• 2014/03/11 Optum p/b KBS Men and Women Double Up Victories In First Weekend Of Racing
    • Optum p/b KBS Men and Women Double Up Victories In First Weekend Of Racing

      Entering the final weekend of racing at the UCI 2.2 ranked Vuelta Mexico Telmex, the Optum Pro Cycling p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies men were a little worse for wear having lost three riders to some intestinal "discomfort". The team's general classification hopes had fallen away when climbing ace Carter Jones also became ill. Jones had worked his way up the rankings during the Queen Stage 3, which finished with a 10km climb to La Malinche. Bjorn Selander and Mike Friedman were also unable to start the final stage on Sunday.

      However the troops rallied knowing Saturday's short 2.7km time trial stage and Sunday's circuits in Mexico City ideally suited the team's TT and sprint skillset. USPRO time trial champion Tom Zirbel blitzed the course on Saturday, which ran through Chapultepec Park and finished at the historic Chapultepec Castle. Zirbel's time stood until the final moments when he was eclipsed by just one rider to take 2nd on the stage. The Orange and Black delivered 3 riders in the top 7 with new addition Will Routley in 5th and Scott Zwizanski coming home in 7th. With the first podium of 2014 for the men accomplished, it was time for more.

      Sunday's final Circuito Reforma stage finished in the heart of Mexico City, raced over 22 laps. Optum p/b KBS' men's director Eric Wohlberg provided the call:

      The plan for Sunday was to go all-in for the sprint. However the final day began a little rough as both Friedman and Jones were not healthy enough to take the start.
      That left only 5 guys to control the race and then fire up the leadout train.
      As anticipated, the 472 Columbia team defended the yellow jersey well for the first half of the stage. Then a non-GC move happened at the 2/3 point and quickly opened up a gap of 45 seconds. At 4 laps to go (approx. 18 km) the Columbians backed off the pace and we knew that the eyes were somewhat on us to close it back down. With a little help from the Kenda team, Scott and Will started riding and pulled the move back just inside 1.5 laps to go. They then led the team into the last trip through the bottom 180 degree turn.
      Inside the final km, Zirbel perfectly executed the game plan of keeping Cando and Eric clear of the swarm. Then Alex took Eric to 300m to go. Passing the 1000's of cheering spectators at speeds nearing 40mph, Young nuked it to the line for the win.
      Two great days in a row for us.

      Women's Team Dominates Arizona Opener:
      Following a very successful training camp in Oxnard, CA. the Optum p/b KBS women turned to Arizona to launch their 2014 season, which began in earnest at Tucson's Old Pueblo Grand Prix. The team had high expectations following Leah Kirchmann's 2013 victory which opened up the team's win account last year as well.

      Lauren Hall, 4th in last year's race put a tremendous amount of pressure on the field midway through when a solo attack put her in danger of lapping the field. However with teammates in the pack patrolling the action, the chasing peloton could not answer her move and Hall eventually rejoined her teammates, 1 lap up and victory secured. The team then brought Kirchmann to the line in 2nd place for the group and 3rd on the day.

      Two wins and 4 podiums in the opening weekend bodes well for the Orange and Black going forward.