TriSports.com sponsored UHC Pro Cycling team wraps up season

By Seton
October 18, 2010 on 12:15 pm | In Sponsorship, UHC Pro Cycling Chronicles | No Comments

UnitedHealthcare Presented by Maxxis Concludes  2010 and is Looking Ahead to 2011 as a Pro Continental Team

Tucson, AZ – The TriSports.com sponsored UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team Presented by Maxxis has officially concluded its 2010 racing season, and the Team can look back on its share of successes.
Watch the video

The Team’s riders reached the podium 138 times this year, including 35 victories. Rory Sutherland also delivered the Team’s best-ever performance at the Amgen Tour of California, finishing 7th overall and nearly pulling off the victory in the race’s queen stage to Big Bear Lake.

“The Amgen Tour of California has always been a priority for the Team,” said Team Director Mike Tamayo. “The February date made it more difficult for us because riders like Rory really didn’t find their peak form until May or June. With the move to May this year, you saw the benefits in Rory’s performance. Next year we intend to improve on that performance with an even stronger squad.”

Sutherland delivered another of the Team’s stellar performances just a few weeks later at the Nature Valley Grand Prix,  held in the backyard of title sponsor UnitedHealthcare. Following the script he wrote in 2009, Sutherland took 2nd place in the opening prologue of the NVGP, and closed the race by winning the final stage and overtaking incoming teammate Scott Zwisanski for the overall victory.

“Nature Valley was an important win for the Team,” noted Team President and Director of Sponsorship Thierry Attias. “It’s the biggest race on the NRC calendar. And winning three stages and the overall title for the third year in a row allowed meant we put on a great show for all the UnitedHealthcare VIPs who attended the race.”

Included in those three stage wins was a pair of victories in the NVGP criteriums. The wins came from a core crit crew that set a torrid pace for success from April through June. Karl Menzies, Jake Keough and Andrew Pinfold ripped through the USA Crits Speed Week series in late April and early May with four wins and five podiums in seven races. When the Team added their nemesis from Speed Week – Hilton Clarke – to the squad in mid-June, they continued to rack up the wins and podiums, including a sweep of the Air Force Classic in Clarke’s first races with the team.

All four of those riders are back for 2011, along with lead-out man Jonny Clarke. And 2011 addition Robert Foerster, who will join the Team from the Pro Tour team Milram, brings even more speed for the sprints.

Baldwin, de Maar take 2nd and 3rd overall at Steamboat.

By Seton
September 7, 2010 on 9:55 am | In UHC Pro Cycling Chronicles | No Comments

TriSports.com sponsored UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team Presented by Maxxis finishes the season strong.

Steamboat Springs, CO – Chris Baldwin and Marc de Maar of the TriSports.com sponsored UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team Presented by Maxxis finished off the four-day Steamboat Springs Stage Race in 2nd and 3rd overall behind Peter Stetina (Garmin-Transitions).

After Stetina won he prologue on Friday, with de Maar 3rd and Baldwin 8th, Baldwin made his bid for the top of the general classification with an early attack on the Stage 1 circuit.

Chris Baldwin“Marc and I were both aggressive from the start of the circuit race,” Baldwin said. “It looked like Stetina had a lot of teammates with him because of all Holowesko guys there. When I saw all those guys, I decided to try to get away early. I got in an early move but the course was so hard that it was actually better for me to go off on my own.”

Baldwin opened up a solid gap that neared two minutes, but the heavy course started to take a toll near the end. Behind him, Stetina was charging up with de Maar in tow. Baldwin hung on for the excellent stage win, but the gap to Stetina and his teammate was sufficiently small that race officials put them all on the same finish time. But the top three of the general classification was set, with Stetina on top of Baldwin by 0:14, and de Maar another 0:10 in arrears.

The Stage 2 road race proved to be another tough course, but as Baldwin noted, the climbs weren’t sufficiently hard to put Stetina, who’s know for his climbing ability, in any danger.

