UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team Concludes Groundbreaking 2014 Season
The UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team has concluded an outstanding racing season, one that brought new opportunities and resulted in new successes. As the 2013 season came to a close, the UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team announced the exciting news that the team would develop and launch an entirely new women’s program to race alongside the men in the 2014 season. With a reputation of success in team management and rider development, as well as a history of impressive race results, the news of a women’s program was received with great enthusiasm and expectation. As the roster of top-tier female riders was announced, all eyes turned to the new faces of the UnitedHealthcare Blue Train.
Women’s Roster: Winning out of the Gate
The women of the UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team hit the ground running and headed to the 2014 Tour Femenino de San Luis, their first race as a team. When the race ended and the team yielded two stage wins and the overall victory (Stage 1, Hannah Barnes; Stage 3 and Overall, Alison Powers), it was clear that a successful season was ahead. From there, the squad went on to achieve another stage win and overall victory at the Vuelta El Salvador, both achieved by climber extraordinaire Mara Abbott. The 2014 Tour of the Gila was another great early season success for the women, with Alison Powers winning the criterium and Mara Abbott taking victory in stages 1 and 5, sealing overall victory in the general classification. As the season went on and the bonds among team members became stronger, the women earned several high-profile criterium victories as they perfected their lead out train. At the 2014 Amgen Tour of California, sprinter Coryn Rivera took second on the opening circuit race, with teammate Alison Powers taking the win in the time trial on the following day. The women also participated in the first-ever La Course, a circuit race along the legendary Champs-Élysées in Paris, France, coinciding with the final stage of the 2014 Tour de France. Coryn Rivera earned 6th place on the world stage in Paris, bringing home the best young rider award for the team.
Men’s Roster: Raising the Bar in 2014
The male riders of the UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team expanded their European racing schedule in 2014 to participate in multiple WorldTour events, including Milan – San Remo, E3 Harelbeke, Paris-Roubaix, and La Fléche Wallonne. The UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team rode bravely through these top-tier European races as protagonists, placing a rider in a breakaway or otherwise facilitating the day’s action, proving to fans and race organizers that the Blue Train is here to stay at the top of the sport with the depth, talent, and ambition to expand its presence at the highest level of racing. International results reflected these abilities with stage wins at the Tour de Langkawi (Stage 5, Brad White), Tour de Taiwan (Stage 1, Luke Keough), and Tour of Norway (Stage 2 win and 2nd Overall, Marc de Maar) as well as the KOM jersey at the Tour of Denmark (John Murphy). The team expanded into new races while maintaining a high level of success throughout the American racing schedule, earning a repeat win at the Philadelphia Cycling Classic (Kiel Reijnen) and multiple top-10 performances and most courageous rider jerseys at the Amgen Tour of California and Tour of Utah. Validation of the team’s hard work came at the 2014 USA Pro Challenge, when the team rode a tactically perfect opening stage, positioning Kiel Reijnen for the sprint victory on the streets of Aspen, Colorado. The stage win propelled Reijnen into the race leader’s yellow jersey, the sprint points leader’s green jersey, and the best Colorado rider’s blue jersey, while teammate Danny Summerhill was awarded the most aggressive rider jersey for his attacks throughout the stage. With the support of dedicated teammates, Reijnen protected the sprint points leader’s jersey through all seven stages, and proudly wore it after sprinting to 2nd in the downtown Denver finale.
One Team: Side-by-Side Success and Continued Criterium Domination
Despite multiple squads competing simultaneously on various continents, the criterium squad of UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team, known as the Blue Train, maintained the high level of success they’ve become famous for throughout the American criterium series. With the well-oiled machine that is the UnitedHealthcare lead out train, the riders took victories at the Boise Twilight Criterium, Manhattan Beach Grand Prix, Glencoe Grand Prix, all three races of B.C. Super Week, and many others.
