Fresh off the heels of one of the team’s greatest performances at the Amgen Tour of California, Optum Pro Cycling presented by Kelly Benefit Strategies heads to Greenville, North Carolina this weekend to tackle the USA Cycling Championship Series, featuring the 115-mile US Road Race Championship and 21-mile US Time Trial Championship. The race is approached with a unique ferocity by America’s top riders, seeking the glory of the gold medal and stars and stripes jersey in each discipline. Performance Director Jonas Carney knows his eleven-man roster will stop at nothing to finish on top in Greenville.
“This is by far the strongest team we’ve ever fielded for the USPRO Road Race and Time Trial, and our objective is to win,” said Carney. “We will sacrifice everything for the chance to stand on the top step of the podiums this weekend.”
The team has enjoyed success at both events in recent years. Alex Candelario, coming off a 4th place finish at Tour of California, finished second to Ben King (Radioshack-Nissan-Trek) in 2010. One year earlier, Andy Bajadali claimed the runner-up spot after a heads-up sprint with George Hincapie (BMC). The two near misses are sure to add additional fuel to the fire in 2012, and coming off the hardest racing so far this year, Carney believes his riders will have the legs to back it up.
“The team is coming off our best Tour of California yet. Almost everyone on the team seemed to get stronger as the race progressed and should be peaking at these events. Given our history of podiums at both events here in Greenville, that’s a great sign.”
Over the last three years, time trial specialists Tom Zirbel, Scott Zwizanski, and Reid Mumford have all claimed spots on the TT championship podium. Zirbel missed the the win last year by three tenths of a second, and Zwizanski was the runner-up in 2009. Expect all three powerhouses to take aim at perennial favorite Dave Zabriskie (Garmin-Barracuda) in their quest for the gold medal.
“Zwiz and Zirbel have both stood on the podium at the USPRO Time Trial, but they’ve never won the jersey. They are both coming into form at the right time after some big events in the past month or so. There is no question Dave Z. is one of the greatest ever to ride a TT bike, but we have a few killer Z’s of our own who are going to be on the attack.” said Carney.
After the weekend of racing, it is all about preparation for the Philadelphia International Championship on June 3rd. As America’s longest running one-day event and unarguably one of it’s toughest, Philly will be a formidable follow-up to the Pro Championships.
US Pro Road Race Championship Roster
US Pro TT Championship Roster