“We actually had better luck attacking him on the flats because he had to work harder to cover both of us,” Baldwin said. “We had him on the ropes, but we just ran out of real estate in the end.”

A thinned out front group came to the line together with Baldwin sprinting to 2nd on the stage, while Stetina collected another stage win, adding 0:10 to his overall lead with the winner’s time bonus.

In today’s final stage, the flat, fast criterium course proved to be far from selective, and provided little opportunity for the UnitedHealthcare Presented by Maxxis duo to put pressure on Stetina.

“We both tried to attack Peter early on but the course was just too flat to get away, so we decided to let the rest of the guys race their bikes today,” Baldwin explained.

Baldwin and de Maar finished safely in the pack along with Stetina and secured 2nd and 3rd overall.

TriSports.com sponsored UHC Cycling takes on Tour of Utah

By Seton
August 19, 2010 on 11:27 am | In UHC Pro Cycling Chronicles | No Comments

Underrated first stage begins to shake up Tour of Utah.

Salt Lake City, UT – The first road stage of the Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah was one that the TriSports.com sponsored UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team Presented by Maxxis Directeur Sportif Gord Fraser called “underrated.”

“It has two good climbs, and with the heat today, it proved to be a hard one,” he said.

Rory SutherlandIn the end, a comfortable looking Rory Sutherland of UnitedHealthcare Presented by Maxxis took 6th on the stage to maintain his 4th overall position, with the duo of Alex Dowsett (Trek-Livestrong) and David Tanner (V AustralIa) slipping off the front on the second climb of the day and holding a gap to the line to battle for the stage win.

“Both of those guys had a prize waiting for them on the line so once they got the gap, the didn’t play any games,” Fraser said.

For Tanner, the prize was the stage win. For Dowsett, it was the race lead after taking 2nd to teammate Taylor Phinney in yesterday’s prologue.

“It turned out to be an interesting, tactical stage,” Fraser noted.

In fact, things got interesting fairly quickly, on the first main climb of the day. The heat and the pace took its toll, helping to create a split of 20 riders that got off the front on the ascent. Chris Baldwin and Max Jenkins of UnitedHealthcare Presented by Maxxis both made the split, putting the Team in a good position.

“We wanted to try and get Chris or Marc (de Maar) in a move like that with Max or Morgan (Schmitt) or Tim (Johnson),” Fraser said. “But I think the break was too big. There were too many passengers and not enough commitment amongst the guys, so they didn’t work well together. I think if that group had committed to work for 20 or 30 minutes, that might have been the race right there.”

Instead, the Canyon Bicycles team of last year’s Utah winner Francesco Mancebo put in a strong effort to bring back that move, and once the main bunch hit the slopes of the second climb the group was back, but another move went on that ascent.

This time, it was Tanner along with Davide Frattini (Team Type 1) and Ben Jacques-Maynes (Bissell) going off, with Dowsett bridging up with teammate Ben King.

Only Dowsett and Tanner survived at the front over the top, taking a 1:10 gap into the descent toward the finish. Morgan SchmittUnitedHealthcare Presented by Maxxis put Jenkins and Schmitt on the front to chase along with riders from BMC and Holowesko Partners. The gap came down, but with the duo up front committed to getting to the line, they were able to hold a 0:26 gap to the front group, which numbered 49 by the end. Sutherland, de Maar, Schmitt and Jenkins were all safely ensconced in that group.

“The guys rode a very good race today under tough conditions,” Fraser said. “The heat was definitely a factor. We ran out of bottles in the car mid-stage and had to stop to re-stock the cooler at the second feed zone. The conditions tomorrow should be just as challenging. But we have Rory looking good, and Marc will keep getting better as the week goes along. And Max and Morgan are both showing good form. Tomorrow’s finishing climb up to Mt. Nebo should eliminate some more guys and make the GC picture a bit clearer.”

