Janez Brajkovič Joins UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling

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Photo © Metod Mocnik

The UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team is pleased to welcome Slovenian cyclist Janez Brajkovič to the squad for the 2015 and 2016 seasons. Brajkovič comes to the program with an impressive list of wins at the top of the sport, including overall victory at the 2012 Tour of Slovenia, 2010 Critérium du Dauphiné, and 2007 Tour de Georgia.  Brajkovič started his professional career in 2005 after winning the under-23 World Championship time trial in 2004, and confirmed his abilities as an all-around rider and a top-level general classification contender when he rode to 9th place overall in the 2012 Tour de France. As a part of the UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team, Brajkovič bolsters an already strong team of talented athletes, adding significant power in the time trial discipline and overall classification.

Brajkovič commented, “I’m very excited to join the UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team. I’m extremely motivated and I know we’ll have great years together. I’m ready to lead when appropriate, and also to work for my new team as the race and situation demands it. Teamwork is a very strong component with this program and I’m looking forward to contributing to that.” Goals for the 2015 season include weeklong stage races in Europe and the United States, especially races like the Amgen Tour of California, Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah, and USA Pro Challenge, which suit Brajkovič’s riding style and are particularly important to the UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team.
General manager Mike Tamayo commented, “Jani was looking for a team where he could be a leader and get back to his winning ways, where teamwork is a primary focus. An atmosphere in which the team will rally behind him and one that he can also give back to. We can provide that tight-knit community and level of support to get Jani back to a place where he is winning races. He’s a great fit for the UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team, as a rider and a personality.”

SCNCA Makes Changes To The 2015 SoCal Cup.

The SCNCA is announcing changes to the 2015 SoCal Cup. For more than a decade,
the SoCal Cup has been one of the key drivers for riders and promoters in the SCNCA
district.
The SoCal Cup is moving away from having all races (that meet minimum
qualifications) being eligible. Starting in 2015, the SoCal Cup will be hosted by
approximately 20 races. These races are well-established events that deliver a great
experience for the racers. These are races that traditionally draw large fields, and
provide a challenging yet safe course.
The makeup of the races include all SCNCA Road Race and Criterium championships,
the SCNCA Individual Time Trial Championships, two Stage Races, one omnium, one
circuit race, three road races, and eleven criteriums.
The point values for the events will remain unchanged, as will points being award to
the top 12 places in each category. All existing Elite and Junior racer categories will
remain the same. The master’s categories will be 40+ 1-3, 45+ 1-3, and 50/55+ Cat
1-4. The only team category will be “Best All-Around Team”. The split seasons for
Cat 3s and Cat 4s are being eliminated.
The 2015 SoCal Cup will begin with the Boulevard Road Race on Jan 31st and end
with the final race of the popular Ontario series on August 19th. Additional details
will be made available in the next few weeks.

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Team Surf City Cyclery/Sterling BMW Strengthens Ties with Samsung

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Team Surf City Cyclery/Sterling BMW is proud to announce Samsung USA has signed on as “presenting sponsor” for the 2015 season.  Samsung, a leader in home and mobile electronics, will support the team with funding and equipment, including cellphones and wrist worn devices.  “We’re beyond excited” said team manager Mike Faello. “Samsung’s commitment to the team means we will finally have a budget to travel out of state to attend some of the larger events like Tulsa Tough and others.”

 

Also new for 2015 is nutritional-Hydration sponsor GQ6 and clothing sponsor Eliel Cycling.  GQ6 is the brain child of former MRI Endurance General Manager Richard Hiraga.  GQ6 will capitalize on Hiraga’s extensive knowledge of nutritional supplements to aid in performance during the season.  Eliel Cycling, founded by former Sock Guy owner Ryan Cady, will provide as Ryan stated “a higher level of custom product made with the best performing materials and constructed with features and precise fit to support the racing and performance rider’s needs”.  We extremely excited to be working with both innovative visionaries.

 

Returning for the third consecutive year is the team’s co-title sponsor, Sterling BMW of Newport Beach.  Sterling has been an ardent supporter of local cycling, not just with the team, but also as a major contributor for the Dana Point Grand Prix of Cycling.  Also returning is men’s performance athletic gear manufacturer Athletic Recon, gel provider Crank Sports eGel, nutrition bar manufacturer Bonk Breaker, Wheel and control provider Profile Design, joint and flexibility enhancer Play Again.  Additionally, Specialized Bicycles will be back as bike, tire, shoe and helmet sponsor  and Troy Lee Designs will provide gear bags, gloves and some custom additions .  Lastly, Matrix Racing Products will provide much needed race supplies and No Limits America will provide vehicle wraps and graphics.

