Team is Ready for the 2014 Amgen Tour of California
The UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team is heading west for a two-pronged attack on the 2014 Amgen Tour of California. The eight-stage, 718-mile men’s event starts on May 11th in Sacramento and ends in Thousand Oaks on May 18th. The two-day women’s event begins the same day as the men’s with a circuit race in Sacramento and a time trial in Folsom the following day.
Team Director Mike Tamayo reflects on the significance of the race, “California is always an important event for us. It is one of the largest, if not the largest, cycling race in the US, with a big presence for sponsors and the domestic racing circuit. With a sponsor like UnitedHealthcare, we take this race very seriously, being one of the marquee events in America.”
“The team we’re bringing this year is a very dynamic group. It has been a hard winter and spring in Europe, we hope to capitalize on that with the sunny, beautiful weather and racing in California,” adds Tamayo.
Along those lines, one rider who could shine on the flat and rolling stages is John Murphy. The 29-year old made the early breakaway at the recent Paris-Roubaix cobbled classic and led the race for over four hours. “I am motivated for this year’s Amgen Tour of California after a very active and busy spring campaign in Europe. I will be eyeing opportunities in any stage that comes to a sprint, especially stage 1. There are a couple stages that could have a smaller bunch coming to the line, hopefully my hard spring schedule will help me make it in the front. We are coming to the Amgen Tour of California with a strong team that will be ready to make waves in the race,” said Murphy.
Along with Sacramento’s stage 1, other opportunities for breaks and sprints will come on stage 4 from Monterey to Cambria, stage 5 from Pismo Beach to Santa Barbara, and stage 8’s circuit race in Thousand Oaks. California local Ken Hanson adds sprinting prowess to the squad, having recently earned multiple top-10 sprint finishes at the Tour of Turkey. Look for Colorado native Danny Summerhill, Australian Jonny Clarke, and all-rounder Chris Jones to animate on the flat and rolling days. Boulder resident Kiel Reijnen is a threat whether on a climb or in sprint, having won the 2013 edition of the Philadelphia Cycling Classic. With two mountain top finishes, Mt. Diablo on stage 3 and Mt. High on stage 6, look for the Blue Train to be at the front when the selections will be made. When the road goes uphill, the team is prepared with able climbers such as 23-year old Colombian Isaac Bolivar. Lucas Euser completes the squad with his excellent climbing ability and extensive experience in the Amgen Tour of California. Lucas commented, “Being a California native, the Amgen Tour of California is always a priority for me. This will be my 7th edition and I will be looking to bring my experience and local knowledge into a leadership role within the UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team. Personally, I’m looking forward to seeing what I can do on Mt. Diablo. I grew up racing on Mt Hamilton and Mt Diablo. To be able to compete on them at this level is a very unique experience.”
On the women’s side, the first day’s circuit race will be an excellent opportunity for reigning US National Criterium Champion Alison Powers to shine, having won last week’s criterium at the Tour of the Gila. Alison commented, “I’m really excited for the 2014 Amgen Tour of California. Every year it’s a great race and well run. They’ve supported women’s cycling for several years now with a good TT course, good media coverage, and great prize money. The fact that they’ve added a circuit race is awesome. The Amgen Tour of California has stepped up its support of women’s cycling and I’m super happy to be part of it– especially with a team that could win both days.” Powers, who also recently won the time trial at the Redlands Bicycle Classic and is a former national champion in the discipline, is a favorite in the Folsom Time Trial.
Joining Alison will be Mara Abbott, fresh off her overall win at the Tour of the Gila. Abbott is having an excellent start to her season, also winning the overall title at the Tour of El Salvador in March and the final stage at the Redlands Bicycle Classic. 2-time New Zealand national road race champion Rushlee Buchanan and 2-time Sunny King Criterium winner Coryn Rivera will also be dangerous factors in the circuit race.