Optum ads Huff, Jones and Routley To 2014 Roster

 

Optum Pro Cycling presented by Kelly Benefit Strategies today officially announced its 2014 men’s roster, with three key signings rounding out the 14-man team. Former US Criterium National Champion Brad Huff, Carter Jones, and former Canadian Road Race National Champion Will Routley will join the Orange and Black for the upcoming season, complimenting a roster that includes 2013 US Criterium National Champion Eric Young and 2013 US Time Trial National Champion Tom Zirbel.

 

Returning for 2013 are UCI America Tour standout Ryan Anderson, Alex Candelario, Mike Friedman, Jesse Anthony, Tom Soladay, Scott Zwizanski, Bjorn Selander, and ‘cross specialists Jeremy Durrin and Mitchell Hoke. Performance Manager Eric Wohlberg will return to assist Performance Director Jonas Carney with directing duties.

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With his three new signings, Carney has added experience, leadership, and tactical savvy in Routley, climbing and stage racing ability in Jones, and sprinting muscle and leadout expertise in Huff.

 

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“When we were looking at our roster this offseason, there were a few things that needed to be addressed, and we were very fortunate that the riders who fit that mold were available,” said Carney. “Will Routley has been someone I have always had my eyes on – he is a North American rider with lots of European experience and that is exactly the type of guy we like on our program. Carter Jones is arguably the best climber in North America, and Brad Huff is old friends with all of our veteran lead out train guys, so it all happened very naturally.”

 

Routley is returning to North American racing after spending the previous season in Europe with Belgian outfit Accent Jobs-Wanty, while Huff, formerly of Jelly Belly, has been a stalwart of the US racing scene for the past decade. Jones comes over from Bissell ProCycling after a breakthrough 2013 season, where he claimed the King of the Mountains jersey at the Amgen Tour of California, finished 8th overall at both the Tour of the Gila and Tour of Utah, and notched 11th overall at the grueling USA Pro Challenge.

Bissell Pro Cycling Team Training Camp, Feb. 2012

 

Carney’s new signings address gaps in the roster that arose in the offseason.

 

“With Mike Creed and Marsh Cooper retiring, we lost some veteran leadership and climbing power, which really created the opening we expect Routley and Jones will fill. Ken Hanson made a move over to UnitedHealthcare which opened up a spot in our lead out train for Brad. It was tough to say goodbye to Chad Haga – he was an

 

exceptional rider and a tough guy to replace, but we’re delighted to see him sign with a World Tour program

 

that I have a lot of respect for in Argos-Shimano. We always wish the best for our athletes, and to see him take such a big step forward is exciting.”

 

Continuing to lead the assault on sprint finishes, veterans Alex Candelario and Mike Friedman have returned to guide Huff and

 

 

reigning US Criterium National Champion Eric Young. Canadian Ryan Anderson also returns, bringing the speed and tenacity that notched two USA Pro Challenge podium finishes and third overall in the individual standings for the UCI Americas Tour.

 

The team is focused on defending their national titles, executing European campaigns in the spring and fall, and earning its third consecutive invitation to the World Team Time Trial Championships,scheduled for 2014 in Ponferrada, Spain.

 

“2013 yielded some great results, but we want more in 2014,” said Carney. “Ryan finished 3rd as an individual in the UCI America Tour, and we finished 2nd as a team, but next season it would be a testament to the strength of our program if we could step up and claim those titles. Every rider and staff member in our family has a job to do, and if we do them well, great things can happen in 2014.”

 

Images Courtesy of Team SpiderTech, Bissell Pro Cycling, and Jelly Belly Pro Cycling.

Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies 2014 road rosters

Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies 2014 road rosters

After loosing top US domestic riders and a director, Optum has reloaded and is ready for the 2014 season. The men’s roster has the largest turnover with seven riders not returning and only 3 of those spots being filled. Kevin Field assumes directorship of the women’s squad and European racing experience has been added.

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The men’s team took NRC overall in 2013.

