Optum p/b KBS Fields Race’s Only All-North American Team
Optum Pro Cycling presented by Kelly Benefit Strategies will conclude its month-long stint in Europe this weekend with the three-day Vuelta a Castilla y Leon (UCI 2.1). The classic Spanish stage race has traversed the beautiful and diverse Castilla y Leon region for nearly thirty years, and will see Optum p/b KBS’ eight-man team compete against some of the world’s top Pro Continental and WorldTour outfits.
“Castilla y Leon will be one of the biggest challenges we have faced so far in Europe, and I know the guys are extremely motivated to get a result against such a competitive field,” said Performance Manager Eric Wohlberg. “Going up against teams like Movistar, Caja Rural, and Euskatel is a welcome challenge for our program.”
The race kicks off Friday with its longest and flattest day of racing, a 194.8 kilometer trek from Arévalo to Valladolid, which should be a chance for the potent Optum p/b KBS leadout train to flex its muscle.
After Friday’s flatter 194.9 kilometer opener in Arévalo, the road will turn upward significantly, tackling no less than eight categorized climbs and culminating in the mountains of Palencia.
“We are racing across a wide variety of terrain, everything from flat circuits in town, to some significant category one and two climbs on Saturday and Sunday,” said Wohlberg. “Our team here is talented and diverse enough to give us some interesting tactical options, and hopefully that can land us on the podium again before we head home.”
The team has collected several palmares so far on their month-long stint in Europe, including a win apiece for Ken Hanson and Tom Zirbel in Portugal’s Volta ao Alentejo and a special sprinter’s prize for Jesse Anthony at Spain’s prestigious Gran Premio Indurain. It will be the first race for the current eight-man team, as team captain Alex Candelario flew into Spain following the Redlands Bicycle Classic to complete the team for Castilla y Leon.
Stage 1 | Arévalo (Ávila) – Valladolid | 194.8 km
Stage 2 | Villa del Libro de Urueña – Palencia | 164.1 km
Stage 3 | Aguilar de Campoo (Palencia) – Cervera de Pisuerga (Palencia) | 183.1 km
Vuelta a Castilla y Leon Roster
Jesse Anthony (USA)
Marsh Cooper (CAN)
Alex Candelario (USA)
Mike Friedman (USA)
Ken Hanson (USA)
Sebastian Salas (CAN)
Tom Soladay (USA)
Eric Young (USA)