Riccione, Italy – The UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team is in Italy this week to race the 2011 Settimana di Coppi e Bartali, March 22 – 26. The 2011 International Week of Coppi and Bartali – Trophy Unicredit, will be the Team’s sixth race of the year and first following a solid performance earlier this month at the Vuelta Ciclista a Murcia.
Scheduled to compete for the Team in this year’s Coppi e Bartali are Robert Förster (GER), Davide Frattini (ITA), Max Jenkins (USA), Chris Jones (USA), Christian Meier (CAN), Rory Sutherland (AUS), Charly Wegelius (GBR), and Brad White (USA).
Förster, who was recently named by CyclingNews as one of North America’s Top Riders to Watch in 2011, is coming off two top 10 finishes in his last two races at Murcia and the Clasica de Almeria. The German sprinter has been instrumental in the majority of UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team’s 11 top 10 finishes in its first five races this season, including a spectacular performance during this year’s Tour of Langkawi with his four straight podiums in Stages 7 – 10 (which included one stage win).
On the eve of the Team’s first race of the season in Italy, UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team General Manager and Directeur Sportif, Mike Tamayo, said, “We can’t wait to get underway on Tuesday. Coppi e Bartali is going to be a great race this year and the organizers have done a tremendous job putting it together. It’s going to be fiercely competitive and our guys are ready and looking forward to this opportunity. We expect them to pull together as a Team once again and go head-to-head with the best in the world here.”
The International Week of Coppi and Bartali will feature 6 stages raced over 5 days, that will cover 634 kilometers in the Emilia-Romagna region of Northern Italy. A defining characteristic of this stage race is the variety of challenges it presents to the racers, including individual time trial and team time trial stages, and hilly circuit races on both opening and closing days of the event.
The UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team roster for the 2011 Coppi e Bartali:
Robert Förster (GER)
Davide Frattini (ITA)
Max Jenkins (USA)
Chris Jones (USA)
Christian Meier (CAN)
Rory Sutherland (AUS)
Charly Wegelius (GBR)
Brad White (USA)
While the Team is racing in Europe, several riders have been racing locally around the US and doing well, with three top five finishes in the past two weeks.
Fresh off his return from racing in Europe, Seattle native Morgan Schmitt finished 4th in last Saturday’s Seqium Road Race #2 in Seqium, Washington. Chasing two riders who led the entire race, Schmitt initiated a four-man breakaway to reel them back in during the last 10km of the 84-mile race, and sprinted his way to a top five finish in his home state.
Philadelphia’s Scott Zwizanski, who scored the Team’s first podium of the season while racing in Argentina in January (3rd place in the Tour de San Luis’ Stage 4 Time Trial), raced in the Grants Tomb Criterium in New York City last weekend. Starting a five-man breakaway early in the race, Zwizanski finished second, as he was able to pull away from all but one rider, Michael Chauner of the Swedish continental team Team Cykelcity, who bested Zwizanski in a two-man sprint to the finish.
Wrapping up things for UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team riders racing locally, Aussie Hilton Clarke (who resides in Santa Monica, California), took second in the Murrietta Criterium in Murietta, California.