MEN

Returning:

Ryan Anderson

Jesse Anthony

Alex Candelario

Jeremy Durrin

Mike Friedman

Bjorn Selander

Tom Soladay

Tom Zirbel

Scott Zwizanski

Eric Young

 

Additions:

Brad Huff (from Jelly Belly-Kenda)

Carter Jones (from Bissell Pro Cycling)

Will Routley (from Accent Jobs-Wanty)

 

Not Returning:

Chad Haga (to Argos-Shimnao)

Ken Hanson (to UnitedHealthcare)

Marsh Cooper

Michael Creed

Mike Sherer (retirement)

Ian Moir

Sebastian Salas

 

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First year pro Brianna Walle will return in 2014.

WOMEN

Returning:

Annie Ewart

Leah Kirchmann

Courteney Lowe

Lauren Hall

Janel Holcomb

Joelle Numainville

Denise Ramsden

Brianna Walle

Jade Wilcoxson

 

Additions:

Maura Kinsella (from Now & Novartis)

Amber Pierce (from Diadora-Pasta Zara)

 

Not Returning:

Grace Alexander

Amber Gaffney

Optum Men’s team clinch NRC overall

Optum Men's team clinch NRC overall

Optum Men’s team clinch NRC overall

OptimHaga 3rd, Numvainville 4th in individual standings

September 10th | Minneapolis, MN

With a full calendar of road racing coming to a close, the Optum Pro Cycling presented by Kelly Benefits Strategies men’s team took the top spot on USA Cycling’s National Race Calendar (NRC) series, a longstanding measurement of success on the US circuit. Powered by strong individual performances during the NRC calendar year from Chad Haga (3rd overall, individual standings), Jesse Anthony (7th overall, individual standings), Tom Zirbel (8th overall, individual standings), and Mike Friedman (12th overall, individual standings), the men were able to finish the NRC calendar with a commanding lead in the team standings.

 

The Orange and Black outdistanced Team Jamis – Hagens Berman by nearly 600 points, with a final tally of 1738 points to 1186 points after the series’ final race, the Bucks County Classic in Doylestown, Pennsylvania.

[Read more…]

USA Pro Challenge -Optum Pro Cycling

USA Pro Challenge -Optum Pro Cycling

USA Pro Challenge -Optum Pro Cycling

Team Announces Roster

For Colorado’s Third Annual

USA Pro Challenge

August 16th | Minneapolis, MN

Optum Pro Cycling presented by Kelly Benefit Strategies announced its 8-man roster for Colorado’s UCI 2.HC ranked USA Pro Challenge, the United States’ final major stage race of 2013. Its seven stages will take riders from Aspen to Denver across nearly 600 miles of some of America’s most challenging roads. Coming just one week after similarly mountainous and high altitude Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah, the race will be a chance for the team to test itself against some of the world’s best teams, including Team Sky with Tour de France champion Chris Froome in tow.

 

“Our team is always grateful for the opportunity to compete in a race of this caliber,” said Performance Director Jonas Carney. “It’s exciting to go up against some of the best teams in the world. It’s late in the season, but our riders recognize that these chances don’t come all that often for a continental team, so they’ll show up motivated.”

 

Four of the eight riders on the roster raced at the Tour of Utah – Jesse Anthony, Alex Candelario, Marsh Cooper, and Mike Friedman. The quartet traveled directly to Colorado following the finish in Park City, to stay acclimated for the exceedingly high altitudes in play. Highlights include a trip up to 12,000 vertical feet on Colorado’s highest paved road over Independence Pass, and a return of the historic Vail Pass time trial, scorching lungs with a 1,694 foot climb over just 16 kilometers.

 

“It’s hard to appreciate how difficult it is to stage race at altitude unless you’ve done it before,” said Carney. “Racing at over 9000 feet is a different animal compared to racing at even 5000 feet. Many of our riders are from altitude, and anyone who isn’t has been acclimating for some time now. It’s just too difficult of a race and too high of altitude for our riders not to acclimate, so we have had riders living and training out here in the mountains to better prepare for the race.”

 

Boulder resident Tom Zirbel, who finished sixth at the 2012 edition of the race’s time trial in downtown Denver, is focused on a result on Vail Pass, a stage he has been targeting since it was announced in the early spring it would be returning to its rightful place on the Colorado stage lineup.

