The UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team concluded an extremely busy week of racing with four squads in action simultaneously around North America and the World. Men's and women's stage racing squads took on the Tour of the Gila in New Mexico, while a men's squad challenged the Dana Point Grand Prix in Southern California, and another stage racing contingent overseas contested the Presidential Tour of Turkey. Showing incredible depth, form, focus, and organization despite being spread across continents, the team proudly secured victories, podiums, category jerseys, and top-10 finishes throughout.
The Tour of the Gila came to a close on Sunday afternoon with the Gila Monster - a climbing-heavy road race based out of Silver City, New Mexico. The women raced over 110 kilometers, with three mountaintop Queen of the Mountain points competitions during the stage along with two intermediate sprints. Multiple opportunities for improvement on General Classification standings led to aggressive racing from the gun. Constant early attacks finally relented when a three-rider breakaway went clear from the field. Representing the UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team in the move was Linda Villumsen, who stayed away until the beginning of the final 25-kilometer climb.
As the race ramped up for the finale, race leader Mara Abbott went clear of the pack. The only rider able to follow the move was UnitedHealthcare Blue Train rider Katie Hall, who caught and passed the breakaway riders, before soloing across the line to capture 2nd place. The fantastic result validates the hard work Hall has put in over the last 12 months, and solidifies her position as one of the strongest climbers in the women's pro peloton.
With her second place stage finish, Hall also jumped to 2nd place in the General Classification. Villumsen was also on the GC podium, with a strong 5th place finish. Rachel Heal was delighted with how the team finished the week of racing, "I'm very happy with today! The team rode a great race. Katie is climbing really well and put herself in a great position to challenge for the win, and for sure there is more to come from her as she grows in confidence." The women of the UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team maintained their position at the head of the Team General Classification, a title the team proudly held through the entire race. The women head to South Lake Tahoe next, to take on the Amgen Tour of California starting May 8th.
The 161.9-kilometer stage 5 was a true challenge for the men's pro peloton and a fitting finale for the Tour of the Gila. With Janez Brajkovič sitting inside the top 10 in the General Classification, the team's goal was to protect Brajkovič and position him for the finale. An aggressive start to the race saw Danny Summerhill and Isaac Boliver race into a powerful 12-man break that lasted for most of the day.
The field reached the slopes of the largest category 1 climb after 120 kilometers of racing, at which point the race favorites came to the fore. Brajkovič had been well protected by his UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling teammates for the majority of the day, and made it into a select lead group of eight riders that would decide the podium placings on the stage.
Alongside Brajkovič in the lead group was teammate Isaac Bolivar. The young Columbian showed his climbing prowess, and ably assisted Brajkovič in the final kilometers of racing. Brajkovič finished eighth on the stage, with an overall placing of 5th on the general classification.
General manager Mike Tamayo was pleased with his team's racing, and happy with their preparations for next week's Amgen Tour of California. Tamayo said, "The boys rode hard and fast all day, and worked well to protect their leader. They seem to be putting the jetlag behind them, and the tired legs from the European campaign are coming around just in time for California." The men will travel to the West Coast of the United States this week in preparation for the Amgen Tour of California, beginning on May 10th.
The eight-day Presidential Tour of Turkey is known as a true test for the best sprinters in the world. It is against this competition that Daniele Ratto of the UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team rode into second place in the green jersey competition, with only Mark Cavendish managing to best the young Italian. In the final standings of the sprints competition, Ratto missed the win by a mere two points, showing he has the potential to find success on the world stage in the near future.
Frederico Zurlo, the youngest member of the UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team in Turkey, battled hard all week to take a resounding second place in the White Jersey competition. Zurlo rode in the break for three days in a row. Hendrik Redant, Director Sportif, was pleased with two greatly deserved podium places, "We can be very proud of the team here in Turkey, they fought for every point and second all week. They are a motivated and inspiring team." The UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling team finished 5th overall in the Team General Classification, showing the strength of the squad in a range of racing conditions.
The famous Dana Point Grand Prix went off on Sunday around a beautiful circuit next to the ocean. The backdrop of Dana Point harbor was the perfect stage for Karl Menzies to take a much deserved victory.
The National Criterium Calendar race started hard and fast, with Menzies making it into a four-person group that stayed away for the duration of the race. With six laps of racing remaining, attacks started flying from the lead group, but Menzies kept his calm to take the win. Karl gave his perspective on the win, "The break rode well together till 6 laps to go when people started sitting on and attacking. With the bunch bearing down on us with 1 lap to go, Ty Magner [Hincapie Racing Team] lead out the breakaway and I was able to just come round him down the home straight to take the win."
Menzies thanked his teammates for supporting him during the race, "It was a great race again this year and I was honored to represent the UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team today for the win. Full credit goes to my teammates for putting their faith in me tonight." The National Criterium Calendar continues for the UnitedHealthcare Blue Train on May 16 in Wilmington, DE with the Wilmington Grand Prix.
More information: http://uhcprocycling.com/