JJ Haedo won stage four of the Joe Martin Stage Race, downtown criterium with a steep uphill finish.
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US Continental team equipped for climbs and sprints
Jamis-Hagens Berman is prepared to rise to the challenge at the upcoming UCI 2.HC-rated Amgen Tour of California that will kick off on Sunday in Escondido. Climber Janier Acevedo and sprinter Juan Jose Haedo will lead the eight-man UCI Continental team against a world-class peloton.
In March, AEG announced Jamis-Hagens Berman's invitation to the race alongside four other US Continental teams, three Pro Continental teams and eight ProTeams.
"The Tour of California is the biggest race in America, I believe, and if we are invited to race, we want to be ready," Director Sebastian Alexandre told Cyclingnews. "We have built a team that is capable of winning stages in this type of event and we want to show it."
Alexandre believes that he put together a team that will succeed on the climbs and in the bunch sprints. This year's edition of the race includes decisive climbs in stage 1 on Mt. Palomar, stage 2 at the finish in Palm Springs and stage 7 at the finish on Mt. Diablo.
"We know it's going to be hard racing," Alexandre said. "Very hilly, especially on the first part. When I was deciding the team, I was focused on riders that could climb well."
Acevedo proved capable of leading the team on the climbs after finishing in the top 10 at the Tour de San Luis and recently winning the opening stage at the Tour of the Gila.
Alexandre said that his team is also prepared to handle the flatter stages with its sprinter Juan Jose Haedo, who returned to US racing this year after competing for five years under Bjarne Riis's teams CSC and Saxo Bank. He brings experience sprinting at the WorldTour level and has won a total of five stages in previous editions of the Tour of California.
"Haedo is a rider who has won several stages at this race in the past, a top world sprinter. We will definitely try to take advantage of any field sprints that happen."
The eight-man roster also includes Ben Jacques-Maynes, Luis Amaran, Tyler Wren, Carson Miller, Jamey Driscoll and Guido Palma.
"I'm confident the team will ride strong at this race," Alexandre said. "They will either animate the event by being a part of breakaways or by being represented during key moments of each stage."
Last year, Alexandre's team did not receive invitations to compete at the Tour of California, Tour of Utah or USA Pro Cycling Challenge. He hopes that strong performances next week will prove that his team belongs in other top-level races held in North America.
"This race is the first of other big UCI events here, so we want to take advantage of the opportunity and show that we can race well at this level," Alexandre said. "It's also very important for our sponsors Jamis, Hagens Berman and Sutter Home because we will be racing in front of thousands of people and with great TV coverage."
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