Oakland, CA – The 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.
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.
INTO THE OFF-SEASON
With the 2010 racing season over, the riders are settling into off-season mode. For most of them, that means off the bike completely for at least a few weeks. For Menzies, that also includes getting married in October to long-time girlfriend Heather. This off-season also means that Sutherland and Brad White get to spend more time with their toddlers Eston and Macen, and Pinfold with his newborn James.
The off-season also means a switch in focus for training. While the guys take a break from the bike, most will turn their attention to building a different kind of base for 2011. Riders will focus on strengthening their core muscles to help their backs stand up to being bent over on a bike for six hours, and build power to push the pedals harder and faster. The riders will also continue to focus on stretching and flexibility ahead of the season.
All the riders are benefiting from the basic strengthening and stretching practices put in place by Team Soigneur Bill Haelson at training camp last year.
By December at the latest, the riders will begin their on-bike preparation for the 2011 season, making those six- and seven-hour base training rides a regular part of their routine once again. The stage racers in particular will be building form throughout December and into January 2011 for the first big races of the year, the Tour de San Luis in mid-January, followed closely by the Tour de Langkawi in late January and into early February.
By the time the full Team convenes for training camp in February, many of the riders will already have some good, hard racing in their legs, and hopefully some early success on which to build a more successful 2011 season – the Team’s first at the Professional Continental level.