• Ritchey Commando Takes On Fat Bike Nationals

    fat-bike-nationals-ritchey-commando-2Several weeks ago, Ritchey approached HP and I asking if we’d like to race “Fat Bike National Championships,” in Ogden, Utah. It’s the first year of the event they said, and yes, USA Cycling is sanctioning it.

    We laughed, looked at each other, laughed again, and said, “Hell yeah, that would be fun.” A few conversations and a couple photos later, we were all set for a road trip to Utah from San Francisco.

    After a long drive and a short night of sleep, we arrived at the venue for a course pre-ride. This was important, as we’d probably logged a total of six hours on a fat bike between the two of us, and HP has not spent much time on snow--period. Luckily, the day was sunny and free of wind, a beautiful introduction to riding bikes on the snow. We had a blast shredding through burms and bunny-hopping rollers. The trip was off to a great start.

    fat-bike-nationals-ritchey-commando-3Returning to the parking lot, I looked around for the beer tent. What’s fat bike national championships without a recovery drink, right? I’d seen a beer sponsor for the event on USA Cycling’s website, but they didn’t appear to have come through. A feeling of dread started creeping in.

    “Hey HP, how serious do you think this thing is going to be?” I asked.

    “Probably pretty serious.” She responded. “It’s bike racing, right? And stars-and-stripes jerseys are on the line.”

    I suppose deep down this didn’t come as a surprise. Put a couple racers together, and the most casual situations turn into actual contests. And I’ll admit to being one of the primary instigators. A part of me hoped fat bikes were just silly enough to relax us, but I knew this notion was wrong. I checked once more for the beer tent, and then gave up the search.

    Then next morning was much colder and windier. The spring skiing vibe from the day before was notably absent. We grabbed coffee and donuts for breakfast--figuring that was appropriate nutrition for the event, and made our way up to 9,000 ft, where the start/finish was.

    fat-bike-nationals-ritchey-commando-1HP went off at 9 AM, and kept calm in a small field of “Masters 30-39 women.” She got several compliments during her race, including “Whoa! Ritchey steel!” from another racer on the course. In a world where fat bikes have already gone carbon, we’d earned a little respect for something different.

    fat-bike-nationals-ritchey-commando-4I went off at 1 PM, in a field of 18 “Pro” (a very generous designation) men. I lined up between Ned Overend, Mitch Hoke, Travis Brown, and a guy from Moab wearing baggy shorts and hiking boots. There were more skinsuits and carbon wheels than I’d expected, but it was good to see some baggies too.

    The race started, and after about three minutes of pacelining through a nordic ski trail, we entered the most fun section of the course: a burmed descent that finished over a roller and into the one section of “singletrack.” I got a little too rad coming out of the last burm, went wide over the roller, and just barely put my front wheel into the soft snow next to the singletrack. It sunk in, I tipped over, and that was that--race over. I got back up as soon as I could and gave chase, but the next section was wide open, and I couldn’t manage to close the 50m to the main group that had echeloned across the trail ahead of me. Turns out that on a fat bike, a 50m gap is about as many seconds.

    For the next hour, I asked my sea-level lungs for all they’d give--which wasn’t much. I’d look ahead at a seemingly small gap to the next rider, only to realize that at the speed I was moving, that gap was 30 seconds. Everything was in slow motion. In a moment of clarity, I realized that one of the reasons I like bike racing so much is the speed. I knew in that moment that while riding fat bikes around in the snow was fun, racing them was much less so.

    I rolled through the finish line with a big smile on my face, and gave high fives to a few other riders and friends who were there. I changed out of kit, looked again unsuccessfully for the beer tent, and waited for podiums.

    The next day we went for a ride on the Shoreline Trail in Salt Lake City. We ran into another fat bike rider who was very excited to see us. He mentioned that his fat bike was his primary choice these days, despite the lack of snow. HP asked “What do you like about it?”

    “It just puts me in a different headspace, you know? I ride in my flat pedals, and the rides that used to take three hours now take four. You just can’t be in a hurry.”

    - Kurt Wolfgang

  • Ritchey Commandos Invade Snow Epic


    First Snow Epic Fat Bike Race in Switzerland

    Just as the first Ritchey Commando fat bikes are shipping to bike shops across Europe, two Commandos will be participating in the first ever Snow Epic Stage Race, a five-day event around the mountains of Engelberg, Switzerland taking place between January 14th-17th.