That finishing climb, at 15 miles and over 4,000 feet of vertical gain topping off at around 9,300 feet of elevation, is arguably the longest, and certainly one of the hardest finishing climbs of any race in the NRC series. It comes at the end of an otherwise flat 78-mile stage

TriSports.com sponsored team UHC delivers Sutherland to victory at Cascade.

By Seton
July 26, 2010 on 11:12 am | In UHC Pro Cycling Chronicles | No Comments

Strong teamwork brings Cascade overall title
home for Sutherland.

Sutherland podium
Bend, OR – For the second consecutive month, Rory Sutherland of the TriSports.com sponsored UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team Presented by Maxxis has won the overall title of a major U.S. stage race. Last month, Sutherland won the Nature Valley Grand Prix in dramatic fashion, with his teammates launching him to a final-stage, final-lap attack that earned the win. This week, Sutherland took the lead of the Cascade Classic on the second day of the six-day race, and again benefited from tremendous teamwork to hold it until the final stage today.

“The guys did a great job of defending the lead for five days,” Sutherland said. “Today was a really fast day. It was raced hard by a lot of other teams. When you see your teammates working so hard, it pushes you that extra bit to finish things off and pay off their hard work. I’m really proud to be a part of this team. We’ve come to expect this kind of work from these guys, but today they really went above and beyond.”

The Team definitely had their work cut out for them today. Holding only a 0:20 lead on V Australia’s Ben Day, and just 0:55 on Day’s teammate, Darren Lill, the race was by no means over with a hot and hilly Aubrey Butte Circuit Race on tap to close out this edition of the Classic. Both Lill and Day were active all day, but it was Bissell’s Rob Britton, sitting 1:40 down, who ended up posing the biggest threat to Sutherland’s title.

“The Team did a great job of keeping things together early until we could get a break going that had the right mix so we could let it go,” said Team Directeur Sportif Gord Fraser. “A break of five guys with the closest guy five minutes down got off the front and we gave them a bit of leash. But we maybe didn’t give them enough because Britton was able to get across to it with two other guys.”

This boosted the break to eight, with two riders each from Bissell and V Australia, and Brad White representing UnitedHealthcare Presented by Maxxis. With White sitting on, the break extended it’s lead out to 2:40, putting Britton in the virtual race lead.

“There were definitely a few sticky moments out there when the gap got out a bit,” Sutherland said. “But we stayed calm and got the job done.”

Behind, Andrew Pinfold, Morgan Schmitt, Matt Crane, Chris Baldwin and Max Jenkins were riding tempo, slowly reeling in the move.

“Our plan was to bring the break back by the base of the final climb, which came with about six or seven kilometers to go,” Fraser said. “But the 100-degree heat was taking its toll on the guys, so when Britton got up to the break, we had Brad drop back to the bunch to help out with the chase. All the guys definitely paid the price because of the heat.”

SutherlandBut their efforts weren’t wasted. By the base of the final climb, the break was back in the fold. And though Sutherland was left without teammates at that point, he was still fresh from having been able to sit in for most of the stage. But Lill and Day weren’t going down without a fight. Lill attacked on the final climb and crested with a 0:15 advantage with about 5 km to go to the finish. Sutherland didn’t panic. He kept an eye on Day – a more immediate threat – and let the still sizable pack take care of Lill, with other riders upping the tempo to have a crack at the stage win.

A group of 20 came into the final kilometer to contest the win. With 1 km to go, Alex Dowsett (Trek Livestrong) put in an attack that turned out to be the winner. With the overall title pretty well sealed up, Sutherland opted not to mix it up in a potentially dicey sprint. He came across the line safely in the group and victory was his.

“We couldn’t have asked for any more from the guys today,” Fraser added. “Everyone was 100 percent committed to defending the jersey. It was an exceptional team win, and the first time this team has won the Classic in five years. So we’re going to celebrate a little with our host families, the Beards and the Salls, and enjoy this one.”

Photos: Jonathan Devich, Epic Images

Sutherland 3rd in Cascade prologue.

