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Rachel Heal will direct the UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Women's Team in 2014.
Five more riders join team leaders Abbott and Powers
The UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team announced five additional elite women who will complete the 12-rider roster of its 2014 women's professional team. Hannah Barnes, Sharon Laws, Katie Hall, Cari Higgins and Jacquelyn Crowell are slated to join an all-star lineup that includes (among others) US Criterium National Champion, Alison Powers; 2013 Giro d'Italia Femminile winner, Mara Abbott; and 2012 US Olympic Silver Medalist, Lauren Tamayo. Also included in that lineup announced back in September are Ruth Winder, Rushlee Buchanan, Coryn Rivera and Alexis Ryan.
The women's team, which is owned by Momentum Sports Group, LLC, will operate under the leadership and tutelage of decorated cycling veteran and team director, Rachel Heal.
"We are pleased to have these five outstanding professionals join our team," said General Manager and Team Director Mike Tamayo. "These additional five women complete a great lineup that we expect to be a force in the sport. When hiring this year's team, I wanted more speed and more climbing strength. Bringing Sharon on gives Mara a lieutenant in the mountains, while Hannah gives us a one-two punch in the sprints with Coryn Rivera. And you can never have enough depth, and Cari, Katie and Jackie just bolster that for us."
Barnes joins the team from MG Maxifuel Pro Cycling. In 2013, Barnes won the elite women's criterium at the seventh edition of the IG London Nocturne. Among her other notable results produced during the 2013 season, Barnes is the national series winner, criterium national champion, 2013 Johnson's Health Tech Tour Series winner, and she took second place in the 2013 Prudential Ride London. The five-time Smithfield winner and 22-time national champion represented England at the 2011 Commonwealth Youth Games where she won the time trial and criterium titles.
Laws is not only a highly decorated professional cyclist, this world-class athlete with a Masters of Science in Conservation spent 13 years as an environmental consultant for a range of organizations including the Department for International Development (British Government), the United Nations Development Programme and Royal Botanic Gardens, among others. In 2008, Laws entered the Australian Road Race Nationals while working in Melbourne, finished second and she never looked back. Laws left her office job and that same year she represented Great Britain in the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games and became the British National Time Trial Champion. Included among the numerous victories, Laws has achieved since 2008 are the 2013 99er Cycle Tour (South Africa), 2013 Herald Cycle Tour (South Africa), the 2012 British National Road Race Championships (UK); and Die Burger (South Africa). She has also landed on the podium in other prestigious races such as the Giro del Trentino (second in stage 2, 2012), the Giro Donne (second in stage 2 in 2011), and the British Road Race National Championships (third in 2011).
Higgins grew up in the suburbs of Atlanta playing all sports. The multi-talented Higgins excelled in everything she competed in, but chose to focus on soccer, earning a scholarship to the University of Alabama where she was a member of the Crimson Tide's women's soccer team. She was equally successful academically. Higgins moved to Colorado to begin a corporate career after college where found cycling and a few years later, put her corporate career on hold to turn pro at 32. A member of the 2012 US Olympic Long Team, Higgins has represented the US at the World Cup, Pan-American and World Championships. She has also finished fifth in the scratch race at the 2012 UCI Track World Championships, sixth in the points race at the 2011 UCI Track World Championships and has 17 National Championships and six Pan-American Championship medals.
Hall joins the 2014 team from Metromint Cycling. The Mercer Island, Washington native was a member of the cycling team at the University of California. She quickly established herself in the sport in 2013 by winning the Mt. Tam HC, Mt. Hood Cycling Classic - Three Summits Road Race, Esparto TT and Patterson Pass Road Race. She also grabbed second in the Vacaville Grand Prix, finished third in the Oakland Grand Prix, and took fourth in the Giro di San Francisco, all in 2013.
Crowell was a standout racer at the University of Florida before turning pro in 2009. Since then, Jackie has also been a member of the US national team, earned a degree in Mechanical Engineering and raced for Exergy TWENTY16 before joining the UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team for the 2014 season. Crowell was the elite points race national champion and the elite team pursuit national champion in 2012. In addition, Crowell has landed on the podium in many key races, too, taking second in the 2012 Nature Valley time trial and third in the 2012 Cascade Cycling Classic prologue.
UnitedHealthcare has been a sponsor of the men's team since 2009 and the title sponsor since 2010.