The UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team had a remarkable final day in Colorado, where both men’s and women’s squads took victory in the final stages of the USA Pro Challenge, sealing the lead in the sprinter’s green jersey competition in both fields for the team.
The women’s peloton completed the inaugural three-stage Women’s USA Pro Challenge with a one-hour circuit race on Sunday, featuring a brutal climb along Washington Avenue in the heart of downtown Golden, Colorado.
The peloton set off up the climb after the start and by the time they came around to complete the first lap, the race was already in shambles with riders splitting into several groups and others already out of contention. Screaming crowds poured into the street on the Washington Avenue climb as the women of the UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team fought their way through the laps in the lead group throughout the entire race– an accomplishment on the challenging course.
In the final laps, the UnitedHealthcare Blue Train women began to organize at the front of the group, responding to attacks from within the heavily reduced field.
Wearing the orange jersey representing the most aggressive rider award on the previous stage, Coryn Rivera made her move around the final turn, flying through the corner and launching an unmatched sprint. The young American held her lead through the line with time to spare, pumping her fists in celebration. Rivera’s stage win sealed the sprinter’s points competition, sending Rivera home with the final green jersey. Her teammate Abby Mickey rode consistently through the final stages after her 4th place finish in the opening time trial, earning the overall best young rider jersey.
The win came after a run of bad luck for the team on Saturday’s stage 2, in which sprinter Hannah Barnes was forced to abandon the race after breaking her ankle in a crash. Abby Mickey and Katie Hall also suffered painful crashes on stage 2, but without any broken bones, the riders were able to push through their injuries (Mickey sprained a finger, Hall suffered significant road rash) and support their team on the final stage. Danny Summerhill also crashed on Saturday in the men’s stage 6, sustaining lacerations that required 8 stitches before he was able to start on the final stage.
The men’s 7th and final stage began shortly after the women’s race ended, on the same street in downtown Golden. The riders completed a neutral lap in front of teeming crowds, before climbing up and over the regionally famous Lookout Mountain then racing into downtown Denver for finishing circuits in the center of the city.
With Kiel Reijnen leading the sprinter’s green jersey competition by 12 points going into the final stage, the goal of the day was to position either Reijnen or John Murphy to contest the stage win. A six-rider breakaway spent the majority of the final stage in front of the peloton, but with Team UnitedHealthcare and Team BMC patrolling the time gap and dictating the pace, the group was caught upon entering the final circuit in Denver.
The overall race leader Rohan Dennis launched a solo attack in the final two kilometers, looking to apply pressure to the UnitedHealthcare Blue Train and position Team BMC sprinter Taylor Phinney for the finish. Amidst the attack, the Blue Train stayed calm, collected, and organized, lifting the pace gradually to reel the rider back in. In the final turns, Team UnitedHealthcare rider Marco Canola stepped up to lead John Murphy out for the finish.
Taylor Phinney of Team BMC made the first move, but a determined Murphy jumped from Canola’s wheel onto the sprinting rider just in time, and was then able to accelerate past for the victory. Reijnen was just behind, finishing in 6th position and solidifying his lead in the sprinter’s points competition for the second year in a row.
Across the men’s and women’s fields, the UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team came away with 3 stage wins and 3 category jerseys at the 2015 USA Pro Challenge.
- Men’s Stage 3, Kiel Reijnen
- Women’s Stage 3, Coryn Rivera
- Men’s Stage 7, John Murphy
- Men’s Sprinter Green Jersey, Kiel Reijnen
- Women’s Sprinter Green Jersey, Coryn Rivera
- Women’s Best Young Rider, Abby Mickey
General manager and sporting director Mike Tamayo commented, “Our week at the USA Pro Challenge could not have gone better. Yes, I am happy with 2 stage wins from the men, 1 stage win from the women, and the green jersey in both fields. But what I am really proud of is how the team all came together to fight for a common goal. Those are the days that make me the happiest as a director. And how many teams can say they had their men and women win the final stage in Colorado, one of the most important races on this continent, and take the green jerseys. That goes in the highlight reel.”