Optum-Kelly Benefit Strategies announced its first major signings for next year’s road racing season on Wednesday. With the addition of three Canadian riders, Guillaume Boivin (Cannondale), Pierrick Naud (Garneau-Québecor), and Mike Woods (5-Hour Energy), Optum is hoping to round out its leadout train and improve GC prospects for 2015.
Boivin is coming off time in the WorldTour with Cannondale, riding as a one-day specialist, sprinter, and workhorse for Peter Sagan.
Naud, another sprinter, finished his season with Garneau-Québecor, winning a stage at the Redlands Bicycle Classic and notching a second overall at the GP Cycliste Saguenay.
Woods is the only pure climber to jump aboard Optum in its recent signings. Racing for 5-Hour Energy this year, Woods finished second in the punishing Mt. Megantic stage at this year’s Tour de Beauce before being selected to race for the Canadian national team at the WorldTour races in Quebec and Montreal. He also raced the 2015 UCI road world championships, where he did not finish.
Speaking of the new additions to the team, Optum director Jonas Carney said, “We are an American team, and it’s important to us that we support American cycling as much as possible. There is so much talent here that is often overlooked, and we have also had incredible success choosing riders only from the U.S. and Canada. These three new recruits should add to that mix perfectly.”