AMGEN TOUR OF CALIFORNIA NAMES HOST CITIES FOR 2015 RACE

 

The Amgen Tour of California, presented by AEG, announced it will make its grand return to Sacramento, the capital of California, to kick off the 10th anniversary of America’s largest cycling race. The eight day stage race will travel a north-to-south route and span nearly 700 miles through many of California’s most breathtaking roads and sceneries. The Amgen Tour of California is also proud to announce a first of its kind, three-day professional women’s cycling race on May 8-10, 2015, as well as an invitational Time Trial on May 15, 2015.
Women’s Race Expands to Unprecedented Four Days
as Part of 10th Anniversary Edition
Men’s Race to Feature Nearly 700 Miles of California Scenery as
World’s Top Cyclists Compete in America’s Premier Pro Cycling Race
May 10-17, 2015
SACRAMENTO (Oct. 20, 2014) – The Amgen Tour of California, presented by AEG, announced it will make its grand return to Sacramento, the capital of California, to kick off the 10th anniversary of America’s largest cycling race. The eight day stage race will travel a north-to-south route and span nearly 700 miles through many of California’s most breathtaking roads and sceneries. The Amgen Tour of California is also proud to announce a first of its kind, three-day professional women’s cycling race on May 8-10, 2015, as well as an invitational Time Trial on May 15, 2015.

Regarded as the largest and most prestigious cycling event in America, 52 California cities have hosted the race throughout the past nine editions. For the 10th anniversary, the start of the 2015 Amgen Tour of California will take place in Sacramento, the state’s capital, and travel through 12 additional host cities during the eight day event including Nevada City, Lodi (first-time host city), San Jose (ten-time host city), Pismo Beach, Avila Beach, Santa Barbara, Santa Clarita, Big Bear Lake, Ontario, Mt. Baldy, L.A. LIVE (Downtown Los Angeles) and Pasadena.

“Since we launched the Amgen Tour of California nine years ago, we have strived to host the world’s top cyclists in a race that will not only challenge them as professionals, but will also provide a stunning backdrop,” said Kristin Bachochin, executive director of the Amgen Tour of California and senior vice president of AEG Sports. “As we look ahead to our 10th edition of the race, we’re certain the worldwide audience will be on the edge of their seats watching as the sport’s best men and women cyclists compete against each other in what is likely to be our most challenging and picturesque course ever.”

Stage 1 of the race commences on May 10, 2015 in the state’s capital of Sacramento, which marks the seventh time the city has hosted the race and the third time as the overall start. After eight days of racing, cyclists will conclude the race in the city referred to fondly as the “City of Roses,” Pasadena.

Stage 2 of the race will find the peloton traveling through historic Nevada City to first-time host city Lodi, known as the “Zinfandel Capital of the World.” Stage 3 will see the cyclists start and finish in the only city to have participated in all 10 editions of the race, San Jose.

As the peloton continues its journey south, Stage 4 will take the race from one ocean side community to another when the peloton traverses from Pismo Beach to Avila Beach. This year marks the second time each city has served as a host city.

Stage 5 of the race will commence in the “American Riviera” known as Santa Barbara, where cyclists will have the chance to take in picturesque views of the California coast and Pacific Ocean. From Santa Barbara, cyclists will land in Santa Clarita, with both cities sharing the distinction of serving as host cities six times since the race began.

Third-time host city Big Bear Lake will host this year’s Individual Time Trial (Stage 6), where cyclists will compete against the clock while taking in stunning mountain and lake views. During Stage 7, Ontario, referred to as the “Gateway to Southern California,” will host cyclists for the second time as they make their way to a mountain top finish at Mt. Baldy, a third-time host city.

As the race draws to a conclusion, the peloton will travel from L.A. LIVE in the heart of Downtown Los Angeles to Pasadena. This marks the third time Los Angeles has served as a host city after hosting the overall finish of the race in 2012, also at L.A. LIVE. Pasadena has hosted the race four times, including the overall finish in 2008.

For ten consecutive years, biotechnology company Amgen has served as the title sponsor of the race and will continue to activate Breakaway from Cancer® leading up to and during the race. Founded in 2005 by Amgen, Breakaway from Cancer aims to increase awareness of important resource available to people affected by cancer, from prevention to survivorship.

The Amgen Tour of California draws global recognition as one of the most anticipated cycling events of the year attracting Olympic medalists, World Champions and top Tour de France competitors.

2015 AMGEN TOUR OF CALIFORNIA TO HOST UNPRECEDENTED FOUR DAYS OF PROFESSIONAL WOMEN’S CYCLING

To highlight the extraordinary achievements in women’s cycling, the 2015 Amgen Tour of California will continue to expand its support of women’s cycling and host a first of its kind three-day women’s cycling stage race. The women’s race will travel through South Lake Tahoe on May 8-9, 2015 and conclude in Sacramento on May 10, 2015, the same day of the overall start of the men’s race.