    Italian Giuseppe Ribolzi and Canadian Jean Francois Clermont from Assos Werksteam will take these bikes to the limit. With years of global experience in road and mountain bike stage races, like the famous Cape Epic in South Africa, this will be the first time the Swiss and Canadian members of Assos Werksteam will race on fat bikes in the snow.

    Ritchey Commando Fat Bike Ritchey Commando Fat Bike


    “We are longtime friends and this is exiting for both of us – first time fat bike racing in the snow. We like to challenge ourselves and the product we ride with – in this case it will be the Assos clothing and the Ritchey Commando fat bikes,” Ribolzi said. The main challenge for both riders is having to prepare on separate continents and the current lack of snow in Europe.

    Ritchey is excited to partner with the Assos Werksteam on this first time experience, where Ribolzi and Clermont will push Ritchey Commandos at race level.

    You can follow the daily adventures on....

  • Silver Worlds For Nino Schurter

    After a silver medal in the relay with the Swiss team, Nino's color for the XCO world championships remained the same. The rainbow jersey goes very well deserved to the king of 2014- Julien Absalon.

    Hafjell, Norway. It is not the gold we were hoping for. But this silver medal is a great achievement after an awesome exciting season. Even more because the gold medal went to an outstanding athlete who showed an outstanding performance in most important race of the season- Julien Absalon.

    Nino Schurter (silver) Julien Absalon (gold) Marco Aurelio Fontana (bronce) Nino Schurter (silver) Julien Absalon (gold) Marco Aurelio Fontana (bronce)

    Defending his world champion title was a difficult task for Nino Schurter. Going into this mission all the money was on him after winning 3 World Cup races in a row last month. Everybody (including him) was expecting Nino to win. A situation he can only loose or fulfill the expectations. Not that this is any new to a guy like Nino Schurter, but this time he was victime of the one who was battling him all season long to show up at worlds with a big surprise. Julien Absalon for the first time ever was on a full suspension bike.

    Early in the race the Nr.1 was looking very strong Early in the race the Nr.1 was looking very strong

    The strategy of Nino was the same as in the past two races. He tried to get some time in between him and the rest early in the race. He was successfully doing this and crossed the line after first lap with a 19 second lead over Julien Absalon. Even Nino tried hard to maintain this lead, the French rival looked super strong on the longer climbs and eventually closed that gap in lap 3. The expected battle royal went into the next round. Giving each other sticks on the climbs and fighting for whoever gets into the descents first. Very exciting to watch. New compare to the last races was that Nino did not gain any time on Julien on the descents. This due to the fact that both riders were on of full suspension bike and Nino could not play the advantage as he did in the previous races. It was also obvious that Julien put in everything he had to kill Nino on the climbs. 3 laps to go this strategy paid off. Nino started to crack.

    After Julien Absalon got the gap he was fighting for, he started to fly towards the finish line. Nino on the other hand did not look as strong and controlled as we have seen him last month. Symptomatically to this he produced a severe crash, something we have not seen from him for many years. Last lap the power in the legs and the focus in the head was gone. Luckily the crash only 30 seconds away from the finish line had not bigger consequences. The bronze medal goes to Marco Aurelio Fontana. He was never in contention with the two leading riders.

    A bad crash only 30 seconds before the finish was symptomatically for Nino's finish A bad crash only 30 seconds before the finish was symptomatically for Nino's finish

    The disappointment of loosing his World Champion jersey was written in Nino's eyes when he crossed the line. Tough, he looked at it with the right approach: " Somehow it was just not the day I was expecting. I felt strong in the beginning, but after Julien got back to me I was not feeling as good as few weeks ago. Confronted with the fact that Julien Absalon showed his best performance of the year, I had nothing to hold against him today. But I think it's not a shame to loose against this amazing athlete." Right he is! Absalon won the National-, European-, World Cup- and World Champion title this year!

    When things mellowed down in the evening he also analyzed. " It was a tough program the past 6 weeks- no- it was a tough program all season long! Maybe I was running out of juice before the biggest race of the season was over...?"


    "Somehow it was just not the day I was expecting. Confronted with the fact that Julien Absalon showed his best performance of the year, I had nothing to hold against him today. But I think it's not a shame to loose against this amazing athlete."

