With no ProTeams in the mix, UnitedHealthcare rolls into Philly heavily favored

Fewer big-name riders and a shorter course hasn't sapped UnitedHealthcare's determination to put a rider atop the podium in Philly

PHILADELPHIA (VN) — UnitedHealthcare rolls into this Sunday’s TD Bank International Cycling Championship in Philadelphia heavily favored to both spring a winner and control the flow of the race. The team has more than one rider who can win here.

That said, they aren’t set on nailing back every break alone. “We are the best team at this race,” said Mike Tamayo, the team’s director. “The responsibility is not just on our shoulders … if every team just looks at one, it turns into a bit of a negative race.”

That type of race is exactly what race organizers are hoping to avoid. They’ve shorn up the course length and have made note that, without the world’s major teams, there probably won’t be much in the way of waiting for moves or covering each one – perhaps that’s the only upside to missing out on the ProTeams.

The UnitedHealthcare team is deep. Jake Keough (USA), Robert Förster (GER), Davide Frattini (ITA), Adrian Hegyvary (USA), Jeff Louder (USA), Karl Menzies (AUS), Jay Thomson (RSA), and Rory Sutherland (AUS) will take the start here Sunday morning.
Förster finished third in last year’s 156-mile race and Keough is also a threat for the podium.

The field in Philly isn’t what it has been in year’s past — that’s clear from the start list — but the riders here don’t seem too affected by that.

“For me, growing up on the East coast, it’s always been a goal,” Keough said. “It’s always been a goal for the team. It’s a little disappointing that some of the top teams aren’t here. We prefer the highest level of competition … [but] winning down the straightway on that oval — it’s always a priority.”

This year’s race is a bit of an unknown. The course has remained virtually the same, with the Manayunk Wall still featured (seven times this year instead of 10) and a few more finishing circuits over Lemon Hill. But the distance has dropped from 251 kilometers to 199.6km. The effects should be seen on Sunday: It’s easy to make a case that the shorter route will result in a more controlled field sprint at the wire, or that the right mélange of riders in a break could make the day. No one knows.

Tamayo wasn’t sure how the cards would fall on the abridged course, but knows one thing for sure. “Philly’s always been known to be a strong man race,” he said.

Germany’s Förster is hoping to move up to the top of the podium. “Last year, it was close. I was not so far from the victory. We’re back with a strong team this year, and we want to win,” he said. “Every rider with us has a job in the race,” he said. “Everybody knows what they have to do.”