Team Racks Up Five Victories at 2015 Gateway Cup
The UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team celebrated the Labor Day weekend in style with multiple victories at the TSG Realty Gateway Cup. The annual weekend of racing takes place in St. Louis, Missouri, and has become known as the premiere criterium event for the end of the season. The UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team came into the races with the intention of dominating the proceedings, as the team is currently leading the National Criterium Calendar standings and was looking to solidify its position at the top. Over the four days of racing, the UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team came away with five individual victories and multiple podium finishes, cementing their position as the strongest and most consistent team racing on American soil.
The weekend kicked off under the lights with the Tour de Lafayette. Both men’s and women’s squads came into the race with the intention of racing aggressively, patrolling the front, and putting in the work required to take a win. In the women’s race, despite attempts to get a jump on the field, no breakaways were able to stick, and the race came down to a test of horsepower on the run in to the finish. Lauren Tamayo came into the finale well-positioned, and launched a long sprint to the finish. Only a photo could determine the winner at the line, and Tamayo walked away with second place behind competitor Leah Kirchmann.
Day two of the Gateway Cup saw the men’s team get back to their winning ways at the Tour De Francis Park in the St. Louis Hills neighborhood. Carlos Alzate of the UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team took a resounding sprint victory after a chaotic race in oppressive heat. The racing was ferocious from the gun, with small groups of riders testing the peloton from the beginning. Breakaways would occasionally pull 15-20 seconds clear of the pack before the hard work to reel them in began. The UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team was vigilant to ensure that no break could get a winning advantage, and as expected, the 75 minute race was decided in the home straight. Carlos Alzate jumped out of the pack around the last corner and sprinted unmatched to the line. Teammate Luke Keough rounded out the podium with a third place finish.
The Gateway Cup continued on Sunday with the third round of the event: the Giro Della Montagna. Both men’s and women’s teams took wins from breakaways. The challenging course animated the racing, making for tense competition in both the men’s and women’s events. The UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team embraced the difficult conditions to pull out two victories, with Karl Menzies and Rushlee Buchanan taking important wins.
In the women’s race, the team took to the front early and set a pace to string out the field. With much effort, Rushlee Buchanan managed to escape off the front of the field with two other riders, and maintained a lead that maxed out at 15 seconds. With Buchanan in the breakaway, the women of Team UnitedHealthcare were able to let other teams do the work in trying to bring the escapees back. With grit and determination, the gap stuck, and coming into the final lap, the riders had a slim cushion of six seconds. Buchanan briefly escaped from her companions up the final climb, and although they bridged back up, she held them off for an amazing victory.
In the men’s race, again there was an aggressive start, and the UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team was represented in every move. Halfway into the race, Karl Menzies made a breakaway move with four other riders, and worked hard to build up a lead. Seeing the chance of another breakaway win, Brad White made the tough decision to attempt bridging across to the breakaway. A rarely successful move, White gave everything to get across the gap and bolster the UnitedHealthcare Blue Train’s chances with two riders in the lead group.
The peloton fought ferociously to bring the gap down, but the riders held on, and with a few laps remaining Menzies pulled out front once again. In an almost exact repeat of the women’s race, Menzies pulled ahead of his breakaway companions and held on to the finish, coming across the line exhausted.
The traditional finale of the Gateway Cup weekend is the Benton Park Classic. The technical course challenges an already tired pack, creating splits in the peloton, and favoring the tactically astute in the field. Both the men’s and women’s squads rounded out the weekend in style with victories: Linda Villumsen in the women’s event, and a second victory for Alzate in the men’s field. In addition to the wins, the UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team stacked the podiums with Higgins in 2nd place and Tamayo in 4th for the women, followed by Menzies in 3rd and Keough in 4th for the men’s field.
The women of Team UnitedHealthcare took control from the start, setting a hard tempo for the first half of the race. The team launched relentless attacks, forcing the other teams to use precious energy to keep the race together. Finally, the elastic snapped when Linda Villumsen went to the front with three laps to go. Despite a concerted chase from behind, the field never looked close to catching her. She crossed the line with a comfortable gap, giving the Blue Train enough time to organize on the front and launch Higgins to field sprint victory, taking 2nd on the day.
In the men’s race, Adrian Hegyvary made the most significant breakaway of the day with a solo move at 13 laps to go. The move forced the other teams to chase hard, and Hegyvary was reeled in with only four laps remaining. With Hegyvary back in the fold and the competition tired from the chase, the men of the UnitedHealthcare Blue Train focused on the bunch sprint. The team performed a perfect lead out, allowing Carlos Alzate to take a convincing win, with Menzies rounding out the podium in 3rd, followed by Keough in 4th place.
With just one weekend of racing remaining on the National Criterium Calendar, the UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team has accumulated a strong lead in the Men’s individual and overall team competitions. The men of UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team currently lead with almost double the points total of the second place team. In the individual competition, Carlos Alzate is currently atop the standings with teammate Hilton Clarke in second place.