Oakland, Calif. – Momentum Sports Group, owner and operator of the UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team, announced today, Tuesday, October 29, it has officially named four team directors to lead its 2014 men’s and women’s squads.
General Manager/Team Director, Mike Tamayo, remains at the helm of a Blue Train squad that captured the 2013 UCI America Tour crown along with winning both the individual and team titles in the 2013 National Criterium Calendar (NCC) and 2013 USA CRITS Series.
Now entering his eighth season as GM/Team Director for Team UnitedHealthcare, Tamayo will once again be joined by Hendrik Redant, who returns for a fourth year, in leading the charge for the 23-man/12-woman roster.
Rounding out the Blue Train’s group of directors are two more, well-decorated veterans of the sport in Roberto Damiani (who worked with the team briefly in 2013), and new arrival, Rachel Heal, who joins the US based pro continental outfit from her most recent stint as a team director with Optum Pro Cycling’s women’s team. Damiani and Heal should prove to be significant factors in the team’s quest to further strengthen a unit that amassed 40 wins, 99 podiums placements and 211 top 10 finishes over the past 10 months.
(Photo: L-R: Mike Tamayo, Roberto Damiani, Thierry Attias (Team President), Hendrik Redant)
Commenting on each of his directors, Tamayo relayed both praise and confidence in their ability to deliver the 2014 edition of the Blue Train to the line successfully. In addition, the directors each shared their thoughts and expectations for the upcoming season:
“Roberto is passionate about his work and believes in teamwork and the basic concept of a team. This is an essential quality I was looking for when identifying another director to represent who we are and lead our riders. Roberto did some projects with us in 2013 and not only led the team to success, but he got the attention and respect of the athletes, and that is a top priority.”
– Mike Tamayo
Roberto Damiani is an experienced director who has enjoyed successful stints with teams such as Mapei, FassaBortolo, Liquigas, Lpr, Lotto, Lampre, and the Italian National U23 Team. Damiani worked briefly with Team UnitedHealthcare in 2013 and is set to enter his first full year with Tamayo and company.
Eager to kick off the 2014 season, Damiani said, “I had the opportunity to work with Team UnitedHealthcare in several races last season and I found the team to be very motivated, organized and professional. I am very happy to be a part of this organization again in 2014.”
“Mike, Hendrik and Rachel are very good,” Damiani continued. “This is a very smart and a great group of directors to work with. I respect their professionalism and enjoy their friendship. From the riders to the staff and management, this organization has strong values and great focus. The team is strong and well structured. It is a first class operation and I am looking forward to helping the team grow in Europe while working together with everyone to compete for the win in all races this season.”
“Hendrik has been with us for a while and he is simply outstanding. He enjoyed a great career as an athlete; and as a director, he is fantastic. His reputation speaks for itself.”
“Our 2013 season was filled with ups and downs thanks to some bad luck and injuries. But no matter how many curve balls were thrown Hendrik’s way, he kept on swinging and hitting them. He has been the foundation of who we are in Europe and I am certain that the combination of his friendship over the years with Roberto along with their shared experience working together will only continue to make our team better.” – Mike Tamayo
Hendrik Redant enjoyed a storied career, winning 51 races as a professional cyclist. The legendary Belgian athlete has been in cycling for more than 30 years, including 10 years as a pro (1987-1997) with several international teams such as Lotto, Robland-Isoglass, ZG-Mobili, Collstrop, TVM and more. Prior to joining Team UnitedHealthcare in August of 2011, he directed teams such as LOTTO-DOMO, Davitamon-Lotto, Predictor-Lotto, Silence-Lotto, and Omega Pharma-Lotto.
(Photo: Redant going over results at the 2013 Coppi e Bartali)
The affable Belgian shared his thoughts on the addition of his two new colleagues as well as his outlook for 2014:
“A few years ago I made the decision to join the UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team and I could not be happier,” Redant said. “Having Roberto and Rachel join us will make us that much stronger and shows we continue to move in the right direction.”
“Working with Roberto Damiani is like coming home again. We have been working together for several years at the highest level in pro cycling as we were both directors with (Belgian World Tour team) Lotto, and enjoyed several runs together at the Giro d’Italia, Tour de France and Vuelta a Espana. Roberto has also been a general manager with one of the biggest Italian teams (Lampre) and I’m sure he will have great ideas to help our UnitedHealthcare Team grow to World Tour status,” Redant added.
(Photo: Hendrik Redant (left) and Roberto Damiani (right) at the Tour of Alberta, September 2013)
“I am sure Rachel will do an outstanding job as director for our new women’s team. She has been in cycling for a long time and is a well-qualified personal trainer, so she knows how to fine-tune an athlete. Rachel will be a great asset to our team and will also help with our men’s team. I am really looking forward to working with her next year,” Redant concluded.
“Rachel is world-class, having raced in the Athens Olympics, World Championships, Commonwealth Games, and every major race in the world. In addition she has successfully directed the Colavita and (most recently) Optum Pro Cycling Women’s Team.”
“I had the opportunity to work with Rachel as a rider during her racing days. She was one of my riders in 2005-2006 (when Tamayo led the Victory Brewing team) and since then, I’ve watched her transition from professional athlete to director and lead teams successfully. She cares about the projects in a way that fits well with our team and organization.”
“Rachel’s years of experience on the bike and in the directors seat bodes well for us. When you have that much experience and skill along with the ability to lead the great roster of pro women riders we have assembled, that is a killer combination.”
– Mike Tamayo
Rachel Heal began her racing career more than a decade ago in 2001. She spent three years riding for Great Britain’s National team before moving to the powerhouse Dutch Farm Frites Team before crossing the Atlantic to race for the US based Victory Brewing Team in 2006 and then on to Colavita. She retired after the 2009 season, but not before her storied career saw her represent Great Britain at the 2004 Athens Olympic Games, the 2002 and 2006 Commonwealth Games, and 7 World Championships.
(Photo: Heal at Redlands Classic, 2011)
Heal, who most recently led the way for the Optum Pro Cycling Women’s Team, will enjoy an expanded role in 2014 as a team director with UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling. Her duties will include directing both the women and men’s teams, and like her counterparts, Heal is enthusiastic when talking about her role with the team and thoughts on the upcoming season.
“I am looking forward to joining the UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team,” Heal said. “I’ve had the opportunity to see the professional way in which the men’s team is run and really like its focus and drive.”
“There is a lot of attention on women’s cycling and it is a great time for a team like UnitedHealthcare to step up and create a new team that is given the same professional treatment as the men’s team. I’m very happy to be a part of it. The team has an amazing wealth of experience among the directors and I look forward to being able to learn from and work with them along with contributing to both the men’s and women’s teams’ success.”
“Joining a new team is always a bit of a leap, especially when the team is new. But the men’s team has set a great winning example and the women’s team has been put together with the same philosophy, so I’m confident the women’s team is going to be a great success in its first season.”
(Photo: Heal celebrates with one of her riders at Redlands Classic in 2011)
“This is a great group of women that has been put together for 2014. We have a good mix of riders with both youth and experience. Each rider has very different strengths and personalities. I’m confident this is a group capable of winning any race it enters,” Heal concluded.