WorldTour climbing talent returns to US soil
Optum Pro Cycling presented by Kelly Benefit Strategies today announces another major North American addition to their road roster, hot on the heels of three major Canadian singings last week. Garmin-Sharp’s Phil Gaimon will fly the colors of the Orange & Black in 2015 following a season racing across European roads in the WorldTour.
The 28 year old Columbus, Ohio native brings a significant amount of domestic and international experience to the program. Performance Director Jonas Carney pushed hard to bring a former standout of the domestic peloton back to compete primarily onto American soil.
“We feel very fortunate to be able to bring a rider of Phil’s caliber to our team,” said Carney. “After a full year of racing a the World Tour level, he will have certainly made some physical gains and he will bring more valuable tactical experience to an already well-rounded program.”
Gaimon’s experience in the fast paced, highly competitive Europe peloton will lend itself well to the roads he knows so well back in the United States.
“I learned a ton over there”, said Gaimon. “I’ve improved my pack and positioning skills, because I had to to survive. I learned better how to function as a teammate, and how to control a race based on the abilities of our riders. I also got stronger, which is always useful.”
Gaimon also noted that the Optum p/b KBS program aligns well with his personal philosophy on racing.
“There’s a ton of talent in North America, a huge pool of hard workers and clean riders. With the bigger races getting better every year, Optum p/b KBS has a great schedule. I’m pleased to be here – the team has always focused on developing North American riders who can win against WorldTour teams, and compete internationally to add further depth and experience.”
Gaimon’s impressive palmarès includes several notable finishes in recent years. A stage win and 2nd overall at Argentina’s UCI 2.1 ranked Tour de San Luis in 2014, an overall victory at the 2012 Redlands Classic, and 2nd place overall in 2013 at the climbing heavy Tour of the Gila in New Mexico highlight the list.
Carney also looks forward to mixing Gaimon’s proven ability in the mountains to recent signing Mike Woods’ rapidly growing ascending skills.
“With races like Gila, California, Colorado, and Utah being very important on our schedule next year, we wanted to build more depth in the climbing department this offeseason. Woods and Gaimon should be a great combination for those events and give us a lot of options when it goes uphill in 2015.”
With the World Championships returning to US soil in 2015 for the first time since 1986, Gaimon looks forward to an opportunity at the UCI Team Time Trial Championships in Richmond, VA next September.
“I haven’t done a TTT in a long time, but if I can hold Zirbel’s wheel and fit into that team, Worlds will be another great opportunity.”