Optum Pro cycling presented by Kelly Benefit Strategies continued its assault on the peloton this weekend, gathering twelve podiums in four days via New Mexico’s SRAM Tour of the Gila (UCI 2.2), Vermont’s Tour of the Dragons, and California’s classic Dana Point Grand Prix. The weekend of success was highlighted with a multitude of victories. Janel Holcombe opened things up for the team in stage two of Gila with an emphatic solo victory, followed by Tom Zirbel’s first UCI time trial victory of 2013 in stage three. Lauren Hall capped off the success at Gila with a victory in stage four at the Silver City criterium, where a crisp leadout from Joelle Numainville landed the Candadian in runner-up position. Sprinter Eric Young battled to a third overall on the men’s side of the Silver City criterium.
“We battled hard at Gila this weekend and we had some great results,” said Performance Director Jonas Carney. “On one hand, we aim for the yellow jersey, like every other race. On the other hand, we use this race as additional preparation for big goals like the Tour of California, Tour of Utah, and the Pro Challenge in Colorado. Our women’s team had some fantastic results at Gila, and it definitely shows the work we have put into our program is paying off.”
Holcomb finished on the podium again in stage five, and closed out her successful weekend in New Mexico at third overall on general classification.
Scott Zwizanski continued the team’s winning ways on the east coast, claiming victory in the Tour of the Dragons time trial and battling to second overall in the grueling three-day race.
“It’s a tough and exciting race here at the Tour of the Dragons,” said Zwizanski. “It was great preparation for the Tour of California, and it was nice having Jeremy Durrin alongside me to help me try to capture some results.”
Ken Hanson, flying solo for a change, finished third in California’s Dana Point Grand Prix, continuing to test his legs in preparation for the Amgen Tour of California beginning May 12th in Escondido.
Capturing twelve podiums over the span of a few days is unprecedented in Optum p/b KBS’ rapidly expanding program. Women’s Performance Director’s Rachel Heal and Carney were once again convinced that hard work pays off for their athletes.
“We worked very hard across America this weekend, and our team delivered an array of results on both the men’s and women’s side of the coin,” said Heal. “We might not have captured the ultimate result we were looking for, but the progression of the team is rapid and could result in some big wins heading into the heart of the season.”
The team now gears up for the capstone of American racing, the Amgen Tour of California. Spanning eight days and over 60,000 feet of climbing, the men’s team will focus on delivering sprinter Ken Hanson to a stage win against some of the world’s best. Jade Wilcoxson and Brianna Walle will participate in the highly competitive women’s time trial event in downtown San Jose.