By Seton
July 21, 2010 on 9:21 am | In UHC Pro Cycling Chronicles | No Comments

TriSports.com sponsored UHC rider Sutherland 3rd in Cascade prologue.

Rory SutherlandBend, OR – Rory Sutherland of the UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team Presented by Maxxis placed 3rd behind the Trek-Livestrong duo of Jesse Sergent and Alex Dowsett in the opening prologue of the Cascade Classic.

Sutherland finished within a second of the top spot. But, because of the short nature of the course – covering just two miles – the time gaps all around were very narrow.

“I think Rory also finished within a second of being outside the top 10,” said Team Directeur Sportif Gord Fraser. “The gaps are so small among the top guys it’s almost like tomorrow is the first stage.”

Wednesday’s Mackenzie Pass Road Race should serve to spread out the gaps. The 74-mile course includes over 7,000 feet of climbing, including a 10-mile finishing climb up to the Three Creeks Snow Park.

Riders took to the streets of Bend’s Old Mill District this evening under warm and breezy conditions. Large crowds lined the one-mile out-and-back course along the Deschutes River, with the race organizers making the most of the commercial district to create a carnival-like ambiance.

“They did a bang up job on the atmosphere,” Fraser said. “One of the big things to do on the river is take float trips on tubes or rafts. I think there were probably a few spectators on the river tonight, too.”

The atmosphere at the finish tomorrow may be festive again for the fans, but after the long finishing climb, it’s likely only a handful of riders will be in the mood for celebrating.

TriSports.com sponsored Pro Cycling Team takes big win.

By Seton
June 21, 2010 on 11:10 am | In UHC Pro Cycling Chronicles | No Comments

History repeats: Sutherland three-peats at Nature Valley.
Clarke wins sprint classification.

Podium
Stillwater, MN – Stop us if you’ve heard this story before: Rory Sutherland of the UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team Presented by Maxxis comes into the final stage of the Nature Valley Grand Prix in 2nd overall, a handful of seconds down on the leader. He attacks going into the final lap, gets a gap, holds it and takes the overall title.

If that sounds a lot like the 2009 edition of the Nature Valley Grand Prix, it’s because Sutherland repeated the performance today, rolling to the start line three seconds behind Scott Zwizanski (Kelly Benefits) and rolling across the finish not only with a stage win, but the overall title.

As it had done in every stage of the race, UnitedHealthcare Presented by Maxxis took control of the race late, this time putting seven riders on the front with three laps to go.

“Kelly was under pressure all day,” said Team Director Mike Tamayo. “Early, Jeremy Vennell (Bissell) was off the front, and Kelly had to work hard to keep him in check because he was only about 30 seconds out of the lead. With six to go, Jamis took the front and upped the pace and that started to break things up. They eased off and we took over the front.”

UnitedHealthcare Presented by Maxxis never let go, launching Sutherland off the front heading into the second to last time up the nasty Chilkoot Hill climb, just as they had done last year.

“You have to find the right time to attack, and it just happened that it was thhe same time and place as last year,” Sutherland said. “The team rode fantastic all week. We had a specific plan and goal for each stage and we stuck to it each day, whether it was working for Hilton (Clarke) or me. This was definitely a team win.”

Sutherland jumped off his lead-out and hit the climb hard, with only Luis Amaran (Jamis-Sutter Home) following. Coming over the top of the climb, Sutherland held up just enough for Amaran to get up to him. Just behind, Zwizanski’s teammate David Veilleux tried to cover the move but was gapped off.

“I knew he was motivated to work because he had a chance to move up in the overall as well,” Sutherland said.

SutherlandThe duo worked hard together, with Sutherland driving the pace, knowing he had to finish at least four seconds ahead of Zwizanski to take the overall crown. The chase behind on the final lap was furious. Coming into the final climb up Chilkoot to the finish, the pack was closing in. Sutherland hit it again, opening a gap on Amaran, but more importantly, holding the chase at bay.