 

Alex Candelario, with multiple top fives in two editions of the race, along with sprinting powerhouse Ken Hanson and leadout experts Friedman and Tom Soladay, will look for opportunities in the flatter finishes. The Aspen/Snowmass and Denver circuits and stage three’s blistering trip from Breckenridge to Steamboat Springs will provide opportunities for a stage win against WorldTour sprinting talent.

 

All-rounder Ryan Anderson, signed to the team in June and who currently sits third on the UCI America Tour standings, should be a catalyst for the team in the Rocky Mountains. Carney likes his chances with the group he has assembled to contest the race.

 

“Altitude climbing isn’t really our biggest strength and so our focus will not be the overall,” he said. “Our team is going to be aggressive and opportunistic. We are bringing some strong sprinters in Candelario, Friedman, Hanson, and Anderson and we’ll be fighting for results in all of the sprints.”

 

 

2013 USA Pro Challenge Roster

Ryan Anderson

Jesse Anthony

Alex Candelario

Marsh Cooper

Mike Friedman

Ken Hanson

Tom Soladay

Tom Zirbel

 

2013 USA Pro Challenge Route

Stage 1 | Aspen/Snowmass Circuit Race | 106km

Stage 2 | Aspen — Breckenridge | 202km

Stage 3 | Breckenridge — Steamboat Springs | 170km

Stage 4 | Steamboat Springs — Beaver Creek | 165km

Stage 5 | Vail Pass time trial | 16km

Stage 6 | Loveland — Fort Collins | 185km

Stage 7 | Denver Circuit Race | 116km

 

 

Optum is a leading information and technology-enabled health services business dedicated to helping make the health system work better for everyone. Optum comprises three companies – OptumHealth, OptumInsight and OptumRx – representing more than 35,000 employees worldwide who collaborate to deliver integrated, intelligent solutions that work to modernize the health system and improve overall population health. Visit optum.com for more information.

 

Kelly Benefit Strategies is a group insurance brokers and consultants that specialize in healthcare, and is a division of Kelly & Associates Insurance Group, Inc, headquartered in Hunt Valley, Maryland. KBS serves thousands of employers ranging in size from small businesses to Fortune 500 companies and is committed to bringing its customers affordable group benefits through innovative benefit design, management, and administration. Visit www.kellybenefitstrategies.com for more information.

 

Minneapolis-based Circuit Global Sports Management facilitates strategic alliances between corporate partners and professional cycling initiatives. Previous high-profile clients include Cadillac, Red Bull, Panasonic, DKNY, Dollar Rent a Car, Jeep, Timberland, and the State of Minnesota. More information about Circuit Global Sports Management can be found atwww.circuitsport.com

 

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Recap- Awbry Butte Circuit Race-Tvetcov and McGrath win Cascade Cycling Classic Overall Classification.

Stage 5 Cascade Cycling Classic

Stage 5 Cascade Cycling Classic

Stage 5 – Awbry Butte Circuit Race.

