Men’s Season Kicks off With High Altitudes, Expectations at La Vuelta Mexico
Women commence racing in sunny Southwest with two race campaign
The men’s team has touched down in Mexico City to commence the racing season proper at La Vuelta Mexico, a six-stage, 640 kilometer high altitude contest being held March 4th – 9th, and featuring some of North and South America’s top Pro Continental teams.
The women’s team is preparing to start their season in sunny Tucson, Arizona at the Old Pueblo Grand Prix and the Tucson Bicycle Classic. Jade Wilcoxson, Maura Kinsella, and Brianna Walle are currently racing in Europe along with the US national team.
Fast start to the season for the men at the Tour of Mexico
After a hiatus in 2013, the UCI 2.2 ranked event was reinstated to the UCI Americas Tour calendar for 2014. It allows the team to continue its tradition of tackling international events as a way to prepare for tough early season stage races back in the United States.
“The Vuelta Mexico will be the perfect way to start our season. If we want to be competitive at races like the Amgen Tour of California, we need events like Mexico to push our athletes early in the season,” said Performance Director Jonas Carney. “The entire race will be at altitude and we expect some tough stages, and we are going to be looking for an opportunity to set up our sprinters for a stage win.”
Event organizers have announced that Optum p/b KBS will be one of fifteen international teams migrating to Mexico City, joining eight Mexican outfits, to complete the 23 team, 184 rider start list. Staying within the regions of central Mexico, the race will venture through the states of Morelos and Tlaxcala before its conclusion.
“We just finished a very successful training camp in Oxnard, California where all of our riders showed that they are ready for the season,” said Carney. “We will be sending a very strong and well balanced team to Mexico, and we hope to be in the hunt for stage wins as well as the overall.”
Stand-out climbers Carter Jones, and William Routley will lead the Orange and Black up the steep slopes, accompanied by veteran leaders Alex Candelario, Mike Friedman, and Bjorn Selander. The “Flying Zs,” 2013 US Time Trial National Champion Tom Zirbel and veteran TT specialist Scott Zwizanski, will be prepared to battle in Stage 5’s 2.5 kilometer time trial through the forest of Chapultepec, while 2013 US Criterium National Champion Eric Young will be fighting for his first win of the season should a sprint finish present itself.
Women begin racing season proper with pair of Tucson events
After two weeks of preparation at training camp in Oxnard, California, a 6-woman team travels south this week to Tucson, Arizona, to line up for the Old Pueblo Grand Prix criterium on March 8th and the Tucson Bicycle Classic from March 14th – 16th. Several riders have made their way to Europe to embark on a Spring Classics campaign with the US national team.
New Women’s Performance Director Kevin Field is eager to get things started on the right foot in Tucson.
“The Old Pueblo Grand Prix and the Tucson Bicycle Classic will provide us the perfect opportunity get our legs back underneath us and get the season started off right,” said Field. “At camp we focused on simulating race-day conditions, but nothing quite compares to the real thing.”
Annie Ewart, Amber Pierce, Denise Ramsden, Janel Holcomb, Lauren Hall, and defending Canadian National Criterium Champion Leah Kirchmann comprise the Tucson roster. The ladies will navigate a new course route at Old Pueblo, with the downtown circuit circling the raucous, spectator-heavy Jacome Plaza and the historic El Presidio neighborhood.
The team will also participate in the Old Pueblo Gran FUNdo on March 9th, building connections within the community and spreading the team’s message of health and wellness.
Women’s US national team participation
While the rest of the team is hard at work in Tucson, Maura, Jade, and Brianna are breaking in their season on the difficult European scene with the US national team. Having already competed in this past weekends historic Omloop Het Nieusblad, our Optum Pro Cycling p/b KBS ladies will be lining up at the following races:
– GP Le Samyn, Mar. 5 [Belgium] – Omloop van het Hageland (Tielt-Winge), Mar. 9 [Belgium] – Drentse 8, Mar. 13 [Netherlands] – Ronde van Drenthe, Mar. 15 [Netherlands] – Novilon EDR Cup, Mar. 16 [Netherlands]
Tour of Mexico 2014 Roster –
Old Pueblo Grand Prix and Tucson Bicycle Classic Roster –
US National Team Participants –