Optum Pro Cycling continues winning ways on two continents

Optum Pro Cycling presented by Kelly Benefit Strategies claimed multiple podiums on multiple continents yesterday, with Lauren Hall claiming victory at the Nature Valley Grand Prix’s St. Paul Criterium (NRC), and Eric Young speeding to his second victory at the Tour de Korea (UCI 2.2).
Tom Zirbel claimed second in the morning’s opening time trial, Joelle Numainville and Brianna Walle claiming second and third for the women. Later that evening Mike Friedman claimed second in St. Paul. A collection of time bonuses and second place overall vaulted Jade Wilcoxson into the yellow jersey in Minnesota.
Team Lightning at Stormy NVGP Time Trial 
The racing in Minnesota kicked off with a 12.4 kilometer time trial accompanied by torrential downpour – the first leg of the NVGP’s traditional  doubleheader. The rain stayed relatively subdued during the women’s runs against the clock, but ratcheted to full force as the men took the starting blocks.
Both teams attacked the short course, with newly minted USPRO time trial champ Tom Zirbel finished second in the men’s race, and the men placing five of six riders in the top ten. Joelle Numainville and Brianna Walle went 2-3 on the women’s podium, with six of eight riders in the top ten.
Amazingly, Brianna Walle suffered a mechanical early in her run that left her without the usage of her highest gearings. She still finished just five seconds off the lead.
The high-powered time trial result bodes well for both the men and women as they battle to defend the overall titles they won at last years edition of the race.
“It gives us some great options for the rest of the race,” Hall told cyclingnews.com after the time trial. “The time trial is kind of about setting yourself up for the rest of the race, and we’ve got ourselves in a really good position. I think that’s been our strength all year: the team works really, really well together, and we’ve got a lot of depth in the team, so we don’t just have one card to play, we’ve got several cards to play.”
Victory, Podium, Multiple Jerseys Gathered at NVGP’s St. Paul Criterium 
Keying off high placings in the time trial, both teams rolled into the evening’s criterium event with confidence. An array of time bonuses available on the downtown course meant a chance to shake up the general classification further, and Lauren Hall launched off of her teammates work on the front to take the win. Jade Wilcoxson held on after setting up Hall for the win, sprinting to a second place finish. Wilcoxson’s collected enough time bonuses on the day to take the yellow jersey from her former teammate and 2011 NVGP champion Carmen Small. Small suffered a crash in the races final turn, stalling Optum p/b KBS sprinter Joelle Numainille in the process.
“We wanted to just take it with one lap to go,” said Hall. “Denise came on the back side, Jade came out from Denise, Joelle was behind me. The crash in the last corner took out Joelle from the sprint, so Jade and I just kept going.”
As the sun set over beautiful St. Paul Cathedral, the men took the course to finish off a long day of racing, with Friedman mimicking Wilcoxson’s time bonus hunt. Friedman, who gathered two crucial bonuses and finished second in the sprint, moved into second place overall on general classification.
“It was a really solid day of racing for us, and really sets us up for the rest of the week,” said Performance Director Jonas Carney. “We will have great leverage now in the battle for the overall.”
More success for the team in St. Paul: Denise Ramsden and Brianna Walle claimed the best young rider and queen of the mountain jerseys, and both the men and women took the top spot on team classification.
Halfway Across the World, Eric Young Doubles Down at Tour de Korea 
Eric Young and his Optum Pro Cycling presented by Kelly Benefit Strategies teammates claimed another victory at the UCI 2.2 ranked Tour de Korea today, after an impressive leadout effort delivered the sprinter in pole position through the final corner. Young used his top-end speed to claim his second UCI victory of 2013 from the bunch sprint, beating out Alberto Cecchin (Team Nippo – De Rosa) and Jack Beckinsale (Australia National Team) to the top step. Young’s teammates executed another flawless leadout, beginning with a long pull by Jeremy Durrin and terminating with fastmen Alex Candelario and Ken Hanson blazing a trail for Young to the finish.
Ron Callahan is the chief cook and bottlewasher at Bike World News, doing everything from website design to bike reviews.
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Ron Callahan is the chief cook and bottlewasher at Bike World News, doing everything from website design to bike reviews.