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2012/09/15 Optum p/b KBS' Mike Friedman 4th today at Grand Prix de la Somme in France
Great race in France today for the Optum p/b KBS men. Mike Friedman finished up 4th today following an epic day long break, which endured to the line after 200km. Friedman just missed out on a podium place however it was a great finish and final tune up for the World Team Time Trial Championships on Sunday. Creative Director Sam Wiebe is on site to capture some great images of the team today and on Sunday. Race report and full gallery link below.
Additionally, the U.S. and Canadian Team have been selected for the World Championships and the Optum p/b KBS squad is pleased to announce that 4 of our riders have been selected!
- Carmen Small
- Lex Albrecht
- Leah Kirchmann
- Joelle Numainville
Carmen recently showed her fitness is up to task ahead of Worlds in placing 2nd in the Chrono Champenois TT. Team Canada has prepared for Worlds by competing in the 6 day Tour Cycliste Feminin de l'Ardeche in France. Lex, Joelle and Leah performed admirably. Joelle won stage 4 of the race and the overall Points Jersey on her way to 11th overall while Leah won the Best Young Rider Competition on her way to 9th.
Optum Pro Cycling presented by Kelly Benefit Strategies' Mike Friedman sprinted to fourth place today at the 27th edition of the Grand Prix de la Somme, a grueling UCI 1.1 ranked race that saw riders buffeted by high winds and rain throughout the day. Friedman spent virtually the entire 203 kilometer trip from Ham to Albert in what proved to be an uncatchable breakaway. 23 year-old Lithuanian Evaldas Siskevicius of La Pomme Marseilles snuck away late in the race, narrowly holding off his charging competitors on the final straightaway to claim victory.
"It's frustrating to finish so close to the podium after such a long day in the break, but I have to remember we are racing against some of the best teams in Europe," said Friedman. "I did a lot of work in the breakaway today - maybe too much. Some gaps opened up in the last couple (kilometers) and I had to do some chasing late in the race, which is always tough."
Siskevicius attacked the breakaway with 15 km to go, forcing Friedman and his competitors into chase mode to catch the surging rider. The chase came dangerously close to disintegrating on the road into Albert, and only seven riders were able to consolidate and contest the sprint for second.
"(Siskevicius) launched a perfect attack to get away from the break, and attacks were flying in the last few kilometers, but I was right there around the final turn. I launched with 300 meters to go and gave it everything I had left in the tank. Unfortunately, two guys came around me right before the line. It's still a great result for our team."
Performance Director Jonas Carney echoed Friedman's thoughts about the hard day of racing in Northern France.
"Mike had a really impressive ride today - this was an extremely difficult race and the wind and weather made it even tougher," said Carney. "One-day racing in France is aggressive and fast, and that suits Mike's style of riding. Riding in a breakaway all day and then contesting a sprint is never an easy task, but he performed like a champ today."
The man known as "Meatball" escaped early with 12 other riders, and the group worked well together, quickly putting distance between themselves and the peloton. By the race's halfway point, the breakaway's gap had reached nearly eight minutes and it became obvious to Performance Director Jonas Carney that it would not be caught.
"The breakaway was flying, building a nice lead on the peloton, and some big French teams missed the move," said Carney. "The Europcar team chased first and cut the gap in half, but ultimately they couldn't finish the job. Saur-Sojasun took the front next but couldn't close the gap. Landbouwkrediet was the last team to lead the chase, but the gap wasn't coming down. The field finally gave up and the gap exploded, so I told Mike to start thinking about the finish line."
Once the hopelessness of the situation set in for the chasing peloton, its speed slowed considerably, and Carney instructed the rest of his Optum p/b KBS team to save their gas for Sunday's World Team Time Trial Championship, one of the largest events in program history.
"Once we knew the breakaway was going to stick, I told the guys to save it for Sunday," said Carney. "That is always a tough call because everyone on this team is such a competitor, but there was just no way anyone was going to bridge that gap."
Jesse Anthony went down in a small pileup early on in the race, but was able to get back on his bike and quickly chase back into the main group. Anthony fell again later in the day on the rain-soaked roads, but suffered only minor scrapes and bruises and will be ready to race Worlds in two days time. Optum p/b KBS will head to Limburg, the Netherlands early tomorrow morning to tune up for Sunday's world championship race.