Making its USA Pro Cycling Challenge debut, the US-based UCI Continental squad Team Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies was quick to stamp its name on the Colorado stage race's opening day on Monday, a taxing 202.1km from Durango to Telluride.
The team figured strongly in Monday's sprint finale in Telluride and also claimed the team classification for the opening stage. Additionally, Andrew Bajadali was prominent in the 22-man break which nearly rode away with the stage.
Prior to the start of the USA Pro Cycling's second stage, Cyclingnews spoke with Team Optum's Mike Friedman in Montrose. Friedman was a key lead-out rider the previous day in Telluride for the team's sprinter Alex Candelario and Friedman spoke of the demanding tempo throughout the day as well as the hectic final kilometre of a sprint ultimately claimed by Garmin-Sharp's Tyler Farrar.
Friedman surprised himself with his own performance on a stage which crested Lizard Head Pass, the category 2 ascent topping out at 10,222 feet with 25km remaining and expressed the team's mission of being aggressive each and every day in Colorado.