As with previous years, the world’s top-ranked time trialists will be invited to race against the clock during an invitational Time Trial preceding the men’s Individual Time Trial at Stage 6 in Big Bear Lake. Powered by SRAM, one of the founding sponsors of the Amgen Tour of California Women’s Time Trial, the women’s cycling event serves as a chance for female cyclists to display the powerful and exciting racing they are known for around the world.

“We are beyond thrilled to see the Amgen Tour of California continue to expand its entire women’s racing platform. This will continue to expose the world to the passion and force women have on the bike,” said, SRAM President Stan Day.

“AEG has always been proud to support women’s cycling and is pleased to once again expand its women’s competition to four days,” said Bachochin. “Hosting four days of women’s cycling, fans will have the opportunity to watch the immense talents and achievements of the best women cyclists from around the world.”

The Host City partners for the 2015 Amgen Tour of California include:

Women’s Race:

Stage 1: Friday, May 8 – South Lake Tahoe
Stage 2: Saturday, May 9 – South Lake Tahoe
Stage 3: Sunday, May 10 – Sacramento
Invitational Time Trial: Friday, May 15 – Big Bear Lake
Men’s Race:

Stage 1: Sunday, May 10 – Sacramento
Stage 2: Monday, May 11 – Nevada City to Lodi
Stage 3: Tuesday, May 12 – San Jose
Stage 4: Wednesday, May 13 – Pismo Beach to Avila Beach
Stage 5: Thursday, May 14 – Santa Barbara to Santa Clarita
Stage 6: Friday, May 15 – Big Bear Lake (Individual Time Trial)
Stage 7: Saturday, May 16 – Ontario to Mt. Baldy
Stage 8: Sunday, May 17 – L.A. LIVE (Downtown Los Angeles) to Pasadena
For further information on the 2015 Amgen Tour of California, visit www.AmgenTourofCalifornia.com.

 

