North American Wrap: Axeon wins in Portugal

Haga Lone US finisher in Milan-San Remo; SmartStop competes in Taiwan

US Continental teams found success last weekend in Portugal, with Axeon Cycling's Portuguese newcomer Ruben Guerreiro winning stage 2 and the overall at the Troféu do Sudoeste e Costa Vicentina, while Optum Pro Cycling's Brad Huff won the field sprint for third place on the opening stage.

The two-day UCI 2.2 race in Portugal featured two stages over Saturday and Sunday, with the first being a 218 km stage from Sines to Vila do Bispo. A breakaway by two ActiveJet riders narrowly survived to the finish of stage 1 after escaping over the final climb of the day. The pair had just enough of an advantage to stay in front of the charging field, which was led home by Huff, who finished with the same time as the leaders.

The following day saw Guerreiro win ahead of USA Cycling U23 national team rider Colin Joyce and Axeon's James Oram. The trio was joined by Rietumu-Delfin rider Krists Neilands in a group that finished four seconds ahead of one other rider and seven seconds ahead of a chase group of 10.

Time bonuses boosted Guerreiro into the overall lead, followed by ActiveJet's Pawel Bernas and Joyce. Oram was fourth overall. Guerreiro, 20, also took home the race's jersey for best young rider, while Axeon took the team classification.

Haga lone North American finisher in Milan-San Remo

Giant-Alpecin's Chad Haga finished his first Monument during Milan-San Remo on Sunday and was the only North American rider to finish the race. Haga came in 152nd, nearly 15 minutes down, after crashing twice on the way to Via Roma. His teammate, John Degenkolb, took home the win.

Haga was one of the three North American riders to start La Primavera. Canadian Dominique Rollin (Cofidis) and US rider Ben King (Cannondale-Garmin) were on the start line in Milan but did not finish. King crashed en route to San Remo.

Haga was a last-minute replacement for teammate Simon Geschke, who broke his collarbone at Tirreno-Adriatico.

“I knew I was a reserve rider anyways, but I had kind of forgotten about it until Simon broke his collarbone and I realised that I might be going there,” Haga told Cyclingnews before the race. “They asked me what I thought about it and decided whether they wanted to pick me or another reserve rider. But they ended up going with me.”

The 293km race was Haga's longest. His previous longest day before Sunday was 219km at the 2014 Classica San Sebastian. Haga, who finished his first Grand Tour last year at the Vuelta a Espana, is now focused on making the team's roster for the Giro d'Italia.

Team SmartStop competing in Taiwan

While part of the team is at a second spring training camp in Nevada City, Team SmartStop has sent five riders to the Tour of Taiwan, a five-day UCI 2.1 race from March 22-26. Zach Bell, Rob Britton, Jure Kocjan, Julian Kyer and US national champion Eric Marcotte took the start line for Sunday's opening stage, a 54km circuit race in Taipei City.

“We are going for stage wins and hopefully a sniff at the general classification,” said team director Mike Creed. “Five-man rosters will make the race exciting, but hopefully exciting in a way that is advantageous for us.”

Crashes and wet weather hampered the team's performance during stage 2, but Kocjan made it into the top 10 with a sixth-place finish during Tuesday's 147km stage in Changhua County.

Three men's teams confirmed for Philly Classic

The Philadelphia International Cycling Classic announced on Tuesday the 17 teams that will contest the women's World Cup race on June 7, and organisers also confirmed three of the men's teams that will compete on the same day.

UnitedHealthcare, including 2013 and 2014 champion Kiel Reijnen, will join Team Novo Nordisk and Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies on the start line. A complete list of confirmed men’s teams will be announced shortly.

The men’s race begins the day's competition at the top of the Manayunk Wall at 8 a.m. The men will race a grueling nine laps for 176km, battling for KOM points on Lemon Hill and the Manayunk Wall with a sprint zone along Kelly Drive.

In addition to the pro races, the weekend will feature various community events. A few of the events include an amateur ride on the pro course, an expo in Roxborough and community festivities in Manayunk, Roxborough, East Falls and on Lemon Hill.

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