Powers, Abbott part of strong lineup on UnitedHealthcare women’s team

UnitedHealthcare names the first seven riders that will make up its women's team for the 2014 season

Photo: Casey B. Gibson

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The UnitedHealthcare deck is stacked.

Momentum Sports Group, which owns and operates the UnitedHealthcare team, announced on Friday seven riders set to join its professional women’s team. The team was first announced in July, and the roster will soon grow. But for now, the team is already remarkably strong.

Signees include Alison Powers, the current U.S. national criterium champ, 2012 Olympic silver medalist in the women’s pursuit Lauren Tamayo, and Mara Abbott, the 2010 and 2013 Giro d’Italia Femminile champion.

“We are excited about the addition of our women’s program and looking forward to the 2014 season. We are pleased to announce the signing of several outstanding professional athletes,” said general manager and team director Mike Tamayo in a press release.

Tamayo also runs the UHC men’s team. “We anticipate and expect the same drive for excellence from our women’s team that has been established by our men’s team and the riders we are bringing on board will be instrumental in delivering similar results,” he added. “When hiring for the team, I focused on who is the best in their respective discipline — sprinting, climbing or TT. Then, we went after that talent.”

And the team has that in spades. Abbott has made a tremendous resurgence, proving herself to be one of the best climbers in the women’s peloton, capable of beating anyone on a hilly course. Powers is remarkably consistent.

In 2013 alone, Powers, 33, won the Redlands Bicycle Classic, took third at the Tour of Elk Grove, the U.S. National Road Championship, and the U.S. National Time Trial Championship, and won stages at the Cascade Classic, Tulsa Tough, SRAM Tour of the Gila, and the Redlands Bicycle Classic.

Abbott is a two-time national road race champion (2007, 2010), and also won the San Dimas Stage Race this year, in addition to the women’s Giro. She’s won the Gila tour twice.

In addition to Abbott, Tamayo, and Powers, UnitedHealthcare announced that Ruth Winder, Rushlee Buchanan, Coryn Rivera, and Alexis Ryan will ride for the team as well.

Winder was named the best young rider at the 2013 Parx Casino Philly Cycling Classic with a 15th-place finish. Winder, 20, has won several national track titles.

Buchanan is the 2010 New Zealand national road race champion and also a bronze medalist in team pursuit. The 25-year-old was runner-up at the Fitchburg Longsjo Classic (2010), a stage winner at the Cascade Classic (2011), and a three-time stage winner during the 2010 USA Crits Speed Week.

Rivera, a sprinter, has amassed 47 national titles in three disciplines: road, track, and cyclocross. Titles include collegiate road national champion in the team omnium (2012), Under-23 criterium national champion (2011), bronze medalist at the UCI Junior Road World Championship (2010), and bronze medalist at the UCI Junior Track Omnium World Championship (2010).

Ryan, 19, is the U-23 national criterium champion and was a junior national cyclocross champion (2008, 2010), junior national criterium champion (2011, 2012), junior national road champion (2011, 2012), and junior national team pursuit champion (2012).

“We are proud to bring this group of elite athletes into the UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team family,” said Thierry Attias, president of Momentum Sports Group. “In addition to their accomplishments on the bike, we are looking forward to having the members of our women’s team represent the UnitedHealthcare brand as ambassadors of healthy living in the many community events we do throughout the country.”

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