Mike Friedman Announces Retirement After a Decade in the Pro Peloton

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October 17th | Minneapolis, MN
What does it take to acquire the nickname “Meatball” in the sport of professional cycling? As a 5’ 9” 170 pound former high school wrestler, Mike Friedman had both the physique and the personality to live up to one of cycling’s most unusual monikers. His unique size and stockiness helped Friedman roll across banked tracks, through sprint finishes, and down dangerous descents with the power and efficiency of a bowling ball. Throw in a liberal dose of humor, work ethic, and positivity, and you’ve made your Meatball.
This week, Friedman announces his retirement from cycling after 10 years in the pro peloton and four seasons with the team. He ended a decade of racing in typically gritty fashion – as a last minute call-up for Colorado’s grueling USA Pro Challenge following a strep throat diagnosis for Will Routley. It was a brutal seven days of racing to tackle without proper training and acclimation, but he toughed it out, crossing the race’s final finish line in Denver intact and unpinning his numbers with dignity for the last time.
The thirty-two year old Pittsburgh native’s career was full of high points. He contested the Spring Classics with the Garmin team in 2008, racing Paris Roubaix, Milan San Remo, and the Tour of Flanders. His Classics run was highlighted by a 12th place finish at the grueling Het Volk, contesting the bunch sprint after driving the day’s breakaway for 180 kilometers. Despite his efforts on the road, the indoor track may have been the place where Meatball found himself most comfortable – he won six national titles on the hardwood from 2005 – 2007 in solo pursuit, madison and team pursuit (alongside future Optum p/b KBS teammates Michael Creed and Brad Huff). Friedman’s speed on the track eventually led him to the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, where he competed in the madison alongside Bobby Lea. After the Olympics, he continued to race on the road and developed a reputation in the US as a passionate and hard working teammate.
“Mike was a natural fit for our team. He’s outgoing and intense and he always gave 100%, whether it was a local race or the Tour of California,” said Performance Director Jonas Carney. “The rest of the team fed on that kind of energy, and it brought everyone to another level. As a continental team, if you want to go up against WorldTour teams and get results, you need that kind of energy and intensity. It was great having Mike on the team for the last five years, and he will be greatly missed.”
Mike helps sell lemonade to support the Ronald McDonald House in Minneapolis during the Nature Valley Grand Prix.
We sat down with Friedman to talk about what he will remember most from a lifetime in the sport.
What has cycling meant to your life?
“Cycling is a sport that I’ve competed in since I was 13, and has defined me for nearly 20 years. I’ve had the opportunity to race in 36 countries on various continents and in hundreds, if not thousands, of cities. I went from riding my bike around Pittsburgh as a little kid to competing in Paris Roubaix, Milan San Remo, the Tour of Flanders, multiple World Championships, and the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. It all felt like a dream. This sport gave me the opportunity to meet the President of the United States (twice!) and yes, I stressed about eating with proper etiquette thanks to my mom’s old adage, “What if someday you eat dinner with the President? You need to know how to eat politely.” I have been fortunate to have the support of many amazing people throughout my life. These people spent time coaching, teaching, guiding and sponsoring me. The friends, stories, and connections that I made through this amazing sport were building blocks for who I am today.  It’s allowed me to look at the world differently and provided me with an education that can’t be attained anywhere else.”
What was unique about your time with Optum p/b KBS?
“The last four years I spent with Optum and Kelly Benefit Strategies have been nothing short of amazing. It wasn’t just a team, but more so a band of brothers with the bicycle being the arms we bore together. We shared the same ideals and had many highs and lows riding for what we believed in. I’m very proud to have ridden my whole career 100% clean. Hard work, sleep, good nutrition, and sacrifice got me where I am today. I never considering doping, and I’m exceptionally proud of that fact. I believe in 100% pure sport, and I was privileged to ride for a team and a director in Jonas Carney who share such an important belief.”
Are there any moments that stand out from your time with the team?
“There are many moments I can remember being “major highlights”. As cyclists we set lots of goals, and whether we achieved those goals or get as close as we can, I will always consider it a highlight. I learned too late in my career that you can’t afford to be too happy with success and too low during hard times. One week can be huge success for the team, and the very next weekend we could all crash or get our backsides handed to us by another team. If I had to pinpoint a favorite highlight with Optum p/b KBS, the 2012 UCI World Championship Team Time Trial in Holland definitely stands out. It was a fantastic time for me and for our team for many reasons. We had a great time training together and living in close quarters at our team house in Belgium. We were incredibly focused on a result and we went after it, even if we still got beat handily by the ProTour teams.”
“I will also miss the beach house we rented in Oxnard, CA every year for training camp (I don’t mean the riding – I was always sore from that!). The activities and team bonding it provided were awesome: getting on wet suits to go ocean kayaking or swimming; kite flying; field goal kicking on the beach; trying to surf with Cando; walking the quiet beach at night and thinking about life; planking competitions in the living room; coffee on the back porch in the AM and a glass of wine in the PM. I’m really going to miss my time there with teammates both old and new.”
What was your biggest influence in the sport of cycling?
“My Dad was my biggest influence. He was overweight by the time I showed any real interest in his Masi Gran Criterium. It was his original bike, one that I now have since he passed away this June. We never did an actual “ride” together, but when I was a junior racer he worked for a trucking company as a manager. He had his CDL so he would commandeer a truck on Friday night after work, and we’d hit the road for Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, or wherever else there was a Lance Armstrong Junior Olympic Series Race (LAJORS). He would drive all night and I’d sleep in the sleeper cab, only to be awoken in the morning by fresh pancakes, exactly three hours before each race. He’d sleep some if he could, watch the race while walking the course, sleep some more if he could, and then we’d pick up a return load for his truck and head home Sunday afternoon. Sometimes that meant getting dropped off at school Monday morning in a semi truck. My Dad is the one who really believed in me early on, and he did whatever he could to allow me to race. I really, really miss him.”
Any last words?
From the bottom of my heart, I want to personally thank everyone who involved themselves in my life of cycling. Every moment was truly special, and all of the support allowed me to keep “chasing the dream”. For every professional athlete, retirement will come, but that doesn’t mean what we enjoy doing so much has to retire with it. I’m very excited for what the future holds, and plan on attacking it with the same energy I put towards my cycling career.
After hearing of Mike’s decision to retire the team began sharing some of their favorite moments from the last four years of the man they called “Meatball.”

The Perfect Mile

By: Sean Burke

The off season, along commensurate reduction in training volume, is here.   What to do with all of those extra hours off the bike?  A little cross training is probably good for you overall health, and may even help you be a better bike rider next year.  But you’ll still have time to spare, and it is an excellent time to catch up on your reading.  There are volumes out there on training methods for cycling, but I’m going to suggest something a little different.   2014 is the 60th anniversary of the 4 minute mile, a record thought unbreakable until the early 1950s.   The Perfect Mile by Neal Bascomb first came out 10 years ago on the 50th anniversary of the accomplishment, and the 60th anniversary is a great excuse to read or re-read the story.

The Perfect Mile chronicles the training and racing of three young men from different continents, all disappointed by their performance at the 1952 Helsinki Olympics, as they attempt to  redeem themselves  by breaking that four minute barrier.  Wes Santee: America Farm Boy,   Roger Bannister: English medical student, and John Landy, the Australian college student, all eager to place themselves in the record books.  Each man is striving to be the first to break 4 minute mile before the others, and each is man dealing with his own unique set of challenges.   For Santee and Bannister, the clock is ticking both on and off the track as Santee prepares for his inevitable military service and Bannister on his retirement from running due to his entry into the “real world” of being a medical doctor.  Meanwhile, Santee is saddled with the responsibility of leading his collegiate team to victory in track meets, and often required to run two or three events before he runs his mile in completion.

