Optum-Kelly Benefit Strategies puts trio in top 10 at Volta a la Rioja

Ken Hanson leads the squad with a podium finish

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Optum-Kelly Benefit Strategies placed three riders into the top 10 in Sunday’s Volta a la Rioja in another strong showing for the U.S.-registered team making forays in Europe.

Francesco Lasca (Caja Rural-RGA) kicked to victory in the 158km race in Spain’s Rioja region, with Michael Matthews (Orica-GreenEdge) taking second.

Ken Hanson led Optum with third place. Eric Young was fourth and Mike Friedman ninth. Hanson, the 2012 national criterium champ, took a win earlier this month in Portugal.

That strong performance comes on the heels of two stage victories and second place overall with Chad Haga at the Volta ao Alentejo last week in Portugal.

The team continues its four-week European swing with the Vuelta a Castilla y León in northern Spain next week.

Sunday’s race was marked by a forced stop with about 50km to go when the peloton was directed off-course due to a nearby traffic accident.

That prompted race organizers to restart the race. At the time, there were 14 riders up the road, including four from Movistar, but their gap was less than 30 seconds.

The gap was erased and the group kept together before a mass sprint.

Spanish racing continues Monday with the first stage of the six-day Vuelta al País Vasco across Spain’s mountainous Basque Country.


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