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Roster Additions Bolster Team Depth

The team is also proud to announce the acquisition of 4 key riders in the offseason.  Max Hernandez-formerly of Incycle and Kirk Bausch, Derek Brauch and Aaron Wimberely-formerly of Spy/Giant/Ride . Their combined experience and race depth will provide much needed support to the team as they race in new venues outside of California.  Returning as Team Ambassador, 2012 Olympic Silver Medalist, Dotsie Bausch.  Dotsie will contribute technical coaching advice, power data analysis and racing expertise.  Additionally, Dotsie will be laying the groundwork for an upcoming women’s team she’ll be leading in 2016.  Dotsie is the founder of Empower Coaching Systems.

 

Team SmartStop Announce 13-man Roster for 2015 Season

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Winston-Salem, North Carolina – October 27, 2014: Preparations for the 2015 racing season are in full swing with Team SmartStop filling a 13-man roster for the upcoming year.

As previously announced, USA National Champion Eric Marcotte and USA Cycling National Racing Calendar winner Travis McCabe will return to Team SmartStop in 2015 after a stellar season.

Alongside the pair, we welcome back the Canadian trio of GC contender Rob Britton, Team Captain Zach Bell and U23 Canadian Time Trial National Champion Kristofer Dahl. In 2014 Britton achieved top three general classification podium results in the Vuelta Independencia Nacional, Tour of the Gila and Tour de Beauce and will once again be a key contender in major events.

Despite a collarbone injury midway through the season Bell was an integral member of Team SmartStop and will again fulfill the role of team captain. Creed said: “Zach is an unbelievable professional, he surprised me throughout the year, we knew he was going to be a really nice, strong guy but we saw him drop some really good climbers at Bucks County. I have no more expectations or goals for him but we will be looking to put him in a position to win a UCI race. He knows where he is at and where I need him to be.”

After a thrilling year with Team SmartStop, Jure Kocjan will return to the squad bringing his experience and leadership to the squad. The 2014 UCI America’s Tour individual winner had a strong comeback year with the team and has pledged his support towards continuing building the squad.

Sprinter Shane Kline, all-rounder Travis Livermon, alongside climbers Julian Kyer and Flavio De Luna are the remaining returning riders. For Creed it was satisfying to be able to bring back so much of his original team: “More than a few had offers from other teams, it is a tremendous compliment and I really think it shows where we are at.”

In 2015, Team SmartStop welcomes three new faces to the team; Evan Huffman heads back to the USA from Europe after racing for two years with the Astana Pro Cycling team. Evan will fill a gap that Creed has identified from his 2014 squad. With his time trial skills, Team SmartStop will become even more competitive in all areas of stage racing.

Bobby Sweeting and Chris Butler will join us from the 5Hr Energy Team and Hincapie Development Team respectively. Sweeting has proven success on the road after an extensive career racing on the American racing scene. Butler, the young rider from South Carolina, finished in the top 15 on the mountainous stages at the Tour of Utah this year and will be a top contender for mountaintop finishes throughout the 2015 season.

“I noticed a consistent weakness,” said Creed, “We were inconsistent in our time trials but with the addition of Evan and Bobby we have made up for that.”

Team SmartStop is excited to welcome the new riders to the squad and for the return of key members, through this squad Creed believes that the team will be just as strong as the 2014 team and hopes to emulate the achievements of his first year as a Sport Director.

With a podium finish in every race they attended, wearing the yellow jersey at the Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah, Team SmartStop came out in 2014 firing on all cylinders. But despite being without that initial element of surprise going into the 2015 season Creed explains that the teams racing style will not change.

“We did fly a little bit beneath the radar but that excuse was gone by the time Winston-Salem [Cycling Classic] was gone, if people didn’t take us seriously by then it was their own fault. Our racing style won’t be impacted, we will be aggressive, on our toes, and we will race to win. I don’t see it as a challenge.”

Creed has three major goals for the team in 2015 including another national championship win, representing Team SmartStop at the Team Time Trial World Championships in Richmond in September and that elusive stage win at a Medalist race.