    Nino Schurter, World Championship silver medalist
    SCOTT-Odlo MTB Racing Team

    It was exciting watch to Florian Vogel on his World Championship mission. He established himself in great 5th place the first third of the race. What happened after was nothing less than a drama. First his saddle slipped out of position, than he dropped the chain. Still riding in top ten a crash over the jumps destroyed his ambitions completely. The flat tire towards the end gave him the rest. Under this miserable circumstances it was a miracle he made it to the finish. Even it was only a 37th place.

    Florian Vogel with good legs and lot's of bad luck Florian Vogel with good legs and lot's of bad luck

    The last crash report comes from Jenny Rissveds side. In the technical most difficult downhill she crashed hard and had to be taken by the ambulance for check. Luckily nothing is broken. Except her heart. After missing the medal in the eliminator Hafjell was definitely not her world championship. Swiss Jolanda Neff defended her U23 title easily.


    Great news come from our 4th team rider we had in the World Championship game. Andri Frischknecht. He delivered in the most important race of the year his best performance all season long finishing in great 9th place. This comes at an even bigger surprise as he flatted first lap and dropped back to 20th place. With a lot of courage he was fighting his way back into top ten to fulfill his goal. Dutch rider Michiel van der Heijden crowned himself as the new U23 World Champion.

    Andri Frischknecht stayed focus after a flat tire to reach his goal. Andri Frischknecht stayed focus after a flat tire to reach his goal.
  • Scott-Odlo WC Battle Royal – The Latest Edition

    Double Strike!
    The World Cup wins keep on coming! Nino Schurter completes #13 while Jenny Rissveds gets her first Eliminator victory of the season. On top of that Florian rides into top ten.

    It has been a fantastic weekend for the SCOTT riders. Not only did we have two riders in the top 10, but with Geoff Kabush in 12th and Derek Zandstra in 13th, both riding for our Canadian Team SCOTT 3 Rox Racing, the SCOTT family had a strong showing at the US World Cup in Windham, NY. Jenny Rissved's victory in the Eliminator World Cup was underlining the dominance of #scott2luvit.

    The SCOTT Spark 700 with it's pilot on the way to victory. The SCOTT Spark 700 with it's pilot on the way to victory.

    One week after the battle royal in Mont Saint Anne the mission of both rivals was clear. Absalon wanted revenge, Schurter wanted validation. The course in Windham, New York is not the most exciting, not technical at all and has very long climbs- nothing that especially suits Nino. That being said, we learned that even a bad track can offer great racing action when the players are even. The course was more in favor of Julien- no doubt here. Nino on the other hand was in terrific shape. Going into it, anything could happen.

    The podium at the end of the day was similar to that of Mt. Sainte Anne with the same guys in slightly different order. Much like last week, the battle for victory would be very similar once again- Schurter v. Absalon. Once difference to last week was the winning bike. This week, SCOTT-Odlo decided to ride the SCOTT Spark 700. The way the race panned out was a bit different than usual as well. This could have been due to the fact that Nino was on a full suspension bike, and Absalon on a hardtail.

    At first the Flückiger brothers Mathias and Lukas held the lead together with Schurter and Absalon. Ultimately, they stayed out of the real battle. Schurter soon figured out that he could get his full suspension Spark down the hill a good 10-15 seconds faster than Absalon on his hard tail. But Absalon would not be Absalon if he would let it go this easily and always rode up the hill 10-15 seconds faster than Nino. The only time they rode together was a few meters at the top of the climb. Somehow they where even, yet they weren't technically speaking riding together. This made for a spectacular race to watch, and for good content for the hardtail v. fully in XC debate. In the end, Nino was able to get a few seconds out of Julien in the second to last lap, and did not let go. Was it the bike or the talent? Both?

    World Cup victory Nr. 13 for Nino Schurter. Way to go! World Cup victory Nr. 13 for Nino Schurter. Way to go!

    Behind Absalon this time was Lukas Flückiger in third, followed by Australien Daniel Mc Connell and Mathias Flückiger. At the finish Nino was more than pleased about his double strike in North America.
    "It was somehow a cat and mouse game today. Even if I was always a bit ahead, I was hunted all race long. This was not a safe and comfortable situation. I'm happy it played out well in the end. I'm stoked to add two World Cup wins in 8 days to my bank."