He crossed the line three seconds before Amaran, and nine seconds ahead of Zwizanski to take the overall by six seconds.

“This is the first time I’ve won this stage,” he said. “It’s a very hard course, and also one that everyone knows about. To take the win and the overall on this stage is a great achievement. It was quite a nice Father’s Day present.”

Top Sprinter

UnitedHealthcare Presented by Maxxis was on the podium every day of the race. Sutherland’s win was the third stage victory for the team out of five stages (Stage 3 was canceled due to weather). The other two stages, Sutherland posted a 2nd and 3rd place. New sprinter Hilton Clarke posted the other two wins. He took the lead in the Sprinter’s competition with his win at the Stage 2 St. Paul Criterium, solidified it with his win in the Uptown Minneapolis Criterium, and then held it to the line; something he’s shown he’s quite good at.

“Hitlon’s fit in quite well, quite quickly,” Sutherland said. “He’s given us that one little thing we seem to have been missing. He’s shown that he is a great finisher, and when the plan was to work for me the last two stages, he showed he was a great teammate as well.”

Notes

Karl Menzies of UnitedHealthcare Presented by Maxxis, who provided exceptional lead-out duties all week, while also picking up a 2nd place to Clarke in St. Paul, was rewarded for his efforts with the Most Aggressive Rider jersey for the Tour.

Sutherland opens NVGP title defense with 2nd in opening TT.

By Seton
June 16, 2010 on 5:30 pm | In UHC Pro Cycling Chronicles | No Comments

 

Rory SutherlandSt. Paul, MN – Rory Sutherland of the TriSports.com sponsored UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team Presented by Maxxis finished 2nd in the opening 6.1 km time trial of the Nature Valley Grand Prix this morning. Sutherland comes into the race as the two-time defending champion, and he now sits 0:10 behind stage winner Scott Swizanski (Kelly Benefits) in 2nd place after posting a time of 13:04, and 0:06 ahead of Swizanski’s teammate Zach Bell in 3rd.

“It was a good start for the team,” Sutherland said. “I didn’t know how I would go today after coming down from Tour of California three weeks ago. But I felt okay. Zwizanski is a good time trialist and he did a good ride today.”

“The team heads back to downtown St. Paul this evening for a criterium.

“We have the crit tonight, which should be exciting,” said Team Director Mike Tamayo. “We have a strong group of sprinters with us, and we’re in a good spot with Rory in 2nd. That’s the position he was in last year and he came out with the overall win.”

“We’re going to look for the stage win tonight,” Sutherland added, and then we’ll go day by day after that.”

UHC Team RV….dig it!

By Seton
June 7, 2010 on 5:15 pm | In UHC Pro Cycling Chronicles | No Comments

If you have been to TriSports.com over the last few months you have probably seen the UnitedHealthcare Presented by Maxxis Team RV parked here.  This is one big rig, trust me, I drove it!  One of the coolest features (not shown in this video) is the Rockford Fosgate (another team sponsor) “rolling thunder” wall of speakers – if you did Urban Assult here in Tucson you saw this nice little addition.  We will have it out  at the Tour of California if you want to check it out!  Here is a video tour of the RV from Rory Sutherland.

TriSports.com sponsored pro cycling team battles to the end in CA

By Seton
May 24, 2010 on 11:39 am | In UHC Pro Cycling Chronicles | No Comments

Thousand Oaks, CA – The TriSports.com sponsored UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team Presented by Maxxis fought until the final finish line of the Amgen Tour of California to preserve Rory Sutherland’s high placing in the overall classification.

Rory SutherlandIn the end, Sutherland finished 7th overall, the top domestic based rider in the race, with teammate Marc de Maar finishing 13th overall. UnitedHealthcare Presented by Maxxis also finished as the top domestic team in the race, with 4th place in the overall team competition, behind Garmin, Radioshack and HTC-Columbia.

“This was a great Amgen Tour of California for our team even though we had our share of bad luck this week,” said Team Directeur Sportif Gord Fraser. “Our guys gave a tremendous effort and showed we could ride with the best teams in the world.”