 

The full 2015 Team SmartStop roster is:
Zach Bell

Rob Britton

Chris Butler

Kristofer Dahl

Flavio De Luna

Evan Huffman

Shane Kline

Jure Kocjan

Julian Kyer

Travis Livermon

Eric Marcotte

Travis McCabe

Bobby Sweeting

 

Alison Powers Announces Retirement

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After an outstanding year racing with the UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team around the world and representing the United States at the 2014 UCI Road World Championships, Alison Powers will retire from professional cycling and transition into the next chapter of her life. Looking back over her career, Powers commented, “It has been a pretty amazing career! I have won or been part of a team that has won almost every single race in the United States. All of my cycling goals have been accomplished and I feel very satisfied leaving the sport. I’m proud to have won the Tour of the Gila criterium in 2006, my first year doing NRC races, and then to have won it again this year, my last year racing.”

Alison Powers came to the team with a long list of accomplishments; a Pan American time trial championship title, the US National criterium championship title, and general classification wins at the Joe Martin Stage Race, Cascade Classic Stage Race, and Redlands Classic. In her incredible final season, Powers won the overall classification at the Tour de Femenino de San Luis, took victory in the Amgen Tour of California time trial, and claimed US national titles in both the road and time trial disciplines among many other impressive victories while wearing the blue and white of the UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team. Alison said, “Being a part of the UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team has been wonderful. This year felt like I was getting my ‘master’s degree’ in bike racing. I am so proud and happy to have been part of the team– and also sad to leave the program, my teammates, and the staff. They are all really wonderful people who took great care of me and taught me to become a better and more complete bike racer.”

In retirement, Powers plans to spend more time at home with family and friends in Colorado, while remaining active on her bike and Nordic skis. She will put more emphasis on her coaching business, ALP Cycles Coaching, allowing her share her racing skills and training expertise with other athletes. Powers concluded, “The past 10 years of my life as a bike racer have been really wonderful. I feel so lucky to have had this kind of hard work, team camaraderie, and success in my life. I really love riding my bike, and to know I have accomplished so much feels really wonderful and happy. I can leave the sport with a smile on my face and two current national championship jerseys.” General manager Mike Tamayo added, “Alison was instrumental in creating this program and yielding the one of the most successful seasons for a women’s team ever, especially a debut season. Not only is Alison is an extremely valuable rider in terms of her own results, the knowledge she brought as a coach, mentor, and racer was invaluable to the rest of the team. Alison will always be a part of the UnitedHealthcare Blue Train family, and will continue to stay involved with the team as a high-performance advisor and mentor to riders.” The UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team wishes Powers the best in her retirement and thanks her for her contributions to the program as a rider and a leader.

Le Tour 2015 route

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Running from Saturday July 4th to Sunday July 26th 2015, the 102th Tour de France will be made up of 21 stages and will cover a total distance of 3,344 kilometres (before ratification).

9 flat stages
3 hilly stages
7 mountain stages including 5 summit finishes
1 individual time trial
1 team time trial
2 rest days
Distinctive aspects of the race
21 and 6
This 21st Grand Départ from abroad will also be the 6th from the Netherlands which is a record. The Tour will then spend two days in Belgium before reaching France.

A MINI PARIS – ROUBAIX
Like in 2014, the peloton will have its share of cobbled portions during stage 4 between Seraing and Cambrai. There will be seven sectors over a distance of 13.3 kilometres.

MUR AND MÛR
Two final climbs will spice up the first week of racing. First of all, the climb up the Mur de Huy (1.3 km at 9.6%), which is the traditionnal finish of the Flèche Wallonne, where stage 3 will end. Then, the climb up the Côte de Mûr de Bretagne (2 km at 6.9% with some passages at 15%), known as the Alpe-d’Huez of Britanny and already on the course in 2011, where the finish of stage 8 will take place.

L’ALPE-D’HUEZ ON THE PENULTIMATE DAY With its 13.8-km ascent and its famous 21 bends, the real Alpe-d’Huez will be the final showdown of the 2015 Tour with the summit finish of stage 20. A mountain top finish on the eve of the finish on the Champs-Élysées had already occurred in 2009 with the Mont Ventoux and in 2013 at Annecy-Semnoz.
6 new stage cities
Utrecht (start of stages 1 and 2)
Zélande (finish of stage 2)
Livarot (start of stage 7)
La Pierre-Saint-Martin(finish of stage 10)
Muret (start of stage 13)
Sèvres – Grand Paris Seine Ouest(start of stage 21)

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