    "It was somehow a cat and mouse game today. Even if I was always a bit ahead, I was hunted all race long. This was not a safe and comfortable situation. I'm happy it played out well in the end. I'm stoked to add two World Cup wins in 8 days to my bank."
    Nino Schurter, World Champion
    SCOTT-Odlo MTB Racing Team

    A crash in front of Florian Vogel would slow him down in the first lap. Sitting in 16th he soon found a rythm that moved him up spot by spot. With the top ten in sight he had fire in his eyes to ride one of the fastest last laps. The effort payed out well to secure him a great 9th place.

    On track to a nice top ten finish- Florian Vogel. On track to a nice top ten finish- Florian Vogel.

    After a few second places in the Eliminator discipline, Jenny Rissveds showed that she is hungry for more. With an impressive performance she beat World Cup leader Kathrin Stirnemann by a few centimeters to take her first Eliminator World Cup win of the year. Her 4th win at the sweet age of 20- not so bad! The Cross Country race was not as lucky. A crash in the first lap broke her saddle which had to be changed. She battled her way back to finish in 4th place. Only 5 seconds behind 3rd. And a third place was needed to keep the World Cup leaders jersey. Now it's on winner Margot Moschetti's (also riding on SCOTT bikes) shoulders. With Yana Belamoina there will be three girls in a tight points battle at the World Cup finals in Meribel, France in two weeks.

    Jenny Rissved's efforts to defend the leaders jersey were not enough. Jenny Rissved's efforts to defend the leaders jersey were not enough.

    The men's Eliminator race saw Marcel Wildhaber advancing to the semi final where he finished in a solid 8th place. Andri Frischknecht finished in the top 10 in 9th. This came as a surprise as it was his first attempt ever in a Eliminator World Cup. His 6th fastest qualifying time showed he can get out of the gate quite fast.

    Marcel Wildhaber Marcel Wildhaber
    Andri Frischknecht Andri Frischknecht

    The XCO was a solid one for both of them but there is still room for improovement. Marcel came in 49th, Andri in 13th in the U23.

    It's time to pack up and fly back home. The World Cup finals in Meribel are coming up soon. We are pleased with the results from the two weeks in North America. We had a great time traveling, living, barbecuing... Thanks to the great support of SCOTT 3 Rox Racing. You rock!

    Ritchey sponsors the Scott-Oldo MTB Racing Team with WCS Carbon and WCS Alloy Handlebars, Stems and Seatposts.

  • 12 World Cup Wins for Scott-Odlo's Nino Schurter!

    nino-1-Mont-Sainte-Anne-2014 The World Champion celebrating his 12th World Cup victory.

    The battle between the two best mountain bikers in the world continues. This time it was Nino Schurter's turn, with Nino grabbing his 12th World Cup victory!

    Even the World Champion had to withstand a few critical moments during the race, in the process reminding his rival Julien Absalon just exactly what he still has in store taking back the crown of Mont Sainte Anne, Canada. With a 2nd in the Eliminator and a 3rd place in XCO, Jenny Rissveds is back strong.

    After a two month break the 2014 UCI MTB World Cup goes into its final three rounds this month. First stop-the most classic of all mountain bike World Cups- Mont Sainte Anne, Canada. Usually the toughest of all MTB tracks, this year would be no different. On the steep climbs and in technical descents, talent shines through more obviously than usual. It was no surprise that it came down to the famous duel between the two best riders in the world- Absalon vs. Schurter.


    The race unfolded in a pattern we've seen before. Together with Mathias Flückiger Nino put the hammer down in first lap while Absalon and Kulhavy where not in the top ten at the beginning. Both reacted with a good effort to make it to the front. Absalon made it all the way up to Schurter, Kulhavy got stuck in the group with the two Flückiger brothers and Spanish Sergio Mantecon. From that moment on it was one of these unpredictable eye to eye fights between Schurter and Absalon. Half way through the race the action peaked with a breath taking moment. On the most difficult descent- the famous Beatrice- Nino was riding in second position behind Julien and tried to take the inside line. He was the only one rider to be able to manage this section. Unfortunately Julien got into Nino's way. The result was a crash in a place where nobody wants to go down. Luckily, neither the body nor the bike did not sustain any damage. After a hard chase back an angry Nino was up with Julien again to battle it out for the win.

    In Canada they say, "Don't poke the bear!" And like in a good Hollywood movie the excitement only gets bigger towards the end. Nino's attack came with 1 ½ laps to go on a longer climb. He managed to get 5-7 seconds out of Julien, but his French rival did not give up on the win. They both put each other into the hurt box until the end. That being said, Nino did not let go of this one, clinching his 12th World Cup victory in the process.

