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TRIA Orthopaedic Center Your Cycling Blog

UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team Sweeps Podium

June 16, 2011

By Lyne Lamoureux, Nature Valley Grand Prix
St. Paul, Minn. – The UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team controlled Wednesday’s Stage 2 St. Paul Downtown Criterium from start to finish and topped it off with a sweep of the podium.

After a perfect leadout from his teammates that included yellow jersey owner Rory Sutherland, Jake Keough took the win, Hilton Clarke placed second and Robert Förster was third.

“I think we’ve proven tonight that we’re one unit, whether it’s off the bike or on the course.” Keough said after his win. “The team is one unit, we do everything together. The dedication from the whole team is perfect. Each one of those guys is a specialist in what they do throughout the whole race to perfection.”

After rain fell earlier in the evening, welcomed glimpses of blue sky could be seen for the men’s race in the entertainment district of Downtown Saint Paul on a flat, fast, six-corner course that featured brick sections around Rice Park and some of the most beautiful architecture in the Midwest.

Only three laps into the 40-lap race, Bernard Van Ulden (Jelly Belly presented by Kenda) and Carlos Alzate Escobar (Team Exergy) escaped the fast-moving peloton. One lap later, two more riders, Alex Candelario (Kelly Benefit Strategies-OptumHealth) and Tyler Wren (Jamis/Sutter Home) joined to form a breakaway. The complete UnitedHealthcare team assumed position at the front of the field, with Jonny Clarke and Adrian Hegyvary keeping the pace high.

Lap after lap, it remained the same, with Keough’s teammates always in control, holding the gap at a very manageable 20 seconds. Cooperation was not perfect in the break, but the four stayed mostly together for 31 laps of the 1.4-kilometer course. During this time, Alzate took top points in the intermediate sprint competition while Van Ulden, Wren and Candelario contested the intermediate time bonus.

With seven laps to go, the BISSELL Pro Cycling Team swarmed the UnitedHealthcare train to take over the front and the already fast pace was revved up even further, dooming the breakaway.

Keough took it in stride. “I just kind of called the guys to be really calm and to wait until the other guys burned their matches so we could go back around them,” he said. “We’re getting well drilled at this. We’ve been putting it to some good effect. Each one of the guys did a perfect effort at the end.”

One lap later, the blue train was back at the front while the sprinters jockeyed for position behind. The battle was on for controlling the front of the pack with the inevitable bunch sprint finish rapidly approaching. Every lap the speed ramped up until Sutherland took over with one lap to go.

“He’s a vital part of our leadout as well,” Clarke said about having the yellow jersey pull at the front. “Adrian worked all day and he was second overall and Rory is leading the race but he’s helping us win the stage. We’re all helping each other all tour. The roles are reversed each day and we work as a team.”

Then it became a matter of executing the peel-off as practiced successfully in many previous races.

“The order we’ve been putting into the leadout train for the past few weeks has been Frosi (Förster), Hilton and then me and it’s been working,” Keough said. “We’ve been going 1-2-3 and we’re just going to try to keep doing it.”

The UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team finished 1-2-3 in Wednesday's St. Paul Downtown Criterium. Winner Jake Keough (far right) acknowledges his teammates at the finish line. (Matthew Moses)

Finishing fourth on the stage, Alzate took over the Wheaties FUEL Sprint jersey, while Van Ulden was awarded the Freewheel Bike Most Aggressive Rider jersey. Chad Haga (Team Rio Grande) will wear the green jersey as the Nature Valley Top Amateur and Joey Rosskopf (Team Type 1-Development), the white jersey for the TRIA Orthopaedic Center Best Young Rider.

After two stages, Sutherland remains in the lead with nine seconds on Hegyvary and Tom Zirbel (Jamis/Sutter Home). The defending champion also holds the Sports Beans King of the Hills jersey.

Thursday brings the Cannon Falls Road Race. The 67-mile course through gently rolling, but wide open farmlands, finishes with six laps on a circuit that includes a short, steep climb to the line. Even a gentle wind can tear the pack apart.

Keough says his team is ready to defend the yellow jersey. “I think tonight was a lot of bullets used so we need to make sure we’re conservative and make sure we have the legs but the guys proved that they’re strong and we’re going to keep it up.”

