UnitedHealthcare unveils eight solid new signings, including Euser, Bazzana, Reijnen and Ilesic
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Monday, November 19, 2012

UnitedHealthcare unveils eight solid new signings, including Euser, Bazzana, Reijnen and Ilesic

by VeloNation Press at 10:37 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
 
American team strengthens lineup prior to 2013 season

Lucas EuserDescribing the new signings as riders of ‘tremendous talent,’ the American UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling team today announced the identities of eight riders who will move across to the squad in 2013.

Lucas Euser, Alessandro Bazzana, Kiel Reijnen, Martyn Irvine, Danny Summerhill, Aldo Ilesic, John Murphy, and Luke Keough are all coming on board the Pro Continental team and will, according to general manager and team director Mike Tamayo, help it move on to bigger results next season.

“We are thrilled with the latest additions to our 2013 roster,” stated Tamayo. “These eight guys have tremendous talent and all bring something special to the table. In addition to being elite professional athletes, they are all high character guys who will represent our sponsors and our sport well both on and off the bike.”

“It is no secret we have high expectations for our Team, and we are pleased to have a total of 21 riders who fit the bill and we believe can help us reach our goals.”

The eight riders will join up with thirteen others who will remain from the 2012 squad, giving a total of 21 for the year ahead.

Euser [pictured] previously raced with Garmin-Slipstream and more recently spent two years with the SpiderTech C10 team. He recovered from a bad collision with a car in 2009 and took eighth this year in both the overall classification of the Tour of Utah and on the Crested Butte stage of the USA Pro Cycling Challenge.

Tamayo believes he deserves the chance to head a strong team. “Lucas has always been a solid climber and proved throughout this year that he can climb with the best of them,” he said. “He has also learned a lot about his incredible ability as well as his limitations. He can be a leader, and on this team he will get the opportunity to let those things shine.”

The 29 year old rider explained what he found appealing about the setup. “The UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team that has a strong commitment to winning and with UnitedHealthcare being a brand that cares about its riders and its customers, I am excited about racing,” he said. “I can't wait to join my teammates on the podium. This is sweet reward after coming back from a nearly career ending injury.”

Another who the team believes will shine in hilly races is Kiel Reijnen, which it describes as ‘one of the best young American climbers in the peloton.’ He showcased his ability in 2010 when the-then Jelly Belly rider won the Tour of Thailand, finished third in the Tour of Qinghai Lake and fourth in the Tour of Taiwan.

This year was his second with Team Type 1 and after winning the 2011 Tour of Rwanda, he clocked up more good performances in that squad’s colours. These included the bronze medal in the US road race championships, second on three stages and ninth overall in the Tour of Qinghai Lake plus a solid seventh on stage one of the USA Pro Cycling Challenge.

“I’ve watched how this team continues to grow, its high level of professionalism, and the outstanding results the guys deliver at the races,” the Boulder native said. “I’m looking forward to a great year ahead being a part of a winning tradition. My goal is to keep that going and definitely add to it.”

Tamayo is clearly excited about the signing. “Kiel has been on the podium at the US Pro Road Race and at some of the hardest mountain top finishes in Asia. With the proper support and preparation, we expect big things from him this year,” he said.

John Murphy won the Tour of Taiwan two years before Reijnen’s Thailand triumph, taking the victory in the second of two years with the UnitedHealthcare team’s predecessor, Health Net/Maxxis. Since then he’s raced with the BMC Racing Team and, this year, with Kenda – 5 Hour Energy.

He took second overall in the 2012 Tour of Elk Grove, fifth in the Philadelphia International Championship and tenth in the Tour of Battenkill. Now he’s heading back to where his career started. “It is great to be back with the team and staff with Team UnitedHealthcare. I can’t wait for the season to get underway and see what heights this group of guys can ascend to in 2013,” he said.

Tamayo notes that the team helped in the early development of the 27 year old, and welcomes him back for 2013. “John comes back to us with two seasons of experience as a Pro Tour rider, which is invaluable,” he said. “His understanding of how we operate and the recent European experience he’s gained make John a great fit.”

