The men and women of Optum Pro Cycling presented by Kelly Benefit Strategies won two stages and claimed seven podiums at this weekend’s Tour of Elk Grove, a UCI 2.1 ranked event for the men and one of the final stage races in America for the women. It was a tale of the Canadians for the Orange and Black, with newly minted Canadian road race champion Joelle Numainville chalked up another sprint victory in stage one on her way to second overall. Ryan Anderson, continued to build on his month-long podium streak, landed on the podium in all three days of racing to match Numainville’s 2nd overall finish.
2012 Elk Grove champion Chad Haga kicked things off with a typically strong ride in the opening time trial, beating out John Murphy (UnitedHealthcare) by less than one second in Friday’s 7.2 kilometer test against the clock. Ryan Anderson finished third in the TT, four seconds behind Haga, and Friedman trailed Anderson by one second, finishing fourth. Denise Ramsden finished 4th in the prologue, joined by Numainville and Jade Wilcoxson in the top ten.
After Friday’s prologue, the men and women tackled two days of road racing centered around Elk Grove’s quiet, wooded neighborhoods. Anderson and the rest of his teammates faced stiff competition at the Illinois race – ProTour star and Critérium du Dauphiné stage winner Elia Viviani, along with a full compliment of his Cannondale teammates were in attendance, gunning for a significant haul of both cash and valuable late-season UCI points. Viviani was the only rider faster than Anderson in Saturday and Sunday’s sprints, and beat out the Canadian for the overall victory by just six seconds.
“This year’s edition of the race turned out to be very competitive, with Cannondale and United Healthcare both bringing strong teams,” said Performance Director Jonas Carney. “We are battling for UCI points as the season winds down, and the competition we saw here is a great warm up for two of our toughest stage races of the year coming up in Utah and Colorado. Our guys are riding really well right now, and Elk Grove is a great way to lead into our jam-packed schedule in August.”
Numainville, showing off her Canadian Road Race Champion colors for the first time, took a narrow sprint victory in front of her season-long competitor Shelly Olds (Team TIBCO) in stage one, and landed third on the podium in stage two to finish second overall, three seconds behind Olds. Teammates Denise Ramsden and Jade Wilcoxson joined Wilcoxson in the top ten overall, as did Mike Friedman and Eric Young for the men.
Carney and the men’s team fly directly from Illinois to Utah, for the newly redesigned Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah, August 6-11. Traditionally centered in Salt Lake City, the 2013 edition of the race takes a true “tour approach” beginning in the rugged southwest corner of the stage and heading northeast, terminating with a scenic circuit race in Park City.
The women’s team, with the bulk of the domestic racing and NRC calendar completed, begin preparations for a block of racing in Europe that will include the team competing in the World Championship Team Time Trial in Italy in September. After competing at Colorado’s Fort Collins Criterium, the team stations in the Alps to tackle the Tour de l’Ardeche, September 2-7th, before heading to Italy for the Giro della Toscana, September 11-15th. The two prestigious stage races will serve as a warm up for the world TTT on the 22nd, beginning in Pistoia and ending in Florence.
“We are incredibly excited for our European campaign – it will be the first time we have travelled over to Europe as a team, and to have the World Championship included in the block of racing is a dream come true for everyone. It will be the perfect way to end the season,” said Heal.