You’ll find yourself enraptured and motivated by how hard the three men train to beat the 4 minute barrier.  If you read in the evenings before bed, you’ll often find yourself thinking “I want to be outside training right now!” at 11PM.      You’ll also realize that some of the apparently counterproductive efforts by national and international governing bodies are nothing new, as all three runners deal with barriers erected by “The Powers That Be.”    You’ll read about Bannister trying eek out that extra 1% by wearing lightweight shoes that are only good for three miles, or rubbing graphite on his spikes so that they pull more easily from the clay track, and realize that the idea of “marginal gains” is not a new concept pioneered by modern day cycling teams.

While one of them men becomes the first to run the mile on 3:59.4, and another one soon bests the record by an astonishing 2.5 seconds, the true climax of the story is when the two  sub-four minute milers finally meet each other directly in competition.  The sports pages and the fans all asked “Who will win, the runner with the incredible sustainable pace, or the one with the lightning fast finishing kick?”    Cyclists can easily identify with the pain each man feels as pushes to be the first across the line.

 

Have a question for Coach Burke?   A topic you would like to see covered?   Head on over to his website CrankCycling.com to get in touch.

UnitedHealthcare Team Concludes Groundbreaking 2014 Season

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The UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team has concluded an outstanding racing season, one that brought new opportunities and resulted in new successes. As the 2013 season came to a close, the UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team announced the exciting news that the team would develop and launch an entirely new women’s program to race alongside the men in the 2014 season. With a reputation of success in team management and rider development, as well as a history of impressive race results, the news of a women’s program was received with great enthusiasm and expectation. As the roster of top-tier female riders was announced, all eyes turned to the new faces of the UnitedHealthcare Blue Train.
Women’s Roster: Winning out of the Gate

The women of the UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team hit the ground running and headed to the 2014 Tour Femenino de San Luis, their first race as a team. When the race ended and the team yielded two stage wins and the overall victory (Stage 1, Hannah Barnes; Stage 3 and Overall, Alison Powers), it was clear that a successful season was ahead. From there, the squad went on to achieve another stage win and overall victory at the Vuelta El Salvador, both achieved by climber extraordinaire Mara Abbott. The 2014 Tour of the Gila was another great early season success for the women, with Alison Powers winning the criterium and Mara Abbott taking victory in stages 1 and 5, sealing overall victory in the general classification. As the season went on and the bonds among team members became stronger, the women earned several high-profile criterium victories as they perfected their lead out train. At the 2014 Amgen Tour of California, sprinter Coryn Rivera took second on the opening circuit race, with teammate Alison Powers taking the win in the time trial on the following day. The women also participated in the first-ever La Course, a circuit race along the legendary Champs-Élysées in Paris, France, coinciding with the final stage of the 2014 Tour de France. Coryn Rivera earned 6th place on the world stage in Paris, bringing home the best young rider award for the team.
Men’s Roster: Raising the Bar in 2014

The male riders of the UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team expanded their European racing schedule in 2014 to participate in multiple WorldTour events, including Milan – San Remo, E3 Harelbeke, Paris-Roubaix, and La Fléche Wallonne. The UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team rode bravely through these top-tier European races as protagonists, placing a rider in a breakaway or otherwise facilitating the day’s action, proving to fans and race organizers that the Blue Train is here to stay at the top of the sport with the depth, talent, and ambition to expand its presence at the highest level of racing. International results reflected these abilities with stage wins at the Tour de Langkawi (Stage 5, Brad White), Tour de Taiwan (Stage 1, Luke Keough), and Tour of Norway (Stage 2 win and 2nd Overall, Marc de Maar) as well as the KOM jersey at the Tour of Denmark (John Murphy). The team expanded into new races while maintaining a high level of success throughout the American racing schedule, earning a repeat win at the Philadelphia Cycling Classic (Kiel Reijnen) and multiple top-10 performances and most courageous rider jerseys at the Amgen Tour of California and Tour of Utah. Validation of the team’s hard work came at the 2014 USA Pro Challenge, when the team rode a tactically perfect opening stage, positioning Kiel Reijnen for the sprint victory on the streets of Aspen, Colorado. The stage win propelled Reijnen into the race leader’s yellow jersey, the sprint points leader’s green jersey, and the best Colorado rider’s blue jersey, while teammate Danny Summerhill was awarded the most aggressive rider jersey for his attacks throughout the stage. With the support of dedicated teammates, Reijnen protected the sprint points leader’s jersey through all seven stages, and proudly wore it after sprinting to 2nd in the downtown Denver finale.
One Team: Side-by-Side Success and Continued Criterium Domination

