Tour of Georgia - Navigators Insurance Team Profile
Cesar Grajales and Phil Zajicek co lead the team fresh from racing in Europe. A
multi talented squad iron men, climbers, sprinters and multiple national
Fresh off their first leg of racing in Europe Ed Beamon's Navigators team
brings all the tools to make an impression in the next week in the UCI's highest
rated race in North America. One of the two USA's Continental Teams the Nav's
have raced from the Genting Highlands at Langkawi to the cobbles of Belgium this
The Navigators are a fundamentally strong team with a variety of talents for
every challenge in a one day classic or a multi stage tour. The depth of the
teams combination of talent from the USA, Eastern Europe, Columbia and
Australia gives them a strength to draw on no matter the terrain or teams bring
Zajicek and Grajales as co-leaders both multi talented and strong stage racers
have a compliment of talent to aid in their shot at taking yellow in Georgia.
68 ZAJICEK, Phil NIC USA
71 BROOKS, Ben NIC AUS
72 SWINDLEHURST, Burke NIC USA
73 DAVIDENKO, Vassili NIC RUS
74 GRAJALES, Cesar NIC COL
75 GRISHKINE, Oleg NIC RUS
76 KOBZARENKO, Valery NIC UKR
77 LAGUTIN, Sergey NIC UZB
One of the most competitive riders in the American peloton "T-Bird"
just turned 33 this March. A rider in his prime that has won the The Tour of the
Gila the toughest stage race on the National Race Calendar twice during
his career; winning it the first time when he was 20 years old. Burke in his 7th
year as a pro is known for his climbing and strength as a team player. Zajicek
and Grajales have a strong card to play with Burkes experience and support.
A Columbian Cesar has raced in the USA for the last three years and made
his presence known in the 2004 Tour of Georgia and in 2003 T-Mobile San
Francisco Grand Prix as a climber by taking the Climbers prize in both events.
Grajales will be a threat that no team can let go as the race hits the
mountains. Riding on his adopted home turf the roads of Brasstown Bald will be
lined with his fans cheering him up the mountain stage he won in 2004.
Sergey is the current Road and Time Trial champion of Uzbekistan. In
2003 he won the U-23 Worlds Road Race Championships an all round rider with a
dynamite sprint he brings all the right tools at 24 years old to support the
team to a win.
Vasili Davidenko has been both the Road
and Mtn Bike champion of Russia and campaigned in the Classics in Europe, the 35
year old rider in his 13th season could be the tactical leader of the team or
ride in support. At 25 he won a stage at the Tour DuPont and can contribute at
any specialty for the team be it rouleur or sprinter.
Valeriy Kobzarenko at 27 years old has
been to the Olympics three times and is a former Ukrainian National Champion. A
focused rider that paid his dues in the tough races of Eastern Europe. As a
pursuit rider he can be counted on to protect a team leader or lead out Oleg
Grishkine to the sprint finish.
Oleg Grishkine a 5 time champion of
Russia once on the road and 4 times in track events; spent his U-23 years racing
on the Russian national team in Italy.
Ben Brooks of Australia probably rode
against Oleg during his internship with the Australian national team in Italy.
Brooks has been a presence in the USA Peloton the last three years first with
Danny Van Haute's Jelly Belly team and now with Ray Cippolini's Navigators.
Brooks can do all round duty and is know to be an adept stage racer and
aggressive rider in any conditions.
Phil Zajicek turned 26 years old three
weeks ago, but has displayed his talent in the qualities that make an excellent
stage racer in climbing, time trialing and recovery whether in the mile high
Quinghai Lakes tour in China; Great Britian or Colorado.
Pre Race Nav's Report
Navigators Insurance Returns for the Tour De Georgia
Grajales Welcomes the Heat
With temperatures hovering in the low 90’s, The Navigators Insurance Pro Cycling
Team was presented earlier this evening at the commencement of the 4th Annual
2006 Ford Tour de Georgia. The Navigators, along with 14 other professional
cycling teams from the US and Europe, begin a six-day, six-stage race starting
Tuesday morning in Augusta and culminating on April 23rd in Alpharetta.
Following an early season racing schedule that has brought the squad to
Australia, Malaysia, California and Western Europe, the team has been preparing
for this world-class event since mid-January. The highest-ranked event in North
America the Ford 2006 Tour de Georgia - the Navigators Insurance team looks
toward their eight-rider roster of Ben Brooks, Vassili Davidenko, Cesar Grajales,
Oleg Grishkin, Valeriy Kobzarenko, Sergey Lagutin, Burke Swindlehurst, and Phil
Zajicek to again make its mark in the race.
Race announcer Dave Towle, noting the steamy temperatures, pegged Cesar
Grajales, the race’s 2004 Brasstown Bald stage winner and only man to beat Lance
Armstrong on a mountain top finish at any US National Racing Calendar event, as
a man to watch. Those familiar with the ultra lean Columbian have noticed the
smile on his face since the team arrived in Augusta last evening an Athens
Georgia resident, Grajales, thrives in the heat, a key word in the week’s
Sharing GC duties with Grajales is Arizona-based, Phil Zajicek. Zajicek was
the top ranked American of all US Domestic teams participating in March’s
inaugural Tour of California until a last-stage crash took him out of contention
for a podium spot. Zajicek, as Towle noted, will be looking for a little
revenge, and said Zajicek, “I’m ready and feeling very good.”
I think the team is well prepared, and we are looking forward to an exciting
week of racing,” said Ed Beamon, the team’s Directeur Sportif. “We have had a
bit of bad luck over the last several weeks in Europe, but I believe the guys
have come through it with good form, and are really excited to be back racing in
the U.S.A. The warm weather is an added bonus, and the Tour of Georgia crowds
are famous for their energy and enthusiasm, so the entire team will be focused
to give Grajales’ local fan base something to cheer about come Saturday.”