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World Champion Bronzini Wins Stage; Armstrong Stays in Yellow

strong>By Cynthia Lou, Nature Valley Grand Prix
St. Paul, Minn. – World road champion Giorgia Bronzini (Colavita Forno D’Asolo presented by Cooking Light) won Wednesday night’s rainy and crash-filled St. Paul Downtown Criterium in an exciting sprint finish, while Olympic time trial champion Kristin Armstrong (Peanut Butter & Co. TWENTY12) retained the Nature Valley Grand Prix overall lead.

Shelley Olds (Diadora-Pasta Zara-Manhattan) and Chloe Hoskings (HTC-Highroad) rounded out the Stage 2 podium in second and third, respectively.

As the women warmed up, the weather quickly turned from sunny and warm to windy and rainy, leaving them to make last minute adjustments to tire pressures. Tension built as knowing glances were passed between teammates while the national anthem played and the officials made their final announcements.

Fortunately the rain subsided about 15 minutes into the race, and the second half of the hour-long race unfolded under clear skies. The road started to dry, but not before several crashes happened, including one that took down about 30 riders.

There was fierce competition for the time bonuses, the first which happened with 23 laps to go. Hosking, Lauren Tamayo (Peanut Butter & Co. TWENTY12), and Amanda Miller (HTC-Highroad) soaked up the first round of bonuses earning five seconds, three seconds and one second, respectively.

With 20 laps to go, a break formed that included riders Miller, Tamayo, Olds, and Leah Kirchmann and Joelle Numainville (Colavita Forno D’Asolo). Their lead ticked up to a 14-second gap and lasted 10 of the 28 total laps.

As the break started to absorb time bonuses and stretch its lead, it became clear to the Peanut Butter & Co. TWENTY12 squad that it had to start reeling it back in.

“There was a break that got off that we weren’t excited about,” explained Armstrong. “With the conditions, it was single-file all night long. It was really difficult for our team to get together and chase down another team. That was frustrating. There was a point when I came up to help my teammates to finish and close the gap. After that, we just made sure there wasn’t another attack that went off and stayed off. The energy we expended to close that break was not something we wanted to do twice. People are out to race against us. We have three of the top five, and it makes for hard racing.”

With the peloton together for the final laps, teams began setting up their sprinters.

“There was a pretty solid lead out from TIBCO, so I made my way up to their train and just tried to hold position in the last lap,” Olds said. “In the last turn, Theresa Clif-Ryan (Colavita Forno D’Asolo) jumped, and I jumped to cover it. But Bronzini was on my wheel and she came around me. It’s difficult when you have two really fast sprinters from the same team.”

“I was in front of the first position, behind my teammate,” Bronzini said. “I was in third position at the corner, and gave my best sprint today.” Bronzini said she felt confident she could win as long as she came out of the final corner no farther than three riders back.

Georgia Bronzini (Colavita Forno D'Asolo presented by Cooking Light) celebrates her victory in the St. Paul Downtown Criterium, Stage 2 of the Nature Valley Grand Prix. (Matthew Moses)

“Tonight was one of the hardest crits I’ve done in years,” Armstrong said. “People were on fire. I know that there’s been past years that have been tough, but I think the depth of this field is the best I’ve seen at Nature Valley.”

Olds, who has raced a full schedule this season in Europe, agreed: “The field this year is incredibly strong. I think, much stronger, with a lot of numbers for each team.”

The Nature Valley Grand Prix has seen a lot of growth in recent years, from stronger fields to increasing opportunities for growth and visibility of new and upcoming riders.

Jade Wilcoxson is one such rider, having been selected through the Nature Valley Grand Prix Pro Ride – a series of qualifying races across the country.

“Just having a team director and a team mechanic and having all those details taken care of has been incredible,” Wilcoxson said. “Then racing with this caliber of women – this was a hard crate.” The Talent, Ore., resident will wear the Nature Valley Top Amateur jersey for Thursday’s road race at Cannon Falls.

Other jersey wearers include Olds in the Freewheel Bike Most Aggressive Rider jersey, Leah Kirchmann (Colavita Forno D’Asolo) in the Wheaties FUEL Sprinter jersey, and her teammate, Rushlee Buchanon, in the Tria Orthopaedic Best Young Rider jersey. Though Armstrong leads the Sports Beans Queen of the Hills jersey competition, Evelyn Stevens (HTP-Highroad) will wear the jersey for Cannon Falls.

