USA Pro challenge preview: UHC Pro Cycling is ready

By August 17, 2015Bike

The 2015 USA Pro Challenge presents great opportunity for the UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team with seven iconic stages for the men and three all-new stages for the women around the mountainous state of Colorado. The talented international field, deep crowds, amazing mountain scenery and friendly host towns have helped the USA Pro Challenge become a premier event on the US Calendar.

In 2014, Kiel Reijnen lit up the race with a triumphant victory on the opening stage in Aspen, Colorado. The team united around Reijnen for the remaining stages, dominating the sprint category to claim the overall sprinter’s green jersey after the final stage in Denver. In 2015, the team will once again look for opportunities to add another jersey to the UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team collection.

Reijnen said of the race, “The USA Pro Challenge is a race we look forward to every year. It’s our chance to show off in front of home crowds on our training roads. The team had a stellar showing last week at Tour of Utah so we are headed to the Pro Challenge with confidence and a taste for yellow.”

The men’s race begins on a 47-mile circuit in beautiful Routt County. The circuit starts and finishes in downtown Steamboat Springs, and will be completed twice by the eager peloton, totaling 6518 feet of climbing. The 96-mile stage will likely end with a sprint finish, and the UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team will be riding hard on the front of the pack with the aim of positioning their talented sprinters for the finale. 

Day two leads the peloton south towards Summit County. The mountaintop finish at Arapahoe Basin comes after 115 miles of racing, and will be a great opportunity for the team to test its strength in the mountains. The five-mile finishing climb on Loveland Pass road will be a true spectacle for the crowds lining the steep mountain road. Stage three takes place in the high mountains. With the backdrop of Mt. Elbert, the highest peak in Colorado, the peloton will head over Independence Pass to Aspen, before returning to Summit County on Stage Four– the 126-mile trek through South Park to Breckenridge. With intermediate sprint points available throughout and an ambitious field of international talent, the stage will be filled with aggressive racing.

The ever important individual time trial moves from Vail to Breckenridge for 2015, with a hilly 8.5-mile route sure to push the riders to their limit. The time trial also serves as the first stage of the women’s edition, adding fresh legs and a new dynamic to the event. With the high mountains in the background, the race will then head to the Front Range for an exciting second half of the week. A long and mountainous stage six will take riders to northern Colorado, finishing in Fort Collins with Buckhorn and Rist Canyons in between. The final seventh stage will begin with the iconic Lookout Mountain climb in Golden. As has become tradition for the race, the streets of Denver will play host to an exciting circuit race to end the week’s racing. With a long run in to the finish, expect to see the UnitedHealthcare Blue Train come to the front to battle it out for the win.

The UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team brings a strong and close-knit roster to the USA Pro Challenge. After a successful Tour of Utah, Kiel Reijnen is on top form and will be the one to watch on the opening punchy stage in Steamboat Springs. Alongside Reijnen, The UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling team is fielding sprinters John Murphy and Marco Canola. With options in the sprint finishes and plenty of horsepower to control the race, the UnitedHealthcare Blue Train will be a crowd favorite throughout the week.

Accomplished climber and time trial specialist Janez Brajkovič, will lead the charge in the rarefied air of the high mountains and the Breckenridge Time Trial. In the breakaways and lead out trains, talented all-around riders Danny Summerhill, Tanner Putt, Chris Jones, and team captain Jonny Clarke complete the versatile roster. Reijnen is entering the race with confidence, “I will be looking to add to my stage tally and finish the week wearing the sprint jersey again. We, of course, have Jani for GC and John Murphy for the larger group sprints making for a well-rounded squad regardless of how the race plays out.”

General Manager and Sporting Director Mike Tamayo commented, “After a long, hard early season, the riders were able to take some rest and then execute quality training together before this stage racing block. What we saw in Utah was an incredibly strong and cohesive group of teammates, willing to do anything for each other. Our guys are highly motivated and prepared as they head to Colorado.” 

The inaugural 2015 Women’s USA Pro Challenge is a three-day invitation-only event, kicking off in Breckenridge on August 21st and concluding in Golden on August 23rd. The USA Pro Challenge is the largest spectator event in the history of the state, and will spotlight the best of the best in professional cycling.

The UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team, fresh off a stage win and overall victory at the Tour of Utah, will be lining up with the dynamic sprinting pair of Hannah Barnes and Coryn Rivera. Katie Hall and Abby Mickey bring immense climbing ability, with proven all-around rider Scotti Wilbourne and time trial expert Linda Villumsen completing the roster.

Hall’s victory at the Tour of California early in the year proved she has the legs to climb with the best. Rivera is confident in the team she will be racing with at the USA Pro Challenge, “After a great finish at the Tour of Utah Women’s Edition, the Women’s team is looking forward to continuing our relentless teamwork to propel us to more success at the USA Pro Challenge. The ultimate goal for the team is to win, we don’t show up on the line for 2nd place.”

Track UHC live at the USA Pro here!