Despite multiple squads competing simultaneously on various continents, the criterium squad of UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team, known as the Blue Train, maintained the high level of success they’ve become famous for throughout the American criterium series. With the well-oiled machine that is the UnitedHealthcare lead out train, the riders took victories at the Boise Twilight Criterium, Manhattan Beach Grand Prix, Glencoe Grand Prix, all three races of B.C. Super Week, and many others.
The addition of a women’s roster brought a new energy and dynamic to the UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team for 2014. At many of the races, the men and women were able to train and warm-up together; share tips, tactics, and course knowledge; cheer for each other during their races; then reflect on the results and support each other after the race. Racing together, one after another, the squads took dual victories at the Sunny King Criterium (Coryn Rivera and Carlos Alzate), Belmont Criterium (Alison Powers and Carlos Alzate), Novant Health Invitational Criterium (Hannah Barnes and Carlos Alzate), all three races of the Tulsa Tough Omnium (Race 1: Hannah Barnes and Ken Hanson; Race 2: Hannah Barnes and Luke Keough; Race 3: Coryn Rivera and Brad White), and all four races of the Gateway Cup (Races 1-3: Coryn Rivera and Ken Hanson; Race 4: Hannah Barnes and Ken Hanson).
2014 USA Cycling National Road Championships: Four Sets of Stars & Stripes

The UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team went into the 2014 US National Road Championships with great momentum and high goals. Less than two weeks after dominating the Amgen Tour of California Women’s Time Trial, Alison Powers took to the starting ramp at the USA Cycling Professional National Championship Time Trial with hopes of earning the coveted stars and stripes jersey for the UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team. The 2014 course in Chattanooga, Tennessee was 30.9 kilometers long with rolling hills and technical turns. Powers had fantastic strength and stamina, allowing her to power through the undulating course with speed and precision. Top form, flawless equipment, and determination all converged for Powers, as she devoured the course and claimed the victory by a margin of 30 seconds. The team then went into the US Women’s Championship Road Race next with three riders and three podium threats – Mara Abbott, Katie Hall, and Alison Powers. Mara Abbott made her mark on the race early, winning the first queen of the mountains competition. Katie Hall launched a solo attack at 60 kilometers into the 104.8-kilometer race, claiming the the second queen of the mountains competition. Alison Powers bridged up to her teammate and at 10 kilometers to go, launched a massive attack out of the chase group, overtaking the breakaway. With a gap of only a few seconds, Powers unleashed her time trialing form and motored through the final circuits with the national title on the line. She crested the final climb with her advantage intact, then held it to the line and triumphantly finished with a huge smile. Her performance made history as Powers became the only woman to simultaneously hold the US national championship jersey in all three disciplines – the 2014 time trial and road race titles on top of Powers’ 2013 national criterium title. At the US National Criterium Champions in September, Powers was happy to support teammate and sprinter Coryn Rivera’s fight for the title. In the championship criterium, the women of the UnitedHealthcare went on the offensive early in the race, creating their own breakaways and solo attacks. After several attacks, responses from the rest of the peloton, counterattacks, and crashes, the women of the UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team engaged their well-practiced lead out train and positioned Rivera for the finale. Rivera was able to execute, sprinting to victory and keeping the stars and stripes within the team. Sporting director Rachel Heal commented, “It feels pretty amazing to have won all three titles in the first year of having a women’s component to the UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team, we knew we’d hired strong riders, but to be able to create the team chemistry and teamwork to bring those results is very satisfying.”

 

In the men’s race, John Murphy, Adrian Hegyvary, and Jeff Louder joined an early breakaway that would later gain a large enough advantage to lap the field. Always ready to adapt tactics to meet the race situation, the men of the UnitedHealthcare Blue Train adjusted to the unfolding race and positioned Murphy for the bunch sprint. The lead out was flawless and Murphy took the national criterium title, the fourth of the year for the UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team.
Achievements Beyond Racing

While the UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team saw great success racing all over the world throughout 2014, their efforts and goals reached far beyond the podium. The team takes an active role in UnitedHealthcare’s mission to help people live healthier lives and creates opportunities to promote the benefits of exercise, nutrition and healthy living to people across the United States and internationally. Throughout the 2014 racing season, the UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team made frequent appearances at local hospitals, schools and community events, while helping to raise funds for the UnitedHealthcare Children’s Foundation (www.uhccf.org), a nonprofit public charity that provides medical grants to children in need. The riders and staff would like to thank all of the partners and fans that made the remarkable 2014 season possible.
General Manager Mike Tamayo commented, “The 2014 season was spectacular. It was the first year with a women’s team, so there was a volatile moment of bringing in a women’s team into what was a men’s team but the integration was smooth, flawless, and perfect. Looking back at the season, part of our success came from our sponsors and all the fantastic support they offered throughout the year. We’re already working on 2015, so stay tuned because and have another incredible season

2015 NCC, NRC Calendar Announced By USA Cycling

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Redlands 2014

Colorado Springs, Colo. (October 8, 2014) — USA Cycling on Wednesday announced its 2015 USA Cycling National Criterium Calendar (NCC) and 2015 USA Cycling National Racing Calendar (NRC) . The premier domestic road cycling calendars sanctioned by USA Cycling, the sport’s national governing body, begin in March and continue through September with races across the United States.