Looking forward to Thursday’s first road stage in rural east central Minnesota, Armstrong noted, “We’ll have to see what the weather does, because sometimes it’s really windy. Again, we ride as a team, we ride as a unit. The technicality of tonight was hard to get the team together, but tomorrow the roads are wide, but the finishing circuits are tough. They always are. They’re technical and tough. We’ll have to stay safe and use the same tactics as tonight and work as a team.”

The women’s race in Cannon Falls starts at 5:30 p.m. Watch the race in person or streaming online at http://www.naturevalleybicyclefestival.com.

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Stage Two: Women’s Race Results

June 11, 2009

Leap of Faith Lands Kirsty Broun on Top of Podium;Armstrong Controls The Race to Maintain Lead

by Cynthia Lou

“Then I’ll have to win the race,” joked Kirsty Broun (Riverfront CDA) to the announcer. Win she did, with an early jump into the last corner of the fast 40 lap criterium – she secured a win at stage two of the Nature Valley Grand Prix – the Saint Paul Downtown Criterium. The race was deemed a success all around, with fans pouring out to enjoy the nice weather and very fast racing. Most of the race was single-file, strung out from the beginning by a blistering pace set by Kirstin Armstrong (Cervélo Test).

“I knew [Kristin Armstrong] was going to drive the race and try to get away, and we had a really strong team so we just stayed near her,” explains Kirsty. “I stuck to Webcor and Colavita. We all tried to work together to keep Kristin under wraps. I just tested my legs out in a couple of the intermediate sprints, and…I knew I had to go before the last corner.”

“The strategy was to be patient and to try to suck some final air before the final sprint,” Kirsty notes.

Armstrong executed to her plan to stay near the front, not only to stay out of harm’s way but also to keep the pace high and use her excellent time trialing abilities to keep herself at the front for many laps, though she was not able to break away.

In fact, no one was able to break away, save for two small groups who dangled off the front for less than one lap each.

The top contenders kept each other in check: Armstrong and Allison Powers (Team Type 1), only 13 seconds behind, stayed close to each other, while Tibco, Webcor and Colavita/Sutter Home alternately held the front.

“It was my job to work for every time bonus sprint to keep them from the other teams,” said Gina Grain (Webcor), who took third in the Wednesday night race and won one sprint bonus. “We had riders in the top 10 of the GC,” she explained, “and we knew others’ teams would be going for those time bonuses too. I tested out my legs [in the time bonus sprints], and felt good. When I saw people jumping around our lead-out between the second and third corner I knew I had to go for it.”

Top three finishers of Stage 2 of the Nature Valley Grand Prix – the Saint Paul Downtown Criterium – were: first place, Kirsty Broun (CDA), Joanne Kiesanowski (Tibco) in second and, Gina Grain (Webcor) third. (photo courtesy of Steve Pottenger)

The final women’s podium in stage two was Kirsty Broun (CDA), Joanne Kiesanowski (Tibco) and, Gina Grain (Webcor), taking first, second and third, respectively. There was no change in the General Classification after Stage 2: Kristin Armstrong will continue wearing the yellow leader’s jersey, with second place Allison Powers just under 13 seconds back, and Erinne Willock (Webcor Builders) in third place and 48 seconds back.

The Wheaties Sprint Jersey shifted from Allison Powers to Kirsty Broun, who now also holds the Freewheel Most Aggressive Rider Jersey.

Alexis Rhodes (Webcor Builders) will wear the APC Best Young Rider Jersey, while Kate Veronneau (Altarum Women’s Cycling) will wear the Nature Valley Top Amateur Jersey.

Tomorrow’s course is the Cannon Falls Road Race, which is 62 miles leading through some of the most beautiful scenery in Minnesota and finishing with a circuit through downtown Cannon Falls.

Catch the excitement via our Twitter feed at http://www.twitter.com/MNBikeFestival or through live broadcast available at http://www.MinnBikeFestival.com

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Stage Two: Men’s Race Results

Colavita Strikes in Last Lap for Stage Win; Bissell Protects Leaders Jersey in Nature Valley Grand Prix

By James Lockwood

Riding what could be called a textbook race, Colavita Olive Oil-Sutter Home delivered its sprint ace Sebastian Haedo to victory in the second stage of the Nature Valley Grand Prix.