    "Sweet how this triumph came together. Hard fighting in a tough duel and all of this here in Canada at one of the most classic of all MTB races. It is almost like a fairy tail. It is a miracle that I got out of this crash with no damage!"
    Nino Schurter, World Champion
    SCOTT-Odlo MTB Racing Team

    Florian Vogel was shooting for a top ten result and until two laps to go it looked like he could accomplish this mission. The heat and humidity started to take out of his performance which made him fade back to 15th at the end.

    Flo Vogel and the Beatrice downhill: a love-hate relationship. Flo Vogel and the Beatrice downhill: a love-hate relationship.

    Here in MSA the double dose of work did not play out well for Marcel Wildhaber. In the Eliminator he missed the semi-final to finish in 9th. With tired lugs, Sunday was never going to be easy. In addition he had to start way back which was a big disadvantage here. He never got into a good racing rhythm and ended up in a disappointing 61st. Also, Andri Frischknecht was not satisfied with his 15th place in the U23 race. Like Florian he was close to a top ten finish until towards the end where cramps in his legs were holding him back.

    Good news came from Jenny Rissveds. After a time of struggles with some health issues she is back on top of her game. In the Eliminator she only had to give way to Kathrin Stirnemann finishing 2nd. Jenny wouzld manage to get another podium spot in the XCO Women's U23 race. She finished solidly in 3rd place behind Yana Belomoina (UKR) and Margot Moschetti (FRA). This was good enough to hold on to her World Cup leader's jersey.


  • Nino Schurter Wins Nove Mesto WC


    World Cup Victory on Spark – When it gets technical, the World Champion is unstoppable- Schurter rides his Spark 700 to his first WC win ever on a full suspension bike.

    Nove Mesto, Czech Republic. What a great pay back for the missing luck in the first round of the World Cup. Nino is back winning in style while Florian Vogel missed the podium by seconds- he finished in good 7th place. Both riders were riding the SCOTT Spark 700 full suspension bike instead of theoir hard tails. Nice to have the choice of the best of both worlds.

    3rd Win in Nove Mesto- Nino celebrating the "hatrick" in Nove Mesto.
    It was the first time this season the "Big Three" got together to compete for the crown at the World Cup. The World Cup leader Julien Absalon already showed he is hot this season. Olympic Champion Jaroslav Kulhavy is always on the run on his home turf and last but not least- Nino Schurter badly wanted to get his first World Cup win of the year. The 19'500 spectators could not ask for more heat in the fire.

    The cross-country skiing arena of Nove Mesto has the perfect setup for a great MTB event.
    Even the tactic is not new to Nino's competitors, the World Champion's attack right from the gun still works excellent. Both Absalon and Kulhavy lost important seconds already in the start loop. Nino's tactic to put them into the hurt box right away played well. Absalon tried hard to close the gap but struggled after a crash. Kulhavy looked fast but unfortunately flatted while trying to catch Nino.

    The World Champion setting the pace of the race on the SCOTT Spark 700. The World Champion setting the pace of the race on the SCOTT Spark 700.

    This left the World Champion in a confident lead after only 1.5 laps. He paced himself well, even let the strong riding Martin Fanger and Stephane Tempier closing up. When also the young Swiss Fanger got a flat front tire, he left Nino in the lead with a home run. It seemed the missing luck of Pietermaritzburg was back on Nino's side. He did win the Nove Mesto World Cup for the third time in a row. Frenchmen Stephane Tempier, German champion Moritz Milatz, Daniel McConnel and Julien Absalon filled up the podium spots.

    The "Rockgarden King" in one of Nove Mesto's DH The "Rockgarden King" in one of Nove Mesto's DH

    The release was written in his eyes. This win came at the right time and place. Nino's comment to his 11th world cup victory: "For a change I choose to ride my SCOTT Spark 700 RC instead of my SCOTT Scale 700 RC as usual. It sure was the right choice for todays rough course. I'm stoked about my first ever World Cup win on a full suspension bike. Today the luck sure was on my side. I made it trough without any mechanicals or crashes. My biggest contenders are not able to say that. So cool to be back on the top of the business."

