Optum-Kelly Benefit Strategies signs Eric Young, Lauren Hall for 2013

Eric Young and Lauren Hall are two of eight new signings for Optum-Kelly Benefit Strategies going into 2013

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Optum-Kelly Benefit Strategies has announced the addition of eight new riders to its 2013 men’s and women’s team rosters. The U.S. Continental squad, which won the women’s overall team title and finished second in the men’s classification in the National Racing Calendar in 2012, recently signed on as the only third division U.S. team with the Movement for Credible Cycling.

The women’s team, which also topped the individual NRC standings with the now-departed Carmen Small, gains four new riders, including 2012 national scratch race and individual pursuit champion Lauren Hall, who joins from Tibco-To the Top as a sprint specialist.

“Lauren Hall is an experienced and versatile road racer,” said Optum women’s team performance director Rachel Heal, “and we have some great up-and-coming talent joining the ranks.”

In addition to Hall, who also won the 2011 national Madison championship, the women’s team gains Grace Alexander, silver medalist at junior cross-country nationals in 2011; Amber Gaffney, bronze medalist in the national team pursuit championship in September; and 28-year-old Brianna Walle, whose Optum signing marks her debut with a professional team.

On the men’s side, 2011 national criterium champion Eric Young joins from Bissell to supplement the field-sprint efforts of 2012 national crit champion Ken Hanson. Much of the men’s team’s core remains intact, with Jesse Anthony, Alex Candelario, Mike Creed, Mike Friedman, Tom Zirbel and Scott Zwizanski returning in 2013.

“The addition of Eric Young means we have the last two national criterium champions, and this will make our team even more dangerous in field sprints,” said performance director Jonas Carney. “Hanson did a fantastic job this year, but we cannot expect him to attend every race and be on form for nine months straight. Eric is going to give us depth in that position.”

Additionally, Bjorn Selander, who rode through an injury-plagued 2012 with Spidertech-C10, joins the men’s team as a stage race contender. Elite cyclocross racers Mitchell Hoke and Jeremy Durrin make up the team’s final men’s signings for 2013.

Optum-Kelly Benefit Strategies 2013 men’s roster
Jesse Anthony (USA)
Alex Candelario (USA)
Marsh Cooper (CAN)
Mike Creed (USA)
Jeremy Durrin (USA)
Mike Friedman (USA)
Chad Haga (USA)
Ken Hanson (USA)
Mitchell Hoke (USA)
Ian Moir (USA)
Sebastian Salas (CAN)
Bjorn Selander (USA)
Mike Sherer (USA)
Tom Soladay (USA)
Eric Young (USA)
Tom Zirbel (USA)
Scott Zwizanski (USA)

Optum-Kelly Benefit Strategies 2013 women’s roster
Grace Alexander (USA)
Annie Ewart (CAN)
Amber Gaffney (USA)
Lauren Hall (USA)
Janel Holcomb (USA)
Leah Kirchmann (CAN)
Courteney Lowe (NZL)
Joelle Numainville (CAN)
Denise Ramsden (CAN)
Brianna Walle (USA)
Jade Wilcoxson (USA)

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