Kelly Benefit Strategies – OptumHealth feeling good after Tour of Utah
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Monday, August 15, 2011

Kelly Benefit Strategies – OptumHealth feeling good after Tour of Utah

by Kyle Moore at 6:01 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
 
American team places Bajadali twelfth overall

Jesse AnthonyThe American squad Kelly Benefit Strategies-OptumHealth concluded a solid Tour of Utah yesterday, as Andrew Bajadali finished fourteenth on the queen stage to Snowbird Ski Resort, securing his twelfth place overall. The team also won a stage with Nature Valley Grand Prix champion Jesse Anthony (pictured).

Anthony was forced to give up his top five placing on the general classification earlier in the week when he came down sick. Even with this bit of bad luck, team directors gave their race a very positive review. It was another good result for Bajadali, the reliable American veteran.

“Baj has been building his form all year in preparation for these late-season stage races, and he didn’t disappoint,” team director Jonas Carney enthused yesterday. “His was a fantastic finish for a continental rider against a field of this caliber, and it shows he is coming into form nicely.”

On stage five, Bajadali finished four minutes 37 seconds behind stage winner Sergio Henao (Gobernacion de Antioquia-Indeportes Antioquia), in the company of Cesar Grajales of RealCyclist.com. The American finished 18 seconds ahead of Grajales in the general classification.

“I knew the race was going to explode,” Bajadali explained after yesterday’s stage. “[Stage four] was an incredibly hard race [with 11 difficult circuits], but I knew the climb today would be even more extreme.”

“All year I have been focused on performing at these late-season events, and I finally feel like my form is starting to truly recover. I'm always left wanting more, but I still feel pretty good about the team's effort this week.”

It was on stage one that Kelly Benefit Strategies-OptumHealth got its biggest win of the season. Anthony attacked on the second climb of North Ogden Pass and began soloing down the other side before being caught by a group of overall favorites. As they worked to consolidate their lead, Anthony rested up at the back of the line, and was the fastest of the group to the finish line.

“When Jesse launched his attack on the second lap, it seemed like a suicide move,” Carney remarked after stage one. “There was a group of four riders a minute and a half up the road and the pack was moving fast. Jesse just kept hammering away until the pack eased up and he made it to the leaders. At that point we knew he had a chance to make it to top of the climb before being caught.”

“It was disappointing that Jesse didn't get a chance to race for a top ten finish here due to illness,” Carney stated. “Despite the bad luck, he can go home with a huge smile on his face and his head held high. Both the win and how he accomplished it were nothing short of extraordinary.”

KBS-OptumHealth will soon head overseas for a series of one-day races in Belgium and France. Amongst others, they will start Belgium’s Druivenkoers Overijse (UCI 1.1) and France's Tour du Doubs (UCI 1.1).

Carney is looking forward to seeing Bajadali race on European roads. “I can't wait to see what he can do next week during our European campaign,” he added.

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