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U.S. champ Busche upbeat for season with UnitedHealthcare

Matthew Busche spent six seasons in the WorldTour and is now riding at the Pro Continental level. He hopes to return to the top rung.

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AL ZUBARAH, Qatar (VN) — American Matthew Busche is moving on with UnitedHealthcare this season after what he terms a “surprise” cut from WorldTour team Trek – Segafredo after six seasons.

Busche went from riding at the Continental level in 2009 to the WorldTour a year later after signing with Radioshack. He raced in the Vuelta a Espana twice and the Tour de France once, and last year he won the road race title at the U.S. championships. However, Trek passed on renewing his contract for 2016.

“It came a little bit as a surprise [that I wasn’t renewed],” Busche told VeloNews while spraying on some sunblock ahead the Tour of Qatar’s fourth stage.

“It’s neither here nor there now. It is what it is, I can’t change it. I’m moving on and focusing on what I can control, which is here and the future.”

Busche had a roller coaster 2015. He broke his wrist in the first race of the year and struggled to return to his best, which he did for the national championship. He fell hard in the Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah and at the same time wondered what was happening with his contract renewal. Trek beefed up its squad by signing riders like Canadian Ryder Hesjedal, but Busche heard very little before being told a deal was not happening. He signed with UnitedHealthcare in September.

The 30-year-old remains upbeat despite being at the Pro Continental level, a step down from the WorldTour. He’ll race the Tour of Oman next week and also has the big American stage races on his calendar.

“That time with Trek definitely changed me, but this team is good and sometimes change is good. I’m looking forward to this. I should definitely have more individual opportunities in this team and I’m going to try to seize that as best as possible,” Busche said as he reached for his stars and stripes jersey.

“Obviously, this race in Qatar is not my cup of tea, but already in Oman I should be protected, and obviously in the U.S. at the stage races. I’ll take the opportunities that are given to me. I can set some clear goals for myself. Clearly for our team, the Tour of California, Tour of Utah, and [the USA Pro Challenge] are the big races. I’ll try to perform in the lead-up races as well. Any race is an opportunity.”

After Busche finishes the final stage through the Qatari countryside Friday, he will travel to Muscat with the team for the Tour of Oman, with Janez Brajkovic serving as the squad’s co-leader. From there, his program will include races that set him up for the Amgen Tour of California in May.

Those races could set Busche up for a future contract because he’s not giving up on riding for a top WorldTour team in the future.

“I’ll keep doing everything I can to get back, but at the same time, I’m not going to focus on it because if you focus on that it just takes away from everything else,” Busche added. “I can only control what I can control, and that’s me. Hopefully by doing so, by working on my performances, that will hopefully come, that I’ll get back in the WorldTour.”

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