With the day’s main break up the road by a couple minutes, UnitedHealthcare Presented by Maxxis sent Max Jenkins to the front on the third lap to help the HTC-Columbia team of race leader Michael Rogers bring down the gap to the break.

“We wanted to do everything we could to put Rory and Marc in position to go for the stage win today,” Fraser said. “Max went to the front near the top of the climb on the third lap and buried himself until the beginning of the climb on the final lap. We wanted to put Rory and Marc in a position to attack when the gap came down.”

De Maar put in the first attack but suffered a mechanical that slowed him down. A second mechanical put him in the third group on the road led by Jens Voight (Saxo Bank), who was sitting 4th overall and also motivated to close the gap.

Brad "Captain America" White, Seton Claggett and Karl Menzies

When the attacks by the leaders started on the final climb and gaps formed, Sutherland tried to bridge up to the leaders’ group with Phil Zajicek (V Australia) but the duo needed another rider to help close the gap.

“I think if Marc was able to be with them it might’ve been different,” Fraser said.

The duo eventually integrated with the third group, and they did everything they could to limit their losses. In the end, stage winner Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin) and Radioshack’s Chris Horner, who were both able to bridge up to the break late in the stage, got enough time on Sutherland to each jump two places, moving him to 7th, with Voight slotting in at 6th overall.

“Every stage this week we were in the hunt for the win,” Fraser said. “We were always in the mix. To finish where Rory and Marc did amongst some of the top riders from the biggest teams in the world is a tremendous accomplishment for this team.”

Sutherland holds 5th overall at Tour of California

By Seton
May 22, 2010 on 8:25 pm | In Sponsorship, UHC Pro Cycling Chronicles | No Comments

Rory Sutherland

Los Angeles, CA – In the heart of Los Angeles, Rory Sutherland of the TriSports.com sponsored UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team Presented by Maxxis rode with the heart of a lion in the Stage 7 individual time trial, posting the 9th fastest time on the day, but more importantly, holding on to his 5th overall position in the general classification of the Amgen Tour of California.

“If you told me at the start of the day I’d still be in 5th overall with the quality of field here, I would’ve been happy,” Sutherland said. “I definitely didn’t feel good, but then everyone else was tired coming in, too.”

With his wife Cheynna in the follow car, Sutherland powered out onto the course in pursuit of his two-minute man and former teammate, Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin), who came into the stage in 8th overall, six seconds behind the Australian. At the first split through one lap of the 10.5 mile course, Sutherland had posted what would end up the 8th fastest split time, at 21:32.

“I don’t like to hear split times during a TT,” Sutherland said. “So I wasn’t getting splits from Mike (Tamayo), but he said I was doing good. It’s hard when you have a two-minute gap to the guy in front of you because you don’t see anyone the whole time you’re riding. So it’s tough to know how you’re going.”

He continued to power around the course, shaving four seconds off of his first lap time to come in at 43:00.12, little more than one-tenth of a second behind Chris Horner (Radioshack), who came 8th at 43:00.01.

In the end, Sutherland gave up 1:19 to stage winner Tony Martin (HTC-Columbia), but less than a minute to race leader and three-time time trial world champion Michael Rogers (HTC-Columbia), who finished 2nd on the stage. The only rider to best him on the day out of the group that was mostly on the same time as Sutherland coming into the stage was Jens Voigt (Saxo Bank), who finished 5th today, 0:20 ahead of Sutherland. Voigt jumped up to 4th overall, while previous 3rd overall Peter Sagan (Liquigas) dropped to 7th.

“It’s been a hard week,” Sutherland said. “The staff has worked hard this week. My teammates have worked their butts off all week for me and Marc (de Maar). So it’s a bit of a responsibility for me to repay everyone for their work. It’s good to be able to do a good time trial and get a good result for them. They’re all my co-workers and they’re all my friends. It’s big for this team.”

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