By VeloNews Interactive
The Health Net Pro Cycling Team, presented by Maxxis, announced on Thursday the signing of former Prime Alliance rider Danny Pate. The announcement came from Gregory Raifman, Chairman & CEO of Momentum Sports Group, LLC, a Piedmont, California, based company that owns and operates the Health Net cycling team.
A resident of Colorado Springs, Pate, 24, has shown great promise as a professional, riding in Europe for Saeco in 2000 and returning to the U.S. to take the No. 2 ranking in the NRC Standings in 2002 while riding for Prime Alliance. To date, Pate is perhaps best known for his win at the 2001 U-23 world time trial championships in Lisbon, Portugal.
Pate’s signing comes as big news to the domestic road circuit, as many rumors had linked him to join his former Prime Alliance teammate Chris Horner at Webcor. But as the rumors of Pate’s former Prime Alliance teammate David Clinger signing with Domina Vacanze became a reality — after Clinger’s initial contract talks with Health Net fell through — the team found an opening and acted quickly to sign Pate, arguably the strongest remaining unsigned rider in the United States.
Pate’s addition bolsters a deep Health Net squad that already boasts of experienced and talented riders such as Scott Moninger, Gord Fraser, Chris Wherry, Mike Sayers, Walker Ferguson, Neal Henderson and John Lieswyn.
“To have a rider of Danny’s caliber is a dream come true for any team director sportif,” said Health Net team director Jeff Corbett. “Danny just adds to an already fully loaded team. Clearly, he is one of the marquee riders in North America, and for him to have the desire join and to fit into our cycling program is inspiring for our riders.”
Pate’s impressive race résumé includes wins at the Tour de Toona in 2002, 2nd in the 2001 U-23 Tour de Flanders, and 3rd in the 2002 USPRO road championships as well as participation in the 1999 and 2003 Tours de L’Avenir. His professional team involvement began with Colorado Cyclist in 1998-1999, Team Seaco in 2000 and more recently, Prime Alliance in 2001-2003.
“I am looking forward to racing in a new environment and to working with and helping my new teammates, which include a group of extremely experienced and successful riders on the one hand and several very talented young riders on the other hand,” Pate said. “This is a strong and dedicated team and I honestly believe that I will be able to reach the next plateau in my riding with the strength of this organization behind me. I hope to begin my season at the Tour of Langkawi in Malaysia in February.”
The team will hold its winter training camp in San Diego in late-January.
When new teammate Sayers heard that Health Net had signed Pate — a fierce adversary of Sayers’s over the past few years on the domestic circuit — he replied, “Danny and I have raced against each other for several years and, frankly, our competition has been very, very intense on the race course. Danny has as much as talent as I’ve seen come along in quite some time. It will be gratifying to finally have Danny on our side. The job of the experienced riders on this team will be to help Jeff Corbett develop Danny and our other talented young riders into proven race winners, not just young strong guys in the peloton.”