The addition of a women’s roster brought a new energy and dynamic to the UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team for 2014. At many of the races, the men and women were able to train and warm-up together; share tips, tactics, and course knowledge; cheer for each other during their races; then reflect on the results and support each other after the race. Racing together, one after another, the squads took dual victories at the Sunny King Criterium (Coryn Rivera and Carlos Alzate), Belmont Criterium (Alison Powers and Carlos Alzate), Novant Health Invitational Criterium (Hannah Barnes and Carlos Alzate), all three races of the Tulsa Tough Omnium (Race 1: Hannah Barnes and Ken Hanson; Race 2: Hannah Barnes and Luke Keough; Race 3: Coryn Rivera and Brad White), and all four races of the Gateway Cup (Races 1-3: Coryn Rivera and Ken Hanson; Race 4: Hannah Barnes and Ken Hanson).
2014 USA Cycling National Road Championships: Four Sets of Stars & Stripes
The UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team went into the 2014 US National Road Championships with great momentum and high goals. Less than two weeks after dominating the Amgen Tour of California Women’s Time Trial, Alison Powers took to the starting ramp at the USA Cycling Professional National Championship Time Trial with hopes of earning the coveted stars and stripes jersey for the UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team. The 2014 course in Chattanooga, Tennessee was 30.9 kilometers long with rolling hills and technical turns. Powers had fantastic strength and stamina, allowing her to power through the undulating course with speed and precision. Top form, flawless equipment, and determination all converged for Powers, as she devoured the course and claimed the victory by a margin of 30 seconds. The team then went into the US Women’s Championship Road Race next with three riders and three podium threats – Mara Abbott, Katie Hall, and Alison Powers. Mara Abbott made her mark on the race early, winning the first queen of the mountains competition. Katie Hall launched a solo attack at 60 kilometers into the 104.8-kilometer race, claiming the the second queen of the mountains competition. Alison Powers bridged up to her teammate and at 10 kilometers to go, launched a massive attack out of the chase group, overtaking the breakaway. With a gap of only a few seconds, Powers unleashed her time trialing form and motored through the final circuits with the national title on the line. She crested the final climb with her advantage intact, then held it to the line and triumphantly finished with a huge smile. Her performance made history as Powers became the only woman to simultaneously hold the US national championship jersey in all three disciplines – the 2014 time trial and road race titles on top of Powers’ 2013 national criterium title. At the US National Criterium Champions in September, Powers was happy to support teammate and sprinter Coryn Rivera’s fight for the title. In the championship criterium, the women of the UnitedHealthcare went on the offensive early in the race, creating their own breakaways and solo attacks. After several attacks, responses from the rest of the peloton, counterattacks, and crashes, the women of the UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team engaged their well-practiced lead out train and positioned Rivera for the finale. Rivera was able to execute, sprinting to victory and keeping the stars and stripes within the team. Sporting director Rachel Heal commented, “It feels pretty amazing to have won all three titles in the first year of having a women’s component to the UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team, we knew we’d hired strong riders, but to be able to create the team chemistry and teamwork to bring those results is very satisfying.”
In the men’s race, John Murphy, Adrian Hegyvary, and Jeff Louder joined an early breakaway that would later gain a large enough advantage to lap the field. Always ready to adapt tactics to meet the race situation, the men of the UnitedHealthcare Blue Train adjusted to the unfolding race and positioned Murphy for the bunch sprint. The lead out was flawless and Murphy took the national criterium title, the fourth of the year for the UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team.
Achievements Beyond Racing
While the UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team saw great success racing all over the world throughout 2014, their efforts and goals reached far beyond the podium. The team takes an active role in UnitedHealthcare’s mission to help people live healthier lives and creates opportunities to promote the benefits of exercise, nutrition and healthy living to people across the United States and internationally. Throughout the 2014 racing season, the UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team made frequent appearances at local hospitals, schools and community events, while helping to raise funds for the UnitedHealthcare Children’s Foundation (www.uhccf.org), a nonprofit public charity that provides medical grants to children in need. The riders and staff would like to thank all of the partners and fans that made the remarkable 2014 season possible.
General Manager Mike Tamayo commented, “The 2014 season was spectacular. It was the first year with a women’s team, so there was a volatile moment of bringing in a women’s team into what was a men’s team but the integration was smooth, flawless, and perfect. Looking back at the season, part of our success came from our sponsors and all the fantastic support they offered throughout the year. We’re already working on 2015, so stay tuned because and have another incredible season in store.”