UnitedHealthcare will make its Professional Continental debut at Le Tour de Langkawi at the beginning of next year. The team will feature its sprinters, including newcomer Robert Förster.
"Le Tour de Langkawi always holds an excellent event that sets the tone for the start of the season,” said team director Mike Tamayo. “Team UnitedHealthcare is hoping to use it as an opportunity to debut our international season.”
The US-based team, which has been around under various names since 2003, was Continental ranked until 2011. In addition to Langkawi, it is planning to participate in various European races in the new season.
Among its new riders who will feature in Malaysia is Förster. At 33, he will be making his first appearance in a non-German team, having ridden with Team Nürnberger (2001-2002). Team Gerolsteiner (2003-2008) and Team Milram (2009-2010).
The sprinter has won a stage in the Vuelta a Espana (2006) and three stages in the Giro d'Italia, including the closing stage in Milan in 2006 and two stages in 2007. He also has extensive experience in the Tour de France.
He will not be the only sprinter on the team, however. “We are bringing a fast team with Robert Förster, Boy Van Poppel, Hilton Clarke and Karl Menzies”, said Tamayo. “Our climbers for the two GC deciding days are Chris Jones and Max Jenkins. With so many opportunities for bunch sprints, we aligned our roster selection in a way to pursue stages.”
US teams have a long history at the race, with the first American stage wins going back to 1997. Americans Chris Horner and Tom Danielson have won the overall title.
"We have a long tradition of American teams taking part in our event”, said the CEO of Le Tour de Langkawi Mohamed Salleh. “This is part of Malaysian hospitality. We want cyclists from all over the world to attend. Once again all the continents will be represented at LTdL in 2011.”
UnitedHealthcare team for Le Tour de Langkawi: Hilton Clarke (Aus), Robert Förster (Ger), Max Jenkins (USA), Chris Jones (USA), Karl Menzies (Aus), Boy Van Poppel (Ned)