Riders will compete for standings points tabulated for individual riders as well as teams. Following each week of racing, USA Cycling will post updated standings on each respective calendar page as well as distribute to media.

NCC

Increased from 16 to 19 events for 2015, the NCC begins March 21 when the action will be in Tampa, Fla., for the Gasparilla Criterium and Action Sports Festival and concludes Sept. 20, when the riders will toe the line in Hartford, Conn., to contest the Connecticut Cycling Festival. The 183 days in between will feature the fastest, most entertaining criterium racing in the country.

The second event of the NCC calendar is the Sunny King Criterium in Anniston, Ala., on March 28. The following week is highlighted by the Novant Health Invitational Criterium on April 11 in Charlotte, N.C. The criterium racing moves west to Dana Point, Calif., on May 3 as competitors will contest the Dana Point Grand Prix of Cycling before heading to Wilmington, Del., to compete in the Wilmington Grand Prix on May 16. The Tour of Somerville is the main event in Somerville, N.J., on May 25 before the focus shifts to a two-race weekend on May 30 with the Winston-Salem Classic Criterium in Winston-Salem, N.C., and the Glencoe Grand Prix in Glencoe, Ill. In early June, the spotlight focuses on Manhattan Beach, Calif., for the Chevron Manhattan Beach Grand Prix, and on Tulsa, Okla., for the Saint Francis Tulsa Tough on June 12-14.

The criterium action returns to the east coast when riders compete in the two-day Air Force Association Cycling Classic in Arlington, Va., on June 13-14. After a three-week break, the competition moves to Boise, Idaho, as the Andersen Banducci Twilight Criterium takes center stage on July 11. The peloton continues to go west to compete in the Littleton Criterium in Littleton, Colo., on July 18. On July 25, the riders will be in Lake Bluff, Ill., to compete in the Intelligentsia Cup. The action returns to the northeast on Aug. 15 when riders will compete in the Rochester Twilight Criterium in Rochester, N.Y., followed by the Chris Thater Memorial in Binghamton, N.Y., on Aug. 22. St. Louis, Mo., plays host to the the TSG Realty Gateway Cup on Sept. 4-7 before the penultimate race of the calendar, the TD Bank Mayor’s Cup, takes to the streets of Boston, Mass., on Sept. 19. The NCC wraps up the following day with the Connecticut Cycling Festival in Hartford.

Luke Keough (Sandwich, Mass./UnitedHealthcare) clinched the men’s title in the 2014 NCC men’s standings while Erica Allar (Tucson, Ariz./Colavita-Fine Cooking) topped the NCC women’s standings for the second straight year with 1,117 points. UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling rode away with the NCC men’s team standings with 3,040 points while Colavita-Fine Cooking posted 1,963 points to win the NCC women’s team standings.

NRC

The 2015 edition of the NRC boasts seven events, including three additional UCI races for both men and women, beginning April 8-12 with the Redlands Bicycle Classic in Redlands, Calif. The second event of the calendar is the Joe Martin Stage Race p/b Nature Valley UCI 2.2 event in Fayetteville, Ark., on April 23-26 before the focus shifts to Silver City, N.M., for the five-day Tour of the Gila, another UCI 2.2 race, from April 29-May 3. The following week features the UCI 1.2 Winston-Salem Cycling Classic in Winston-Salem, N.C., on May 31. The NRC action continues in Philadelphia where riders will compete in the Philly Cycling Classic, a UCI 1.2 race, on June 7 before heading to Minneapolis, Minn., to contest the North Star Grand Prix from June 17-21. After a long respite, the NRC calendar ends with the Thompson Bucks County Classic (UCI 1.2 men’s race only) in Doylestown, Pa., on Sept. 12.

The 2014 NRC individual standings winners were Travis McCabe (Tucson, Ariz./Team SmartStop p/b Mountain Khakis), who topped the NRC men’s standings with 672 points and Lauren Stephens (Dallas, Texas/Team TIBCO-To the Top), who paced the NRC women’s standings with 934 points. Team Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies topped the NRC men’s team standings with 1,972 points while Team TIBCO-To the Top won dominated the NRC women’s team standings with 1,858 points.