    "For a change I choose to ride my Spark 700 instead of my Scale 700 as usual. It sure was the right choice for todays rough course."

    Nino Schurter, World Champion
    SCOTT-Odlo MTB Racing Team

    Our second iron in the fire was Florian Vogel. After a strong first lap he was always part of Nino's chasing group. Riding smart he was able to save some energy towards the end of the race. 4th to 7th place where only 20 seconds apart, which showers he is right there to be back on the podium. He also looks at it like this: "I was stoked to stay on Absalon's wheel all race long. In our group all riders started to make little mistakes, so did I. Only a little bit more power in the last half lap and I would be in Top 5. This gives me hope to the next two important races to come, the World Cup in Albstadt and the European Championship in St. Wendel, where I won the title in 2008."


    Marcel Wildhaber had a steady race to 36th place. In the Eliminator competition on Friday, the Swiss champion did not advance to the final. He finished in 10th. Also Jenny Rissveds did not make the final in the Eliminator, but won the small final to become 5th. In the U23 XCO race she started as the leader of the series, but bad luck took all the chances to defend her leaders jersey. In the startloop her chain got caught in between the frame. She made the best out of it finishing 8th.

    In the Men U23 competition we saw Andri Frischknecht riding to his best ever World Cup result. He pushed himself into the top 15 after the start loop and remained there. More, with a very fast last lap he was first of big group that was fighting for 11th place. Dutch rider Michi van der Heijden is the great winner of the race.

    Well done!

  • Eric Marcotte of Team SmartStop wins USA Pro Nationals!

    Photo: Jonathan Devich epiciomages.us

    Team SmartStop have defied the odds finishing first and second at the USA Pro Road Race National Championships.

    In an incredible day racing in Chattanooga, Team SmartStop played the race to perfection during the 165.5km to bring Eric Marcotte. Travis McCabe and Julian Kyer home in first, second and fifth respectively.

    “We won the national championships!” said Director Michael Creed, “they were saying 115, 115, 115, we knew it was Travis, and I had to turn off the tour tracker and then the radio kept saying 114 and it took us a minute to register that it was one of our guys.”

    The win has not yet sunk in for Eric yet and he is very humble about the result: “No it really hasn’t sunk in, its pretty crazy, its surreal because there are plenty of other riders on this team that can go further in their career with this jersey than myself, and I’m not limiting myself but obviously things happen for a reason and hopefully people can take something from this.”

    Photo: Jonathan Devich epiciomages.us Photo: Jonathan Devich epiciomages.us

    “I really want Travis, Josh Julian, Cameron and everyone on the team to continue going further with this. Hopefully this means bigger and better things for the team and everyone involved in it.”

    “We played our cards.”

    Eric and Julian started their national champions attack on the first lap when moves started going and one they found themselves in a ten-man break that stuck for the majority of the race.

    “It happened on the opening lap going across the second bridge, there were a few half hearted accelerations, Eric was up there and someone towed me across to them. All of a sudden there was ten of us and we were rolling,” explained Julian.

    “We were getting time gaps of 30 seconds and then all of a sudden it was a five minutes. When I went with the move I had a voice in my head that said ‘go’ and I rolled up there.”

    Michael played a crucial role in keeping the guys heads in the game continuously giving Eric and Julian updates of what was happening behind them. “Mike kept telling us the situation and it was mayhem in the field,” said Julian.

    Up Lookout Mountain for the final time, Julian, Ben King, Chris Jones and James Stemper broke away from the other breakaway riders and took to the decent in the lead. Eric bridge across to the group of four as they entered the final finishing circuits.

    “Mike had been saying ‘this is probably going to be it. Race with the expectation that one of you is going to win’ so that is how we rode,” said Julian, “we stayed hydrated, kept ourselves cool, a few guys bridged up to us after the big circuits.

    “I saw Eric hit up the Kent St climb once with a lot of snap like it was nothing. I asked him what he though and he looked at me and it was just YES, do you want me to ride for you? I asked, YES.”

    The final couple of kilometers were crucial for the race as Eric explains: “At 1.5km to go behind me was Jacob Rathe, I knew he had some legs on him and I was kind of worried about him because he hadn’t been doing a lot of work. Then somebody attacked and I jumped on the wheel and as we came into the chicane I just went 100% for it and wanted to be first through the corner. I knew Travis was tired and I love the kid but I didn’t want to leave anything to chance.”

