Women’s Team Off to Fast Start in Europe, Men Kick Off Inaugural Tour of Alberta 

The Optum Pro Cycling presented by Kelly Benefit Strategies team’s women kicked off their first ever team trip to Europe at Tour Cycliste Feminin International de l’Ardeche this weekend, with a strong showing in the opening prologue, an individual test against the clock. Performance Director Rachel Heal briefly recapped the action:

“The race started with a 2.5km prologue through the streets of Vallon-Pont-d’Arc. With the first starter off at 6pm, and a field of 140 riders, the last riders off had to contend with fading light, but that didn’t stop Jade posting the 4th fastest time, and with Janel in 5th and Lauren in 10th we got off to a great start for our first European race.”

The race sees the six-woman roster tackle some of Europe’s best programs, including the Wiggle-Honda, RusVevlo, and Lotto Belisol Ladies teams. The road racing proper begins today with a 121 kilometer stage from Rochegude to Beauchastel.

Tour Cycliste Feminin International de l’Ardeche Roster
Janel Holcomb
Lauren Hall
Leah Kirchmann
Joelle Numainville
Denise Ramsden
Jade Wilcoxson

Men Bring Dangerous Leadout For Sprinter Friendly Tour of Alberta 

Back in North America, the Optum p/b KBS men’s team has had a week to breathe easy after the exceedingly high altitudes of the USA Pro Challenge before heading to the much flatter five stage course in Alberta. The course should provide plenty of opportunities on the general classification as well as another chance for the team to challenge Peter Sagan (Cannondale), who narrowly outpaced Ryan Anderson twice at the USA Pro Challenge.

“The courses in Alberta should suit our team very well, much more so than Utah or Colorado, and the competition there will be fierce,” said Performance Director Jonas Carney. “The prologue time trial will be very important to the GC, and there will likely be several field sprints. We prioritized Alberta on our calendar, and wanted to send our best possible team to the event, which  meant all of our sprinters and all of our TT guys.”

With a potent dual threat in sprinters Ken Hanson and Eric Young, the team will have significant horsepower on what will be a relatively flat parcours to challenge favorite Sagan in the sprints, but the general classification will remain the team’s primary goal for the race.

“The GC will likely be determined by the prologue, time bonuses, and potentially crosswinds,” said Carney. “We’ve got a bunch of guys who can TT and a great group of guys for this style of race. Haga, Zirbel, Zwizanski are always fast in a TT. Anderson and Friedman will also be fast and they are capable of taking time bonuses. Ultimately the GC strategy will be determined after we see the prologue results.”

Follow the race via your smartphone on the Tour Tracker app, and stay tuned for updates from around the world in the coming weeks.

Tour of Alberta Roster
Ryan Anderson
Mike Friedman
Chad Haga
Ken Hanson
Tom Soladay
Tom Zirbel
Scott Zwizanski

Comments are closed.