Optum Pro Cycling presented by Kelly Benefits Strategies has released the 2014 roster for it’s women’s program, with several elite new additions to a team with four current reigning national champions. Amber Pierce and Maura Kinsella, both formerly of Team NOW and Novartis for MS, will be joining an 11-woman roster that retains of its key elements from 2013. US Road National Champion Jade Wilcoxson; Canadian Road Race and Time Trial Champion Joelle Numainville; Canadian Criterium National Champion Leah Kirchmann; and New Zealand Road National Champion Courteney Lowe also return. Also resigning for ’14 are former Canadian road race champion Denise Ramsden, Lauren Hall, Brianna Walle, Janel Holcomb, and Annie Ewart.
“It’s with great pleasure that we welcome Amber and Maura into our program for 2014,” said Performance Director Jonas Carney. “With extensive European experience, Amber will immediately contribute critical veteran leadership on the road, while Maura is an explosive young talent who will be an excellent fit on a team that’s already full of star power.”
The team also brings in all-new directorship for 2014 – Kevin Field, formerly Sports Director at Team SpiderTech, brings a decade of directing experience to the table; it will be the first time Field has directed a women’s program. He will be assisted by Pat McCarty, recently retired from the pro circuit from Bissell Pro Cycling. The duo brings invaluable international experience and leadership, and will focus on building the team’s already significant list of palmares.
“Our new director Kevin Field is an old friend and a director with lots of experience directing in Europe for Team Spidertech and Trek-Livestrong,” said Carney. “In addition, our new assistant director Pat McCarty is a decorated cyclist in his own right, and brings further insight and knowledge to the team. It is great to have them join our family.”
Field, a native of Ottawa, Canada, is pleased to once again be directing some of his home countries top talent on the bike, flanked by some of the US’ and New Zealand’s fastest women.
“It’s wonderful coming into a program that isn’t in a rebuilding phase, but rather a program that is looking to improve upon its already unprecedented accomplishments. I’m excited and honored to accept management duties for the women’s program in 2014 alongside so many old friends and great colleagues,” said Field. “What Joelle and Leah were able to accomplish at the Canadian National Championships this past season was incredible; sweeping the road titles. As a Canadian, I was humbled and proud of their performance. To have them complimented by riders like Jade Wilcoxson, with what she has done in such a short period as a professional, means we will have quite an arsenal in 2014.”
2014’s lineup represents Performance Director Jonas Carney’s emphasis on bringing in well-rounded athletes with a variety of complimentary personalities and skills.
“We’re not a group of individuals wearing the same colors, we’re a team and a family. Before we bring new personnel onboard we make sure that they’re not only going to fit in with our system, but improve it,” said Carney. “Ultimately we hire people that are proud to represent Optum and our other partners as both bike racers and brand ambassadors.”
Heading into 2014 the team has its sights set on retaining all five of their national championship titles, while aiming for improvement in other key goals. Earning an invitation to the inaugural Tour of Britain (UCI 2.1) will be a top priority, as well as returning to the World Team Time Trial Championships. The women placed 8th at worlds in 2013 in their first ever TTT event together, and consider a top five in this discipline a major goal of 2014.