    And with that he crossed the line first, with his friend, teammate and fellow Arizonian not far behind him in second. Julian was also up there in the sprint finish in an almost photo finish in fifth.

    “I was falling apart, once feeding closed I started to get really hot and had to meter my effort and be careful about going to the red,” said Julian, “I knew they were in the perfect spot for the lead out and I knew Alex was a great wheel to follow, he’s a safe bet and I stuck on his wheel. Well you’ve come this far you might as well try for a result.”

    Michael has full faith in the team throughout the past two weeks that the team had the talent to take out the national championships: “I thought winning the national championships was possible, but a lot of things had to go our way, by no way did I think it was a pipe dream, going first and second I never would have through that.”

    “Amazing, superb, we came up with a plan last night and we literally it went exactly as we said, the only difference was McCabe changed roles with Marcotte, other then that everything went to plan.”

  • Powers Doubles Up at US Pro Championships, Earns Road Race Title for UHC


    The UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team started the US Women’s National Championship Road Race in Chattanooga, Tennessee today with three riders – Mara Abbott, Katie Hall, and newly celebrated national time trial champion, Alison Powers. Each of the riders was a podium threat on the challenging course and brought immense talent and ability to the roster. Abbott made her mark on the race early, winning the first queen of the mountains competition. Hall then launched a solo attack at 60 kilometers into the 104.8-kilometer race, claiming the win in the second queen of the mountains competition. She fought fiercely on the front of the race until Specialized-Lululemon rider Tayler Wiles bridged up and joined her with 24 kilometers remaining


    Hall strategically sat on the wheel of Wiles, knowing that teammates Mara Abbott and Alison Powers were positioned in the chase group, prepared to fight when the race came back together. Katie Hall followed closely and diligently, matching every effort from the attacking Wiles. Alison Powers took up the chase with 3 riders, closing the gap to Wiles and the waiting Katie Hall. At 10 kilometers to go, Powers launched a massive attack out of the chase group, overtaking the previous breakaway and gaining an advantage on her chase companions in the process. With a gap of only a few seconds, Powers unleashed her time trial form and motored through the final circuits with the national title on the line. She crested the final "wall" climb with her advantage intact and put her head down for the final 6 kilometers. The blistering pace set by Powers reduced the chase group to just two rivals: Megan Guarnier and Evelyn Stevens. Powers held her advantage through the finishing arch, triumphantly crossing the line with a huge smile and 15 seconds to spare. The performance today made history as Powers is the only woman to simultaneously hold the US national championship jersey in all three disciplines: Friday’s 2014 time trial and today’s 2014 road race, in addition to the current 2013 national criterium title which she will have the opportunity to defend in September. Mara Abbott earned the queen of the mountains title for her efforts on the steep climbs while teammate and main aggressor Katie Hall claimed 5th place in the finale.


    In the meeting before the race, the team discussed not only strategy and tactics but also motivation— the UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team would race for their teammate, Jackie Crowell. Crowell was not able to join the team in Tennessee, as she was diagnosed with brain cancer earlier this year. The grand prize offered to the national champion was the 1-year lease of a brand new car from the event’s sponsor, Volkswagen. The team decided that if all went according to plan and they won the race, they would donate the grand prize to Jackie Crowell. In the awards ceremony, Alison had a message for her teammate, “This is Jackie Crowell’s car because she’s such an amazing teammate and she’s not able to be here with us. Jackie, thanks for being awesome; we miss you.”

    Regarding the race, Powers added, "Today is amazing and really special. To make history and win a car for Jackie is a dream come true. It was a real team effort and I'm proud of Mara and Katie."

    Sports Director Rachel Heal summarized, "This was another incredible team performance. We knew going into the race that we were outnumbered, but we were also confident that we had the strength and savvy to pull off something special. The riders raced to absolute perfection. They were patient at the start when it was needed. Mara made the call to have Katie attack on the climb, and then Katie rode with the strength that we knew she had, but also with the maturity and tactical savvy that shows just how far she's come in the past few months. Alison had the confidence and sheer determination needed to stay clear and solo in for a very sweet victory. It was a full team effort and truly a team victory for the riders and for the staff members, such as Tavis and Adrian. We're all proud to be part of the UnitedHealthcare Blue Train."

