Optum-Kelly Benefit Strategies announced the signings of two prominent riders on Tuesday: Danny Pate and Rob Britton. The team expects these new additions will bolster its squad for the major American stage races — Amgen Tour of California, Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah, and the USA Pro Challenge.
“We have riders who are very capable of getting results at those events, but they have not always had the help they need when going up against the biggest teams in the world,” said performance directory Jonas Carney of the three one-week stage races. “We know Danny and Rob can get results at events of that caliber, but they are also great teammates and tacticians. More importantly, they are two of the friendliest, hardest-working guys I know, and will add to the culture of our team tremendously.”
Pate, 36, is returning to domestic racing after riding in Europe since 2008, first for Garmin, then HTC, and finally Team Sky. “He hasn’t had many chances to get a result for himself, so he’s flown under the radar a bit,” Carney said of Pate, the 2001 under-23 world time trial champion. “He is very well-rounded and capable of big results if he puts his mind to it. He can climb, time trial, and handles his bike as well as most field sprinters. Danny is a serious GC threat for us, but will also play a major role in helping a someone like Eric Young, Ryan Anderson, or Britton win a big race.”
For his part, Britton looks to be on pace to challenge for a GC win in the coming seasons. The 31-year-old finished third overall at the USA Pro Challenge, riding for SmartStop, a Continental team. “2015 was an incredible year, and I’m honestly still processing what was accomplished,” he said. Britton also won the 2015 Tour of the Gila. “That being said, the baseline has changed now. Colorado changed everything, as it showed me I can compete against some of the best time trialists around. I honestly haven’t sat down and penned out goals for ’16, but I promise it will be big. There’s a bike race in Rio that I’d like to attend.”