 

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Building Bikes for a Better Tomorrow

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October 13th | Minneapolis, MN
On October 7th, Optum Pro Cycling presented by Kelly Benefit Strategies teamed up with Plus One Health Management to assemble 49 Diamondback Viper youth bicycles for distribution to underprivileged youth in the Chicago area. The bicycles reached their new owners thanks to Chicago-based 501(c)3 organization Working Bikes, who partners with homeless transition, refugee resettlement, and youth empowerment programs to put bicycles to good use on the streets of Chicago.

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Most of the volunteers had never built a bike – but thanks to help of team partners Park Tool and Diamondback, who provided simple-to-assemble frame sets, wheels, helmets, and tool kits, the event was a fun learning experience for all. The seminar also featured a talk and Q&A session with Optum p/b KBS sprinters Eric Young and Brad Huff, among other health & wellness professionals. The bike build was part of a multi-day health and wellness seminar for Plus One employees, who recently became the newest members of the Optum services family.

Been Down So Gosh Darn Long, That It Looks Like Up To Me

By

Jason Harrod

 

Wow. I have been away for some time. I apologize. And for what it’s worth, it has not been a party. Life has handed me, well, lemons and while trying to make them into margaritas I have found myself slipping into a darkness I have only borne witness to once before. That time was no fun either. I have dragged my ass for long enough. I have let my riding slip away for long enough. I have stopped writing and reading for long enough. Don’t get me wrong, I did not quit life or let my family down, but I did quit me and let myself down. I have had enough. I found the cure to what was ailing me with a desire for change and the simple lifting of a leg. No, not that. Come on now. The leg I lifted was over the top tube of a mountain bike, and as hard as it was to get my rounder self rolling, pointing said mountain bike at some singletrack was a quick and potent cure for my malaise.

 

Singletrack can cure anything. Really. Don’t believe me? Try it for yourself. I dare you. Sure the first day or two was humbling as I had to find my rhythm, my focus, my line. But I did. In finding the aforementioned, I found myself as well. I am glad to be back.

 

I am blessed to live in an area where dirt and singletrack and good riding are as easy to find as my much more cavernous belly button. And I am blessed to have friends and family and people who support me. Did I mention singletrack? My recent dirty escapades have lit a proverbial fire under my ass; it has spilled over into all aspects of my life. I am writing again. I am reading more. I am spending more and better time with my family and friends. I have become more passionate about my coaching, about my diet, my sleeping habits. Simply put, getting back on the bike has completely and fully enhanced every aspect of my life.

 

I suppose if you are reading this I am preaching to the choir. But I was lost.   Now I am found.   Down no longer looks like up … to me. Rediscovering myself through the bike has been a truly enlightening and heart pounding experience. It’s all good. The path is clear, dusty and off camber at times, but clear. I have no choice but to follow.   Wanna come?

Eric Marcotte Talks World Championships

 

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Photo: USA CYCLING

Eric Marcotte recently returned back to Arizona from Ponferrada, Spain where he was a part of the six-man team who represented the United States of America at the UCI Road World Championships at the end of September.

After spending some time unwinding and enjoying some much deserved time off from training and racing, we questioned Eric about his first worlds experience. As the current USA Road National Champion, Eric earned automatic selection for the team, a spot that Director Michael Creed believes was hard earned after the season Eric and the team have had in 2014.

Eric describes the experience as unbelievable and a blessing and hopes to bring some of the lessons learnt from the trip into his racing in 2015, where he has renewed his contract with Team SmartStop.

How was your first world’s experience?
I certainly feel blessed to be apart of such an incredible event. It’s an unbelievable feeling lining up with the likes that were on the start list.

Did you ever imagine that your season would end with you travelling to Spain to represent the USA?
Absolutely not. This whole year has been much more than ever expected, but also wonderful to see what is possible for a team.

Was this your first time racing in Europe? How was it different to racing in the USA?
For me it was my first time in Europe ever, so certainly first time racing. Level and depth of rider and field. As well as the way it is raced. Much more respect and etiquette for each other.

Eric Marcotte Talks World Championship

How long were you in Ponferrada for and did you get to do any sight seeing in between training etc?
I stayed north of Madrid in Mira Flores de la Sierra for a few days, then traveled on to Ponferrada for the next 5 days. Not a ton of sight seeing other than when out on the bike. It was a beautiful area with what I felt a great sense of history.

What were some of the things you did to prepare for the world championships?
For training i did a couple long days, and some efforts mimicking what the climbs were like out on the Ponferrada course.

What lessons can you bring back and apply to your season next year?
I’ll keep those to myself, and hopefully show what I learned on the road next year.

What was going through your head on the start line?
I was soaking it up, and in amazement how low my heart rate was.

After coming from Team SmartStop that has become such a family in 2014, how did team USA gel together?
I think everyone can tell that it was a great crew that always came to work, and together.

What are you looking forward to the most now that your 2014 season is over?
Just getting time to enjoy other things in life.

