforts.  Tommy Nankervis won the Best Young Rider jersey on day one, Austin King won the Most Aggressive Rider jersey on Day Two and Cesar Grajales [who rode the entire race with a separated shoulder] won the Most Aggressive Rider jersey on the last day.  It is hard
to get good visibility when you are racing against teams like Discovery, CSC and Predictor-Lotto but we did well.  The other race was the fantastic ride by Neil Shirley at USPRO Road Championships.  We only had four riders in the race but all of them gave everything to Neil who had the best ride of his life.  I know that standing on the podium with Levi and George was one of Neil's proudest cycling moments and it was a big day for the whole Jittery
Joe's Team.

Cyclingheroes: Pro cycling had another very difficult year in Europe. Did then current doping problems in Europe also effect pro cycling in the USA like for instance bad publicity and sponsors walking away from the sport ?

Micah Rice: I think that the problems in Europe do cause sponsor troubles here in the United States.  We are very lucky in the fact that we have a sponsor who is extremely supportive of our sport and trusts us to move ahead in a positive direction.  The great thing about our team is that much of our budget is self-supportive--the fans of our team purchase our coffee and that is what raises money for the team.  Many new sponsors are shying away from sponsoring cycling right now which does make it hard for this sport all over the world. However, I am starting to see a new type of forward-thinking sponsor who realizes that this may be the best time to get into the sport. They realize that cycling is starting to clean itself up and this may be the best time to get involved because in a few years the Pro Tour licenses will be in the hands of teams who can continue to "clean from within" like Slipstream is doing.  I don't know if the worst is behind us or ahead of us, but I do know that eventually cycling will be cleaned up and other sports will be going through the same troubles that cycling is now. 

Cycling Heroes: What long term goals does Jittery Joe's have ?

Micah Rice: I think we could be a Pro-Continental team in the future, but for right now we are concentrated on being the best North American team we can be.  Unless you are interested in racing a lot overseas, there isn't much reason to be a Pro Continental team--it just costs more.  We will see what the future brings us!

Cyclingheroes: Are there major changes in the 2008 roster?

Micah Rice: We have brought back a core of six riders from 2007 and we have added 5 new riders to make a total of 11.  (our team roster is attached).  I think that we will have riders that will do well at both stage races and criteriums and we are sure to bring a few surprises this year to the domestic race scene!

Cyclingheroes: What are the main goals of the team for the 2008 season?

Micah Rice: As usual, we want to make an impact at the Tour of Georgia--that is always an important race for us.  We also want to try to do better at some criteriums.  We have a new sprinter in Jonathan Cantwell and some strong support from Cody Stevenson, Tim Henry, Evan Elken and Chad Hartley.  Only time will tell!

Jittery Joe's with a strong 2008 roster

Headlining the returning squad is Aussie captain Trent Wilson and American Neil Shirley. Neil surprised the cycling world at the end of the 2007 season by out sprinting Freddy Rodriguez for the last podium spot at the USPRO Road Race Championships behind winner Levi Leipheimer and runner-up George Hincapie. Also returning to the squad is Oregon’s powerhouse Evan Elken, Australian sprinter Cody Stevenson, Durango native Matt Shriver and Georgia’s young talent Tim Henry.

Returning to the team after spending a few years with TIAA-Cref and BMC is Chad Hartley from the Chicago area. Chad raced for The Bean Team in the first Tour of Georgia in 2003 where he was second by only 5 seconds to Saul Raisin for the Best Young Rider’s jersey. Jonathan Cantwell and Ryan Sullivan continue the Australian tradition on the Jittery Joe’s squad—Jonathan spent a bit of time racing for the LaGrange team in California this year and Ryan (brother of Toyota-United’s Sean) spent his time honing his racing skills in Europe.

Two American neo-pros round out the roster. Jared Barrilleaux from San Luis Obispo, CA and Ben Kneller from Durango, CO will bring youth and strength to the team.

2008 roster Jittery Joe's professional cycling team
Jared Barrilleaux, Jonathan Cantwell, Evan Elken, Chad Hartley, Tim Henry, Ben Kneller, Neil Shirley, Matt Shriver, Cody Stevenson, Ryan Sullivan, Trent Wilson

DirectorJesse Lawler

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