Tvetcov and McGrath win Cascade Cycling Classic Overall Classification.
The circuit race is another long standing course for Cascade. It’s a challenging circuit with the main features being the climb out of Tumalo Park and the climb of Archie Briggs. The first climb is a main road climb leading to the feed zone and a long false flat leading to Archie Briggs. This climb begins with a fast twisting descent into a 15% wall followed by more false flat and kicking up to the final stair step KOM summit.  The rest of the course is undulating with fast descents and exposed sections. A well balanced course which comes at the end of an aggressive week of racing.
The men’s race began at 1 PM and as has been the case with every race so far, once the flag dropped at the end of e neutral zone, the attacks began. Immediately, the 150 man field was strung out as it serpentined across the road.  Small groups would escape only to be brought back. This  pattern continued past the first climb of Tumalo Park. The field stayed together but was single file over the top. The attacks continued with 5 Hour particularly active today. Once the over Archie Briggs a group of 20 was able to get away but this too was pulled back. The peloton, which was being lead primarily by Jelly Belly riding for yellow jersey wearer Tvetcov, was not going to let anything go unless it had the right combination of riders.
Coming into the Tumalo Park climb on lap 2, a group of 12 had managed to get off the front.  This group had 25 seconds over the top of the climb and quickly increased to 55 seconds entering Archie Briggs. The group was working well together with no one sitting on.  Flavio Deluna of SmartStop- Mountain Khakis took the KOM and the break had increased their gap to 1:15 over the peloton. The break was well represented with single riders from Bissell, Optum, Giant, Bontrager, BMC, Jelly Belly, 5 Hour, SmartStop, Hincapie, Astellas Oncology, and 2 Hagens Berman riders.
Lap 3 saw this gap increase to its largest gap of 1:45 as they crested the Tumalo Park climb. Deluna again took KOM over the Archie Briggs climb with the breaks gap at 1:15. Jelly Belly were controlling the break and riding strongly on the front. It seemed that the race was shaping up for a fast finale.
As lap 4 began, the gap was down to 1:05 and would drop to 40 seconds only to increase again to 1:10. Clearly the two groups were figuring out their tactics for the final phase of the race. As lap 5 began the peloton had swallowed up the break but two riders attacked and established a small gap. Eric Marcotte of Elbowz Racing p/b Boneshaker and James Oram of Bontrager Cycling held onto a tenuous 15 second gap all the way to the Archie Briggs climb. It was a strong move but just too much to ask with this motivated field behind. The race was all together leading into the fast final 5 km. Four riders managed to get a small gap leading into the final 500 meters of the race with Rosskopf of Hincapie Sportswear taking the spring with teammate Clark taking second and Mancebo of 5 Hour Energy p/b Kenda taking third.
It proved to be an important sprint win for Rosskopf. With the time bonuses available on the stage he jumped to 2nd overall.  Tvetcov of Jelly Belly p/b  Kenda took the overall honors with Chad Haga of Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies hanging onto 3rd
The women faced 3 laps and 51 miles of the Deschutes Brewery – Awbry Butte Circuit Race. With a more established GC, the race was really going to have to some fireworks to shake up the final. The women’s race was run at an aggressive pace as was evidenced by the continual number of riders shed off the back.  A motivated Team Exergy Twenty 16 did a very good job of controlling the race for their yellow jersey wearer McGrath.
The stage came down to two riders with Amanda Miller of Team TIBCO taking the days honors with Jade Wilcoxson of Optum p/b Kelly Benefits taking second. Lauren Rauck Komanski of NOM and Novartis for MS came in a minute later and took the sprint for 3rd.  McGrath came is few seconds off of  Haeusler of Team TIBCO but remained safely in yellow to take the final GC. Haeusler remained in 2nd overall with Abbott of TIBCO rounding out the podium.
The 2013 Cascade Cycling Classic produced some aggressive and tactical racing.  The women’s race saw an aggressive Team TIBCO race hard from the start and establish the hierarchy that would see McGrath take a well deserved win.  The men’s field was tightly contested with all the teams riding hard right to the final sprint.  At times it appeared to be a battle between the old and new guard with the final result being some fantastic racing.
The race is obviously embraced by the Bend community. The race organization and number of volunteers was impressive to say the least. It’s an incredible event that should remain in high standing on the NRC calendar or years to come.
-Travis Dixon

Magner,Hall Win Downtown Twilight Criterium

Twilight Crit Cascade

Twilight Crit Cascade

Stage 4, Bend Downtown Twilight Criterium took place Saturday July 20th. The men and women were able to enjoy a late start time to give their legs some needed recovery from the tough 4 days of racing they’ve experienced so far.  The rectangular course is a straight forward design. The only real ‘obstacle’ being turns 3 and 4 where the road narrows making positioning onto the long final straight important.  Essentially this translates into an extremely fast course.  The long finishing straight to the line puts an emphasis on teamwork and a solid lead out. Added to this was a headwind meaning that the winner would have to time their sprint perfectly.

