In a week full of hard-scrabble racing that saw only two stage winners from the WorldTour teams, UnitedHealthcare couldn't seem to catch a break at the Tour of Utah. Coming into the tour, the US Pro Continental team had high hopes. Marco Canola was aiming for wins in the sprints, Tanner Putt was likely looking to see if he could succeed in a break, and both Janez Brajkovic and Jonny Clarke were looking to compete for the GC.
Unfortunately, the trouble started early. Canola's lead out train got interrupted on stage 1, relegating him to a 12th place finish on a day suited for sprinters. