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.

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Three Wins in Three Days for Team Optum



Three Wins in Three Days for Team at Tour de Delta, Manhattan Beach Grand Prix

Kirchmann, Hanson Win in British Columbia, Anthony Claims 1st Win of 2013 in California

July 8th | Minneapolis, MN

The team resumed racing with a bang this weekend after a brief hiatus following the Nature Valley Grand Prix, claiming three wins in three days around North America. With both men’s and women’s teams contesting the traditional BC Superweek opener, the Tour de Delta, Ken Hanson opened up the win column in Saturday’s Brenco Criterium, proudly displaying his US Criterium Champion colors, arms held high, to enthusiastic crowds in British Columbia.


Winnipeg native Leah Kirchmann followed things up with a victory in Sunday’s White Spot | Delta Road Race, adding an exclamation point for the Orange and Black in the three-race omnium series.

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Optum Seeing Double Yellow


Jade Wilcoxson Wins Stage Three of Nature Valley Grand Prix, Mike Friedman Finishes Second to Take Overall Lead

Jade Wilcoxson Wins Stage Three of Nature Valley Grand Prix, Mike Friedman Finishes Second to Take Overall Lead

Jade Wilcoxson Wins Stage Three of Nature Valley Grand Prix, Mike Friedman Finishes Second to Take Overall Lead

June 14th | Minneapolis, MN

Optum Pro Cycling presented by Kelly Benefit Strategies continued its dominance of their hometown Nature Valley Grand Prix yesterday at the Cannon Falls Road Race, delivering Jade Wilcoxson to the top step of the podium for the women, and Mike Friedman to the runner-up step for the men.


Friedman took the yellow jersey from Serghei Tvetcov (Jelly Belly p/ b Kenda) and the lead in the sprinter’s competition after a day of tactical racing by his teammates helped put separation between the man known as Meatball and Tvetcov.


It was the third consecutive day of racing in Minnesota with multiple Optum p/b KBS athletes on the podium, and Wilcoxson’s victory and subsequent 12-second time bonus pushed her further into the overall lead she claimed at Wednesday night’s criterium. Both teams head into the weekend of racing in a familiar spot – defending the overall.

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Optum Rolls Into Chattanooga For USPRO Championship


Optum Rolls Into Chattanooga For USPRO Championship

Optum Rolls Into Chattanooga For USPRO Championship

Men, Women Roll Into Chattanooga For USPRO Championship

Road Race and Time Trial

May 24th | Minneapolis, MN

This Memorial Day weekend marks the 2013 US National Professional Cycling Championships, which comes to Chattanooga, Tennessee for the first time in its 28 year history. It is the first time both the men and women will be racing concurrently for the USPRO stars and stripes, in both the time trial and road race disciplines.


The men’s team comes off a highly successful Amgen Tour of California, where Chad Haga captured 10th overall against some of the top riders in the world and the squad finished top-8 in 6 stages including a 2nd place on Stage 4 by Ken Hanson. Jade Wilcoxson finished 4th in the Tour of California Women’s TT while the rest of the women’s squad split duties in Canada as well, grabbing multiple podiums at the UCI 1.1 ranked GP Gatineau and Chrono Gatineau. Optum Pro Cycling presented by Kelly Benefit Strategies come to Chattanooga with high hopes to add another national championship to their ranks.


The women’s push for a championship will be led by Wilcoxson, who finished 2nd in the 2012 NRC rankings, and Janel Holcomb, the 2011 NRC Champion and recent stage winner and 3rd overall at the Tour of the Gila. Sprinter Lauren Hall should be an ace-in-the-hole in case of a field sprint having led out teammate Joelle Numainville at Gatineua and still coming home in 4th on the day. Newcomer Brianna Walle continues to impress as well in her debut pro season. Rounding out the roster to contest the stars and stripes will be Amber Gaffney and Grace Alexander.


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Joe Martin Stage Race: Amber Gaffney, Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies

San Dimas Stage Race Stage One Glendora mountain Road Time Trial

Joe Martin Stage Race:

Amber Gaffney, Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies

I thought that I knew just two things about Arkansas before I arrived in Fayetteville for Joe Martin Stage race (JMSR): 1) it has dry, dusty, flat terrain; 2) it is the birthplace of Bill Clinton (Hope, AS). I was half right with regards to my knowledge of the state- Fayetteville is green with rolling hills and beautiful trees (and of course, it is the birth state of our former president).

JMSR starts with a 2.5-mile hill climb TT. The start of the TT is in the forest floor of Devil’s Den and we warmed-up among the trees. The course averages approximately 6-6.5% grade- it is beautiful and fun! Claudia Haeusler of Tibco took the top spot with a very quick time of 9:27:73 (I think that this might be the quickest time on this course from the posted results online which date back to 2003). Powers (NOW), Stephens (FCS), and our own Brie Walle followed her closely. [Read more…]

Joelle Numainville Takes First Win of 2013 at Joe Martin Stage Race

Joelle Numainville Takes First Win of 2013 at Joe Martin Stage Race

Joelle Numainville Takes First Win of 2013 at Joe Martin Stage Race

Entering the winner’s circle for the first time in 2013, Optum Pro Cycling presented by Kelly Benefit Strategies’ Joelle Numainville captured victory this weekend in the tough, rainy third stage of Fayetteville, Arkansas’ Joe Martin Stage Race. 


Following up a top-ten in the opening time trial, where rookie sensation Brianna Walle turned in an impressive 4th, Numainville showed off her powerful kick in the fast finish of stage two, narrowly losing to Shelley Olds of Now and Novartis for MS, and moving up the GC standings to 5th overall, thanks to some great finishing support from Walle.


“Brianna and Joelle made a great team this weekend at Joe Martin, and it shows how well our leadout is starting to click,” said Performance Director Rachel Heal. “We had some near misses for sure, but it felt great to capture a win in one of the race’s most difficult stages.”


Coming into the queen stage of the race, Numainville and rest of the potent orange and black team knew that they had the speed to pull off a win if they could control the uphill finish. With an early breakaway hovering around the 30-second mark, the team was able to sit in, letting the rival Team Tibco handle the bulk of the pulling in efforts to protect their yellow jersey. With five kilometers to go, the peloton kicked it up another notch, reeling in the breakaway. This lead to repeated attacks, but all were quickly neutralized, and it became evident to Heal that the race would end in a sprint.


“After an array of attacks late in the race, things settled down, and Brianna nailed the leadout. Joelle timed her sprint to perfection and took a hard-fought stage win.”


The stage win was Numainville’s first, and also vaulted her into the lead in the sprinter’s jersey fight.


In the final criterium, the team had their work cut out for them if they hoped to defend Joelle’s green jersey, with several opportunities for points on the  course. From the gun, the team weathered non-stop attacks and worked in unison to place Walle and Numainville in the early breakaway. The duo worked together, gathering points at the intermediate sprint line to further increase the lead.  Walle set up her sprinter nicely through the final corner, and Numainville gave it her all, finishing third on the final stage podium. The team’s efforts were enough to capture the Canadian sprinter her first green jersey of 2013.


“Joelle has repeatedly shown her ability to compete in every race she has entered, and we are confident that she will be able to meet the goals she has set for 2013,” added Heal.


The women and men of Optum p/b KBS head next to New Mexico’s hot, dry, mountainous SRAM Tour of the Gila. It will be another chance to show America what its top team is capable of in a stage race setting.


Read about the Optum p/b KBS men’s team’s efforts at Joe Martin, which included a yellow jersey for Chad Haga.

San Dimas Stage Race by Brianna Walle (OPTUM pb Kelly Benefit Strategies)

San Dimas Stage Race by Brianna Walle (OPTUM pb Kelly Benefit Strategies)

San Dimas Stage Race
by Brianna Walle (OPTUM pb Kelly Benefit Strategies)

San Dimas Stage Race

by Brianna Walle (OPTUM pb Kelly Benefit Strategies)


WOW!  What a crazy weekend! We were a squad of 5 this time down at the San Dimas Stage Race (home of the film “Bill and Ted’s Awesome Adventure” – “go San Dimas Football!”) Our squad included Leah Kirchman, Courtney Lowe, Amber Gaffney, Lauren Hall and me. I was super stoked to see what we could pull off in our 2nd race together as a team this season (my 2nd pro race ever) and, CRIKEY, did we pull if off well!


Stage 1- Uphill Time Trial

The TT consisted of a 4.25 mile climb with 1,257 feet of elevation gain and grades of 4.5-6.5%.  I sort of imagined this stage as my commute to work in Portland, which includes a 6-mile, 7%-10% average grade climb, but as I was racing, I pretended that I was super late to my day-job in the customer service department at Yakima. I pretended that if I came in after 18 minutes I was fired! Sometimes visualizations are super key to motivation. During the TT, it became apparent that I might secure us a top 5 or 10, maybe just roughly calculating how riders did in previous years, even though the course was shorter. I just kept in my drops, head down, and motored away following my heart rate and speed as my guide.  When I came across the line, I was seated, which was what I was aiming for. I planned to lay out everything I had during the course of the race, leaving nothing for the end, not even a standing final sprint. By the time I finished, wiped the drool from my face, and headed down the windy descent to meet Rachel my team manager, I found out I placed 4th with a time of 17:28:67, about 46 seconds behind Mara Abbott! WHAT?! At that point, I think we realized that as a team we could move up to 3rd in GC and had two stages to accomplish this via time sprint bonuses during the RR and crit. [Read more…]

Old Pueblo Grand Prix by Leah Kirchmann

Leah Kirchmann of OPTUM p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies takes the win

Old Pueblo Grand Prix

by Leah Kirchmann


I was very excited to get my first win of the season at the 2013 Optum/TMC Old Pueblo Grand Prix in Tucson, AZ!  There was some pressure heading into the event, with Optum as a title sponsor and me racing as defending champion. Optum p/b KBS had a strong roster with Annie, Amber, Lauren and me. As a team, we knew we would benefit from a hard and aggressive race. If it came down to a bunch sprint, the plan was for the team to set up a leadout for me.

[Read more…]

Optum Race Coverage Merco Cycling Classic


Both teams commenced stage racing for the first time in 2013 yesterday, taking on the Merco Cycling Classic in Merced, CA. Merco, the traditional Southern California early season opener, is a classic American cycling event celebrating its 20th anniversary this year with a new four-day format.For the women, it will be the first official race of ’13 – a five-women team will tackle the four-stage affair, which commenced yesterday with the Merced Irrigation District Road Race. Men’s Performance Manager Eric Wohlberg and Women’s Performance Director Rachel Heal accompanied their respective teams.”After a great training camp in Oxnard, the team is excited to get the racing started and Merced is a great race to kick things off,” said Heal. “As the first in a block of early season California races, Merco always attracts a high quality women’s field, and we are taking a small but solid team of 5 to tackle the new stage race format, a team I know is well suited to handle the variety of challenging stages we see here.”Chad Haga and new recruit Lauren Hall both delivered top-five finishes in the rolling hills of stage one, putting both riders within striking distance heading into today’s critical 12-mile time trial.

The new 2013 format sees racers tackling two road races, a criterium, and today’s TT, which will hold considerable weight in determining the overall winner. Haga, fresh off of wind tunnel testing in San Diego, sitting 1:01 back on GC, will look to jump places on the 12-mile course.

“It will be interesting to see what Chad can do in the time trial today, especially after working with HED’s Dino Edin in the wind tunnel a few weeks ago,” said Wohlberg. “For our team, Merco is a good way to blow out the cobwebs in a competitive, stage based environment. The first race of the season is normally a pretty low key event for us, and this isn’t our official ‘first race’ – that would be Redlands later this month. Regardless, our guys will be fired up and gunning for the win.”

Ken Hanson and Tom Soladay, getting a jump on ’13 racing last week, took home wins two and three for Optum p/b KBS in Southern California, following up Courteney Lowe’s national championship victory in New Zealand a few months prior. Soloday claimed victory at the inaugural Valley of Fire stage race in Overton, and US Criterium Champion Ken Hanson shed what little rust he had on his potent sprinting legs to raise his arms at the 27th Annual Original Merced Criterium.


Merco Cycling Classic Rosters

Annie Ewart
Amber Gaffney
Lauren Hall
Leah Kirchmann
Brianna Walle

Jesse Anthony
Alex Candelario
Chad Haga
Ken Hanson
Ian Moir
Tom Soladay
Tom Zirbel

Optum Pro Cycling Presented by Kelly Strategies Team Presentation


By Kevin Hunter

There was plenty of optimism at the 2013 launch party for the Optum Pro Cycling Presented by Kelly Strategies team at the American Honda Museum in Torrance, CA on Feb. 15. After all, this is a team that in its seventh year of existence (second with Optum) enjoyed one of the best seasons in its history, so there were plenty of smiles all around as well as enthusiasm as the team prepares for its first event of the season on Feb. 28 in the Merco Cycling Classic in Merced, CA.

Last season the Optum Pro Cycling Presented by Kelly Strategies men’s and women’s teams had a combined 90 wins and went to the podium a total of 209 times. The women has a slight edge at the podium going up 109 times to the men’s 100, as Optum Pro Cycling Presented by Kelly Strategies team clearly establishing itself as one of the, if not the best men’s and women’s team in North American and the world. Yes it was definitely a year to look back on with a great sense of accomplishment and to celebrate going into 2013.

But with the season just a couple of weeks away, some of the celebration and optimism could lead to pressure as this team is now faced with the reality of topping last season’s totals and wondering where does it go from here. There will be no room for letdown and last season’s stellar results make the Optum Pro Cycling Presented by Kelly Strategies men’s and women’s teams the ones that everyone else will be chasing. [Read more…]