But it was Team Mountain Khakis Thomas Soladay who really put on the show for the fans in the Downtown St. Paul Criterium on Wednesday, June 10.

Soladay, an amateur looking to make the jump in his cycling career, set out to redeem himself from a flat he incurred in the morning time trial in the first stage of the six-stage race. Representing one of the smaller teams in the grand prix, Soladay attacked six laps into the 45-lap race and ended up staying out in front the rest of the race, only losing to Haedo in the closing meters of the race.

“This is my bread-and-butter,” Soladay said after finishing second to Haedo after the nearly hour-long effort. “In the last meters, I was just pedaling out of pure anger. I wanted this in a bad way.”

For Colavita and Haedo, sprinting is their bread-and-butter, and while Colavita had Tyler Wren in the break that Soladay initiated, when the team realized the break would be caught, they made the decision to line up its lead out for Haedo.

“The team worked good all day,” Haedo said. “With three laps to go, we decided to do the lead out.”

“We wanted to have a guy on the team win,” said team director Sebastien Alexandre. “As soon as we got within 10 seconds of the break, we decided to go.

“We always race for the best. This is a team,” said Alexandre, explaining the decision to go with Haedo rather than count on Wren for the win.

With Jelly Belly Cycling’s Will Routley in the break with Wren and Soladay, it was doubtful that the break would stick. Routley came into the stage only 33 seconds back of the overall lead, and with 45 seconds in bonuses available on the stage, there was a possibility he could take the leader’s jersey.

But the three riders, along with Texas Roadhouse’s Adam Bergman, made a win from the break look probable. Halfway through the race, the quartet had built a 24-second gap, and it was not until about 10 laps to go did the gap start to fall, with OUCH-Maxxis’ Floyd Landis setting tempo at the front of the peleton.

Bissell Pro Cycling’s Tom Zirbel, who wore the yellow leader’s jersey after winning the morning time trial, said the team was never in doubt of losing the jersey to Wren in the break, and allowing OUCH-Maxxis to bring the break back worked out for his team. Bissell’s sprinting ace, Kirk O’Bee, had crashed earlier in the race, and while he rejoined, the team decided the stage win was not in its best interest.

“OUCH had to bring the break back,” he said. “In order to get the jersey today, they had to work for the time bonuses.”

“They needed to win more than we did,” said Bissell’s director Eric Wohlberg. “Had our sprinter not hit the deck, we would have been up there contending for the win.”

OUCH-Maxxis’ Rory Sutherland, who went into the stage sitting 13 seconds back of Zirbel and finished fifth in the race, said riding up front was more out of necessity than desire to win the race. “It keeps us safe. The last laps were dangerous. There were guys crashing and gaps forming. I kind of gassed myself trying to bridge back from one of those gaps,” he said.

Wohlberg said despite the appearance that OUCH and Colavita did much of the work, his team did not get a free ride in the 60-minute criterium, and the riders don’t intend on letting other teams dictate Bissell’s fate.

“We’ve got a lot of guys up on GC,” he said. “We intend to fight until the bitter end.”

The Nature Valley Grand Prix continues Thursday with the third stage Cannon Falls Road Race, a 62-mile race through the rolling hills and farms of east central Minnesota.

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Stage Two: Downtown St. Paul Criterium

June 10, 2009

The Minnesota Bicycle Festival continues in downtown Saint Paul’s Lowertown district with the second stage of the Nature Valley Grand Prix.

This is a wide-open course with a gentle incline to the finish line and is likely to end in a big pack sprint. With the time trial earlier in the day the winner may not claim the Nature Valley Grand Prix yellow leader’s jersey, but they should be able to don the Wheaties Sprint leader’s jersey.

The Downtown Saint Paul Criterium will favor powerful sprinters. Sprinters often struggle in the time trial and hilly weekend races, so this will be a stage for the sprinters to shine.

Event Schedule:

4:00 PM – Expo opens & Stunt Rider Shows
6:00 PM – Women’s Pro/Elite Race – 60 minutes
7:15 PM – Shimano/Hoigaard Tour de Kids fun race
7:40 PM – Men’s Pro/Elite Race – 60 minutes
9:00 PM – Expo closes

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