Rory Sutherland excited by UnitedHealthcare growth
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Saturday, October 29, 2011

Rory Sutherland excited by UnitedHealthcare growth

by Xylon van Eyck at 6:34 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Interviews
 
Australian says he is looking forward to racing hard next season

RoryThe UnitedHealthcare pro cycling team enjoyed its first season as a Pro Continental team, racing a more extensive program than its traditional American schedule. Robert Förster won a stage at both the Vuelta a Asturias (Spain) and Tour Of Qinghai Lake (China), while the team also received European-scene invites to Volta ao Algarve, Giro del Trentino and Settimana Internazionale di Coppi e Bartali.

It wasn’t unknown territory for experienced team captain Rory Sutherland, as he previously competed in Europe with Dutch team Rabobank until 2005.

“The season was good,” he told VeloNation. “I think the main thing was to be open-minded going into the season with respect to the changes happening within the team regarding the program, travel, etc. I look at 2011 as a learning experience. You try new things, see what works and what doesn't.

“Then, during the off season, be sure you take the time to really look at the season and be honest with yourself about how and where you can improve, what you want to change, and what it will take to consistently get better.”

The Australian showed his TT prowess when he finished third in both time trials at the Settimana Internazionale di Coppi e Bartali and Vuelta a Asturias. He then returned to an American racing calendar where he finished a respectable seventh place overall in the Tour of California, one place ahead of Andy Schleck.

“Our European racing schedule was complete with the ups and downs, as you would expect,” he said. “The biggest factor I noticed was everything was new again. Living in a different place, doing trips to and from the USA, time away from family, etc. The schedule in general was good.

“It is always difficult as a Pro Continental Team to get into races, even more so as a developing one. However, the team did a great job finding ways to provide us with a great program which helps us all develop and the experience definitely made us better this year.”

UnitedHealthcare will continue its upward growth curve next season, adding key riders to its roster to continue its development. Vuelta a España stage winner Philip Deignan and Jason McCartney join from Team RadioShack while Jeff Louder, Jay Thomson and Ben Day will also be new members to the team next season.

Sutherland confessed his excitement at working with the new team members. “We already have a great group of riders, some staying, some leaving, but the addition and the skills that the new guys bring will hopefully continue to show the depth in the team and continue to allow the team to grow.”

He mentioned that he will again be targeting the Tour of California. However he said that should another rider on the team be stronger than he is, he won’t hesitate in putting his personal ambitions aside. For now, Sutherland is enjoying the off season with his family but told VeloNation come next year, he’ll be racing his bike as hard has he can at every race.

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