The women were first to start. As has been e case throughout Cascade, the pace was high right from the gun. There were many attacks but apparently none had the right combination of teams represented or horsepower as the field remained together and strung out for the entire race.
As the riders began the final lap team NOW and Novartis for MS took charge at the front with three riders stringing out the remaining peloton.  The sprint was incredibly close and came down to a photo finish with Lauren Hall of team Optum p/b Kelly Benefits taking the win by the narrowest of margins. 2nd went to Shelley Olds of Team TIBCO with Allison Powersnof NOW and Novartis for MS rounding out the top three.  The GC remained unchanged with McGrath of Exergy Twenty 16 in yellow followed by Haeusler of Team TIBCO and Abbott of Exergy Twenty 16 in 3rd.
The men began at 7 PM but the temperatures remained high with many riders packing ice into their skinsuits in an attempt to keep their core temperature down before the fireworks began for the 75 minute race.  The men’s field had been reduced to 150 riders from the original 200 and the field would be much less than this by the finish.
The men’s race was full-on right from the gun. The 150 man field was single file for the first 20 minutes with many laps averaging over 32 mph. As the field began to show signs of strain under the unrelenting pace a group of 5 riders managed to get a gap.  This front group fluctuated in numbers from 5 to 3 to 8 and always hovering around 10 seconds. Team Jelly Belly and Team Cash Call kept the move in check. The break was finally reeled in at the 46 minute mark but the pace was beginning to take it’s toll on the rest of the field as riders were continually being dropped from the pack.  With roughly 10 minutes to go Team Elbowz Racing p/b Boneshaker took control of the front but it was team Optum with Tom Zirbel leading the way who took over with 3 laps to go. Zirbel put his TT legs to work and tapped out a lap and a half  at 32 mph when a crash on the backside of the course created a split. Optum controlled going into the final lap but it was the U23 national criterium champion,  Ty Magner of Hincapie Sportswear, who took the win. Jasper Stuyven of Bontrager Cycling Team 2nd with Ignazio Moser of BMC Development Team taking 3rd.  The GC remained with Tvetcov of Jelly Belly p/b Kenda leading, Haga of Optum p/b Kelly Benifit Strategies in 2nd, and Jakub Novak of BMC Development Team in 3rd.
Tomorrow concludes this edition of the Cascade Cycling Classic with the Aubry Butte Circuit Race. For the women, McGrath and her team seem to be in control but its a challenging course at the end of a week of aggressive racing. Haeusler and the rest of the field should make it interesting for team Exergy. On the men’s side, this race is still up for grabs.  There is only 9 seconds separating the top 3 and only a 1:15 separating the top 10.  Tomorrow should produce some incredible racing.
As a final note, the podium for tonight’s crit were all U23 men. Remember their names as I am sure we will be seeing more of them in the future.
Travis Dixon

Recap-Stage 3 Cascade Cycling Classic

Stage 3 Cascade Cycling Classic

Stage 3 Cascade Cycling Classic

Stage 3 of the Cascade Cycling Classic was run on the Cascade Lakes course. This is a long standing course for this event. The course doesn’t have the amount of climbing that Stage 1 but many in the field feel that this is the toughest stage. The course is unrelenting, constantly up and down and then finishes on the 5 km climb of Sparks Lake. This climb isn’t particularly steep but considering its placement on this stage, it certainly makes the legs and lungs hurt.

 

The men were to ride 90 miles. The BMC Development team had the responsibility of defending the yellow jersey for Novak and with this stacked pro field they definitely had their work cut out for them today. The race began with a 3 mile neutral and as soon as the flag dropped the attacks began. Groups of 10-20 riders would escape only to be brought back and then another group would break … BMC were placing men in each group but it was becoming clear that yellow jersey wearer Novak was not having a good day and many times BMC would call back their riders to help pace the yellow back and bring the group together. The other teams had no mercy and kept firing away at BMC until mile 61 when a nine man group was able to break clear. As the final climb began, the escapees were swept up and 5 Hour Energy p/b Kenda got to the front and set a hard pace in hope of launching Mancebo but the rest of the field was strong enough to resist the pace. Seghei Tvetcov of Jelly Belly p/b Kenda took the stage. This was his second stage win in as many days. Travis McCabe of Elbowz Racing p/b Boneshaker took second followed by Chad Haga of Team Optom p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies. Mancebo of 5 Hour Energy finished 5th with the same time as Tvetcov. Former yellow jersey Phillip Gaimon of Bissell Pro Cycling was 8th 2 seconds down. Novak finished 23rd for the day 17 seconds down followed by his teammate, Eisenthart.