Another with some experience of racing with a WorldTour team is the 23 year old talent Danny Summerhill. He had a stagiaire slot with the Garmin- Cervelo team last year and competed in races such as the USA Pro Cycling Challenge, the Circuit Franco Belge – where he was fourth on a stage - and Gran Piemonte.

“Danny is young and full of passion. He wants to perform, he wants to sacrifice, and he wants to impress. His ‘go get ‘em’ attitude is a major strength and that will help get this kid to the top,” Tamayo predicted. “We had the opportunity to see first hand what he can do while he was racing for us in Colorado at the USA Pro Challenge last season [2012 – ed.] and we are pleased to have him on the team for 2013.”

Summerhill will aim to ride well on the road, but is also determined to earn the backers some publicity during the cyclo-cross season too.

“This team has done so much for me, picking me up and taking me to my first Pro Continental team, that I want to do all I can to help the sponsors and help the team,” he said. “They deserve all the credit I can give them, so if I can help do that in the winter time and the off-season when we don’t have any road races, then that’s great!”

Bazzana, Ilesic, Irvine and Keogh boost sprinting side of team:

The other four riders signed are expected to help the team become more competitive in the sprint aspect of the sport. Alessandro Bazzana is described by Tamayo as being one of the ‘few quick riders that can make it over a climb,’ making him a good bet when the race routes are tough enough to thin out the bunch.

The Italian won a stage of the Tour of Austria this year, and was second and third on stages of the USA Pro Cycling Challenge. He also clocked up top ten finishes in the Four Days of Dunkirk, the Tour de Suisse plus Paris-Corrèze, and was seventh in Paris-Brussels.

“Joining Team UnitedHealthcare motivates me to continue the improvement I experienced over the past two years as a cyclist,” he said. “I’ve known and admired this team since I turned professional in 2007 and being part of it today gives me a major sense of responsibility and excitement.”

He will be joined by Slovenian fastman Aldo Ilesic, who also competed for Team Type 1 Sanofi this year. He had an impressive season, netting second in the Philadelphia International, then winning stages of the Tour of Qinghai Lake, the Tour do Rio and the Tour of China I.

“This is a first-class operation and I look forward to doing what I can to help make a team that is already very good that much better,” he said.

Tamayo knows that his signing could pay off well for the team. “Aldo is a good sprinter in his own right. He can win races and can also be a huge asset to a very strong lead out,” he said. “Aldo is part of an upgrade in horsepower to our UnitedHealthcare Blue Train.”

Two others will also do a lot to help that sprint train oomph. Double Irish criterium champion Martyn Irvine is stepping up to the Pro Continental level after focussing mainly on track for the past three years. He competed in the Omnium event at the London Olympics and on Friday and Saturday just gone, he took silver medals in the scratch race and individual pursuit at the Glasgow World Cup.

He’s continuing to get stronger and after netting second in the Irish time trial championship this year plus fourth in the road race, is keen to work hard in the peloton and show his strength.

“Martyn is our little secret,” said Tamayao. “He comes from a track racing background where he represented Ireland in the 2012 Olympics. After seeing his work ethic while training and his huge horsepower, adding Martyn to our sprint team was a no brainer.”

Irvine gave his own reaction earlier, saying that he was ‘super-excited’ to race for the team.

The eighth newcomer is the American rider Luke Keough, who is the younger brother of team sprinter Jake Keough. The latter is convinced that they will perform very well together. “Having Luke join us will be an incredible asset for both myself and Team UnitedHealthcare,” he said. “Luke and I train together on a daily basis and we are able to communicate very well with one another on the bike, which will lead to us being a force to be reckoned with in the bunch sprints. Luke is capable of doing the lead out in the sprints at big UCI races and is a proven winner here on domestic soil.”

His brother raced with Team SmartStop p/b Mountain Khakis this season and like the other seven, is keen to show what he can do with the UnitedHealthcare team. “I have raced against these guys for the past few seasons and have watched as the team grew into the best in the country,” he said. “My goal has always been to race at the top level of the sport and now I have the chance to do so with UnitedHealthcare.

“These are some of the best guys in the sport and my goals are to learn from them, gain experience and become an asset to a winning squad.”

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