  • Marc de Maar on GC Podium in Norway, Earns 2nd Overall for the UHC Pro Cycling Team


    The UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team concluded the 5-stage Tour of Norway today with Marc de Maar earning 2nd place on the general classification podium. A triumphant breakaway victory on Stage 2 launched Marc de Maar into the overall race lead. The stage win came on a difficult day of racing, with harsh crosswinds and a technical final segment. Marc de Maar sensed a moment of indecision within the group and jumped out of the peloton with 30 kilometers left in the stage. Just one rider, Maciej Paterski of Team CCC Polsat Polkowice, followed him on the attack. The pair put their heads down and powered to the finish line, successfully holding off the chasing peloton. Marc de Maar proved the strongest on the day, as he outsprinted his breakaway companion for the stage victory.

    De Maar defended the race leader’s yellow jersey on stages 3 and 4, thanks to the incredible support and determination of his teammates. The entire UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team worked to control the beginning of today’s final stage, with the goal of protecting the leader's jersey for the overall win. Davide Frattini and Alessandro Bazzana accompanied Marc de Maar for the remainder of the stage until the final 20 kilometers. From there, it was up the race leaders. An attack in the final 3 kilometers cost de Maar 6 seconds on the stage, putting the overall victory just 3 seconds out of his reach. Sports Director Roberto Damiani said, “I’m very proud of these riders, they struggled but fought hard to defend their captain, Marc de Maar, and the yellow jersey.”


    Summarizing the team’s efforts throughout the week, Damiani added, “We came very close to winning this race. We raced well – with our heads, hearts, legs, and strong team spirit. Carlos Alzate, Robert Förster, and Aldo Ilesic were huge assets this week and worked very hard. Davide Frattini and Alessandro Bazzana were incredible in supporting de Maar. They all gave more than 100%. We return home with a fantastic stage win and send our congratulations to the race winner.” The next race in the UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team’s European campaign will be the UCI 2.1-rated Tour des Fjords, a 5-stage race starting in Bergan, Norway on the 28th of May and concluding in Stavanger, Norway on June 1st.

    All Photos © 2014 Tour of Norway

  • Alexander Kristoff Takes the Stage Win in Tour of Norway Opener


    Russian WorldTour Team Katusha kicked of the 2.HC Tour of Norway with a nice victory: Alexander Kristoff took a perfect win at the 1st stage of the race after a fantastic team strategy.

    "I am glad to take a victory from the beginning. For me the Tour of Norway is a very important race, so to be successful here really counts for me. The final of the stage was not ideal for my abilities, the last km was pretty hard, but thanks to my team I was able to win. During the whole stage the guys worked hard for me – they supported me and controlled the breakaway. In the final, I received huge help from Marco Haller. I am really happy to finish the perfect team work with such a victory" explained Alexander Kristoff.

    The first stage of the Tour of Norway was held around Larvik and constituted 147,5 km. Practically from the beginning the breakaway of 7 riders was developed. They took a good advantage of 5 minutes, but thanks to Team Katusha, who worked in front of the peloton almost the entire day, the break was neutralized in the final 10 km.

    Because of the rain it was quite dangerous in the final part of the stage, but the peloton still had a very high pace. At the final km Belkin riders tried to attack, but Katusha was able to close the gap. After that Kristoff started his victorious sprint. Second place went to Sondre Holst Enger from Team Sparbanken, while the daily podium was completed by Tom Van Asbroeck from Topsport-Vlaanderen.

    "At the final km the road was slippery with some dangerous points. But we were able to pass it without problems. Before the final corner with 300 meters to go I was in a good position, but maybe not ideal. It was Nordhaug from Belkin who attacked, but Marco Haller helped me – he closed the gap and led me to the front. All I had to do – just to start my sprint," added Alexander Kristoff.

    "Today, our team was absolutely incredible. All riders did a perfect race and did their 100% for our common result. We had only one plan for today – to help Alexander Kristoff to take the win. And we did it. It was not easy at all to control the race with only 6 riders in the roster, but Katusha managed to get the success," said sports director of Team Katusha Torsten Schmidt.

    Unfortunately, Katusha’s Petr Ignatenko crashed badly inside the final kilometer, getting a serious injury of his right shoulder. He was able to finish the stage, but afterwards was immediately taken to the hospital for checking.

    Alexander Kristoff became the leader of the general classification of the Tour of Norway as well as the leader of the point’s classification.

    Today’s success of Alexander became the 7th victory of Team Katusha in 2014.

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