UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team scored their best result of their European season to date in 2012, with Rory Sutherland finishing runner up to Diego Ulissi (Lampre – ISD) on Stage 3 of the Settimana Internazionale Coppi e Bartali.
While the ProContinental outfit has had good success to date in 2012 with multiple podium finishes at the Tour de San Luis, Le Tour de Langakawi, South Africa Nationals and the OCBC Cycle Singapore Pro Criterium, early season racing in Europe hasn't been as kind. Although Boy van Poppel placed third in Nokere-Koerse last week in Belgium, the team has experienced a short run of bad luck in Europe.
With Sutherland's result and a little over a month remaining in their European campaign before returning to the United States, UnitedHealthcare will be hoping that this is the start of a reversal of fortunes.
Team Director, Hendrik Redant said that while it was a relatively short stage at 151km, it was still challenging.
"Our goal for today was to get in the break on this hard circuit. Right from the start we saw lots of attacks from several teams several times, but our guys covered them.
"Further into the finale, our guys really worked well together and kept Rory in the front of the bunch and in good position for what was a tricky, dangerous and uphill finish. But the uphill finish is something well suited for Rory. He had to fight for his position and did a great job getting on the podium."
2011 Settimana Internazionale Coppi e Bartali winner Emanuele Sella (Androni Giocattoli) was part of the day's early break, which also included Dmitriy Fofonov (Astana) and Marco Frapporti (Team Idea). The trio were on the attack for more than 100km but were swept up with 19km remaining on the taxing finishing circuit in Levizzano, an 11km loop covered five times at the stage conclusion.
Sutherland is now 42 seconds back on general classification leader, Cesare Benedetti (Team NetApp) with two stages remaining. The Australian, US-based rider praised the work of his teammates and remained optimistic for the upcoming challenges.
"The boys rode well today as a team. They helped me with positioning coming into the finale, covering attacks, and more. Of course it would have been great to take first, but it's nice to hit the podium here at Coppi e Bartali, especially after the hard work the boys put in today.
"It has been a rough start to the year in Europe, but hopefully this will spur us on to better things," he continued. "This is a solid group of guys and you can't beat having teammates who look after each other the way this group of guys does."