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Cascade Cycling Classic: Prologue

Cascade Cycling Classic: Prologue

Cascade Cycling Classic: Prologue

The 34th annual Cascade Cycling Classic kicks off July 16, with the Prologue, in Bend Oregon. Its the oldest running consecutive stage race in North America , starting back in 1979. Sponsored by the Bend Memorial Clinic (BMC), the 5 day stage race is organized by the Mt. BachelorSki Education Foundation.

The prologue starts on Tuesdsy, at 6pm and is stacked with a majority of the NRC’s top five riders for both Pro men and women. This course is a counterclockwise loop, totaling at 2.5 miles, with less than 200 feet elevation gain, perfect for fast riders. Mancebo (5 hour Energy p/b Kenda), Haga and teammate Zirbel (Optum p/b Kelly Benefits) will be in the mens field. Haeusler, Olds (Team TIBCO), Powers (NOW and Novartis for MS), and Abbott (Exergy TWENTY 16) in the women’s.

The Cascade Cycling Classic’s placement in the latter half of the NRC series, makes it a critical stage race for top riders to gain individual and team points towards the overall standings. This and the list of high caliber racers, registered for the race, will make for a tight and exciting 5 days through central Oregon’s eastern slope of the Cascade mountain range. Historically, the race has always been held in high standing and a desirable edition for any individual and team to add to their palmares.

 

Want more: Here is a link to the 2012 Cascade Classic.

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Jesse Anthony (Optum)reflects on MBGP

 

Manhattan Beach Grand Prix

Jesse Anthony (Optum)reflects on MBGP

By : Jesse Anthony

Optum Pro Cycling | Presented By Kelly Benefit Strategies

I lined up in the field with about 70 riders and planned to race conservatively for the first half of the race. I floated in the field for a bit, while riders at the front unsuccessfully tried to sort out a break away. The race began to split apart slightly only a few laps in, so I jumped across a gap to a large, merging breakaway. My attack sounded the alarm bells and the field was soon welded back together.

I again retreated mid-pack to recover and see how things played out, but I sensed a lack of cohesion and firepower in the field. My teammate, Ian Moir, told me that his legs were taking a long time to warm up, so I stayed attentive of the moves going off the front. Around the 20 minute mark I again jumped across the gap to a pair of attacking riders, bringing 1 rider with me. As soon as the 4 of us got together we began working together smoothly to establish a gap. There was hesitation in the field and we quickly gained 20 seconds.

The 4 of us now settled into a rhythm and I encouraged the guys to keep the tempo steady and see how the field reacted. I wanted our group to stay together because everyone was working so well together and we still had nearly an hour still to race. Our gap grew slowly to 30 and then 35 seconds and remained there through the meat of the race. Coming into the final half hour we twisted the throttle just a hair and our gap opened to 40 seconds with 20 minutes to go.

Our group was still rotating fluidly which ultimately ensured our success. In the last 15 minutes I tried to shake myself lose from my breakaway partners as I was confident the gap would hold. I didn’t want it to come down to a sprint, which I see as comparable with letting an MMA fight come down to the judges. I was unable to get away, though, and settled for sprinting it out. I was confident going into the sprint and came though the last corner in 2nd place. The rider in front of me, Brandon Gritters, led out the sprint from fairly far out and I jumped with 150 meters to go. I had enough speed to hold off the other 2 riders and very excitedly secured my first win in 2013.

I am really happy to win such a prestigious race and one of the oldest criteriums in California. I’m also excited for the upcoming Cascade Cycling classic and hitting the 2nd half of the season with some happy legs.

Big thanks to Acura for supporting us in their home region and keeping us mobile all around North America.

-Jesse Anthony