UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team Announces New and Returning Riders for 2014 Season

SoCalCycling.com September 17, 2013 0
UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team Announces New and Returning Riders for 2014 Season

The UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team announced today, Monday, September 16, 2013, that three new riders have officially joined the US-based Pro Continental squad for the 2014 season. The newest members to join the Blue Train include Ken Hanson (USA), Martijn Maaskant (NED) (announced last week), and Isaac Bolivar(COL).

The new arrivals will join an array of returning athletes. Among the key returning veterans who will welcome the new trio to the team are six standouts known for consistently helping deliver podium-results throughout the 2013 season. Those athletes include Kiel Reijnen (USA), Lucas Euser (USA), Hilton Clarke (AUS), Robert Förster (GER), Carlos Alzate (COL), and Marc de Maar (CUR).

Along with several other members of current Team UnitedHealthcare unit, these six riders have been seen on the top three steps of the podium or donning special classification jerseys throughout the season. The remainder of the 2014 roster will be announced shortly.

General Manager and Team Director Mike Tamayo spoke enthusiastically about how the new athletes will blend with his returning charges, stating, “Teamwork is the spirit of the Blue Train and every member of our organization buys into and delivers on that promise. And with Team UnitedHealthcare, we don’t just talk the talk – we walk it. We work hard to find the right people who are selfless in their effort to produce wins for the team and our sponsors – both on and off the bike.”

Commenting on the three new signees, Tamayo said the following:

Ken Hanson  (USA)

“Ken has had some good results this year and caught my eye as well as that of (Team Director) Hendrik Redant, when he landed on the podium at the Amgen Tour of California. He is an easy plug and play into our Blue Train.”

- Mike Tamayo

Ken Hanson joins the squad from the Optum Pro Cycling presented by Kelly Benefit Strategies team, where the sprinter had two top 10 finishes at this year’s Amgen Tour of California, including runner-up placing on Stage 4. A former US Pro Criterium champion (2012), Hanson’s rich history of podium finishes includes the top spot at stages of the Tour of Elk Grove, Tour de Korea, Volta ao Alentejo, and Vuelta al Uruguay and winning Gastown Grand Prix (2013 and 2012), Gooikse Pijl (2012) and Manhattan Beach Grand Prix (2012).

Martijn Maaskant (NED)

“We have always done quite a few spring races in Belgium and with the addition of Martijn to the team, we now we have a leader with experience and results in those races. He is a winner and has proven it in the past.”

- Mike Tamayo

Celebrated classics rider Martijn Maaskant will add experience and strength when he joins the UnitedHealthcare roster for the 2014 season. The former Garmin-Sharp rider rose to prominence in 2008 when he finished fourth at Paris-Roubaix. In 2009, he took fourth at the Tour of Flanders. In addition to completing four grand tours, Maaskant’s major accolades include first at the Ronde van Drenthe (2007 and 2009) and the overall at the Tour de Normandie (2007).

Isaac Bolivar (COL)

“Isaac is a young rider, but we expect good things from him next season. We are seeing a strong showing of Colombian athletes emerging on the global cycling stage and it our hope that we will see some great rides from this young talent, especially in the high mountains.”

- Mike Tamayo

Colombian rider Isaac Bolivar experienced a standout 2013 season. The 22 year-old rider he won the Colombian Under 23 National Time Trial Championship, was runner-up at the Pan Am Continental Under 23 Road Championship and took third at the Pan Am Continental Under 23 Time Trial Championship. In 2012, Bolivar clinched the Best Young Rider classification at the Tour do Rio when he finished 11th overall. Other accolades include winning Stage 5 at the Vuelta a Guatemala (2012).

Speaking on the return of six of his veterans, Tamayo had the following to say:

Marc de Maar (CUR)

“Marc is a veteran member of this team and to European racing. He is a leader for us in week-long stage races.”

- Mike Tamayo

Former Curacao national road race and time trial champion Marc de Maar enjoyed another solid year with the UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team when he won Stage 5 at the Tour de Beauce and earned top 10 finishes at the Classic Sud Ardèche – Souvenir Francis Delpech and Volta Limburg Classic. In 2012, de Maar won Stage 5 and was runner-up on Stage 7 at the Tour of Britain and took fifth on Stage 1 of the Tour of Portugal.

Robert Förster (GER)

“Robert is the anchor and glue of the Blue Train. He is back from injury and hungry. And not only is he back, he is even better!”

- Mike Tamayo

Veteran rider Robert Förster has competed in all three grand tours and has won three stages in the Giro d’Italia and one in the Vuelta a España. In 2013, the German rider triumphantly returned from a serious early season infection following knee surgery, and won Stage 6 of the Tour of Qinghai Lake and took third on Stage 5 of the Tour of Alberta. In addition to his nearly dozen wins and 20 podium finishes in the past three years, Förster serves as a key leader on the UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team.

Lucas Euser (USA)

“Lucas Euser arrived on our team this year and he stepped up for us. His ability to learn patience on the bike combined with his climbing strength landed him on some key podiums. He is only going to get better.”

- Mike Tamayo

Lucas Euser has produced a wealth of results in his first year with Team UnitedHealthcare. Euser proved to be a factor for and an asset to the team every time he raced. Among other results he produced, the exciting GC podium threat finished fourth overall at the 2013 Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah after taking third on Stage 3. Other standout results this year included third on Stage 6 of the Tour de Beauce and third on Stage 1 of Tour of the Gila.

Hilton Clarke (AUS)

“Hilton has become a true crit specialist. He is not just a winner, but he is also a leader for us. Hilton teaches other riders that killer-instinct winning mentality. And he delivers in clutch situations.”

- Mike Tamayo

Sprinting sensation Hilton Clarke had another memorable year with the UnitedHealthcare squad when he defended both his National Criterium Calendar (NCC) individual champion title and his USA CRITS Championship Series title. Clarke won a host of races in 2013 and led the Blue Train to numerous podium finishes on the US criterium circuit. The confident and charismatic Clarke plans on leading his teammates to another successful season in 2014.

Kiel Reijnen (USA)

“This year we saw Kiel not only on podiums, but also on the top step of two American UCI races. He helped get the points for us to lead the America Tour competition. Kiel has gotten big confidence this season, not just in himself, but also from his teammates.”

- Mike Tamayo

In 2013, Kiel Reijnen proved to be one of the team’s highest results-producing riders. His 2013 banner campaign included wins at the Parx Casino Philly Cycling Classic, Thompson Bucks County Classic and Stage 4 at the Tour of the Gila. Other podium results included Reijnen’s third at the USA Cycling Road National Championship and third on Stage 1 of the USA Pro Challenge. Not only can Reijnen sprint, but the do-it-all rider from Bainbridge, Washington, is also one of the best young climbers in America. Additional accolades prior to joining Team UnitedHealthcare this season include victories at the Tour of Thailand and the Tour of Rwanda while racing with his former squad.

Carlos Alzate (COL)

“A Colombian sprinter is a rare thing, but we found one! Carlos has gotten some wins this year for us as well as providing depth to handle the harder races.”

- Mike Tamayo

In his inaugural year with Team UnitedHealthcare, Colombian sprinter Carlos Alzate’s sprinting skills were a welcome addition to the high-powered Blue Train. The veteran rider won the overall title during USA CRITS SpeedWeek and finished second behind Hilton Clarke’s NCC individual champion title. Alzate was also runner-up on all three days of Tulsa Tough behind teammate Luke Keough.

Photo © Christy Nicholson / EchelonDesignPhoto.com

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