Domestic Intel: Optum makes big splash in Portugal

Exergy expands junior program and looks for support; Allar, Clarke lead the U.S. criterium calendars; two qualify for Nature Valley Grand Prix

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Allar, Clarke lead NCCC, USA Crits series

Erica Allar (Care4Cycling-Solomon) and Hilton Clarke (UnitedHealthcare) led the standings of the National Criterium Calendar and USA Crits series released this week. Clarke won the men’s race at Saturday’s Delray Beach Twilight Festival in Florida. Allar was second, behind Jaquelyn Crowell (Exergy Twenty16), in the women’s race.

Both series continue on April 13 at the Presbyterian Hospital Invitational in Charlotte, North Carolina.

USA Crits men’s standings
1. Hilton Clarke, UnitedHealthcare, 479 points
2. Shane Kline, SmartStop-Mountain Khakis, 460 points
3. Rafael Meran, CRCA-Foundation, 401 points
4. Euris Vidal, CRCA-Foundation, 398 points
5. Carlos Alzate, UnitedHealthcare, 374 points
6. Kevin Mullervy, Champion System-Stan’s NoTubes, 341 points
7. Derek Wilkerson, Bomb Hair-Motofish, 336 points
8. Thomas Brown, SmartStop-Mountain Khakis, 294 points
9. Neil Bezdek, CRCA-Foundation, 269 points
10. Conor Mullervy, Champion System-Stan’s NoTubes, 265 points

USA Crits women’s standings
1. Erica Allar, Care4Cycling powered-Solomon, 506 points
2. Joanie Caron, Primal Pro Women-BH, 462 points
3. Lenore Pipes, Care4Cycling-Solomon, 413 points
4. Lauren Stephens, FCS-Zngine, 396 points
5. Morgan Patton, Novo Nordisk, 391 points
6. Tiffany Pezzulo, Primal Pro Women-BH, 355 points
7. Anna Sanders, FCS-Zngine, 319 points
8. Melina Bernecker, Primal Pro Women-BH, 296 points
9. Leah Kirchmann, Optum-Kelly Benefit Strategies, 295 points
10. Jacquelyn Crowell, Exergy Twenty16, 294 points

Optum makes big impression in Portugal

The Optum-Kelly Benefit Strategies men’s team tore through the Volta ao Alentejo in Portugal last week, winning two stages and placing Chad Haga second overall. Jasper Stuyven (Bontrager) won the overall, with Haga second, at 10 seconds. Ken Hanson won a bunch sprint in stage 2 and Tom Zirbel won the stage 4 time trial ahead of teammate Scott Zwizanski.

“We are a bit disappointed that we could not win the overall, but the team sold out for Chad over the final stages to make things happen, and ultimately it was a great week for us,” said manager Jonas Carney. “We won two stages, finished second three times, and delivered Chad to second overall. It’s a confidence booster to ride well against some of the strongest Continental teams in the world, and hats go off to the Bontrager team and Jasper for making this a fun, competitive event.”

The Minnesota-based Optum squad will continue its European campaign with next week’s GP Miguel Indurain, Vuelta a la Rioja, and Klasika Primavera de Amorebieta before the Vuelta a Castilla y Leon stage race April 12-14.

Exergy Twenty16 expands junior program for 2013

The Exergy Twenty16 women’s team has expanded its junior development program for 2013, growing from six riders to 14. The team’s director of junior development, Cari Higgins, will oversee the team this season. The riders, who hale from eight states across the U.S. will have access to bi-weekly conference calls, access to personal mentors, and racing opportunities, according to a team press release. The Exergy Twenty16 women’s team, USA Cycling Centers of Excellence Award, and private contributions fund the development team, and the squad is seeking additional financial support.

“Thank you to our fans and followers for your support. Our vision is extensive,” said Higgins. “Passion, time, and energy have created the program and built the foundation. Donations and funding are necessary for implementation of our junior program.”

Two riders earn Nature Valley Pro Chase spots at Tour de Murrieta

Emily Georgeson (Helen’s) and Ryan Schneider (Bike Religion-Sho-Air) earned places in the Nature Valley composite team for the Nature Valley Grand Prix after strong results in the Tour de Murrieta earlier this month. Georgeson won the women’s time trial and omnium in Murrieta, California, and was second in the road race and criterium. Schneider was 10th overall in the men’s omnium.

The next stop on the Nature Valley Pro Chase is the Independence Valley Road Race in Rochester, Washington, on March 30.

Escondido to host Amgen Tour gala

Escondido, California, will host the team presentation gala for the Amgen Tour of California on May 10 at the California Center for the Arts Concert Hall. According to a press release from the Amgen Tour, the event, Escondido Out Front, “will showcase the best of local entertainment, attractions, and cuisine, and serve to introduce the teams and riders who will race in the eighth annual Amgen Tour of California, which begins in Escondido May 12.”

The event will benefit Amgen’s Breakaway from Cancer initiative.

“The official gala and team presentation has become one of the great traditions of the Amgen Tour of California. It’s not only a special event for the fans that are lucky enough to attend, but it’s also an evening that is memorable for the athletes as well,” said the race’s executive director, Kristin Bachochin. “It’s the first time competitors formally come face to face, as well as meet the race fans, and the riders begin to get amped up for the race ahead. It’s a highlight of the race experience for any cycling fan, not to mention the riders themselves.”

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