Andy Schleck Announces Retirement

 

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(Mondorf-les-Bains, Luxembourg) – After nine years at the top of the sport, Trek Factory Racing standout Andy Schleck announced this morning that he will retire from professional cycling. The young Luxembourger’s career was forced to an untimely end by the knee injury he sustained in a Tour de France crash earlier this year.
“I’m obviously disappointed to end my career like this,” said Schleck. “I would have liked to keep on fighting but my knee just doesn’t allow it. Since my crash in the UK there has hardly been any progress. While the ligaments have healed, the damaged cartilage is another story. I have been working hard on rehabbing the knee but came to the hard realization that at the risk of irreversibly injuring it, this is the best course of action.”
In his storied career, Schleck rode to victory on some of cycling’s biggest stages, stepping four times onto Grand Tour podiums. Among his many notable accomplishments, Schleck won the 2010 Tour de France and triumphed in the 2009 Liège-Bastogne-Liège after a courageous solo breakaway. Schleck highlights his win on the Galibier stage of the 2011 Tour de France as one of his most memorable achievements.
Though only 29 years old, Schleck has made a lasting impact on the sport, and his presence in the pro peloton will surely be missed. Well-loved by fans and teammates alike, Schleck’s legacy will be his good nature, strength of character, and sportsmanship. In his years at the highest level of the sport, Schleck distinguished himself as a humble, hard-working and earnest competitor.
“Andy was an instant and natural fit for the Trek family when we first met him with LEOPARD-TREK,” said Trek VP Joe Vadeboncoeur. “It has always been more about family than anything else at Trek, and so it is with Andy. On top of that, Andy is one of the most talented cyclists of all time. Many of my best days as a cycling fan have been while watching Andy race. We have celebrated the great days and endured the difficult ones alongside him. I know great things are ahead for Andy. He will always have friends and a family at Trek.”
At the unfortunate end of a career of limitless potential, Schleck is quick to keep things in perspective. “Cycling has been my life for many years and I will need time to figure out what I’d like to do. Luckily I can count on my family, friends, and Trek who have always supported me,” he said. “I am very happy to have trained and raced alongside my brother and to have made some of the best friends that I have. I have always said that cycling is not the beginning and the end of my life. I have a wonderful girlfriend and a wonderful son. I’m excited to find out what lies ahead.”

Phil Gaimon Joins Orange & Black for 2015

 

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WorldTour climbing talent returns to US soil
October 7th | Minneapolis, MN
Optum Pro Cycling presented by Kelly Benefit Strategies today announces another major North American addition to their road roster, hot on the heels of three major Canadian singings last week. Garmin-Sharp’s Phil Gaimon will fly the colors of the Orange & Black in 2015 following a season racing across European roads in the WorldTour.
The 28 year old Columbus, Ohio native brings a significant amount of domestic and international experience to the program. Performance Director Jonas Carney pushed hard to bring a former standout of the domestic peloton back to compete primarily onto American soil.
“We feel very fortunate to be able to bring a rider of Phil’s caliber to our team,” said Carney. “After a full year of racing a the World Tour level, he will have certainly made some physical gains and he will bring more valuable tactical experience to an already well-rounded program.”
Gaimon’s experience in the fast paced, highly competitive Europe peloton will lend itself well to the roads he knows so well back in the United States.
“I learned a ton over there”, said Gaimon. “I’ve improved my pack and positioning skills, because I had to to survive. I learned better how to function as a teammate, and how to control a race based on the abilities of our riders. I also got stronger, which is always useful.”
Gaimon also noted that the Optum p/b KBS program aligns well with his personal philosophy on racing.
“There’s a ton of talent in North America, a huge pool of hard workers and clean riders. With the bigger races getting better every year, Optum p/b KBS has a great schedule. I’m pleased to be here – the team has always focused on developing North American riders who can win against WorldTour teams, and compete internationally to add further depth and experience.”
Gaimon’s impressive palmarès includes several notable finishes in recent years. A stage win and 2nd overall at Argentina’s UCI 2.1 ranked Tour de San Luis in 2014, an overall victory at the 2012 Redlands Classic, and 2nd place overall in 2013 at the climbing heavy Tour of the Gila in New Mexico highlight the list.
Carney also looks forward to mixing Gaimon’s proven ability in the mountains to recent signing Mike Woods’ rapidly growing ascending skills.
“With races like Gila, California, Colorado, and Utah being very important on our schedule next year, we wanted to build more depth in the climbing department this offeseason. Woods and Gaimon should be a great combination for those events and give us a lot of options when it goes uphill in 2015.”
With the World Championships returning to US soil in 2015 for the first time since 1986, Gaimon looks forward to an opportunity at the UCI Team Time Trial Championships in Richmond, VA next September.
“I haven’t done a TTT in a long time, but if I can hold Zirbel’s wheel and fit into that team, Worlds will be another great opportunity.”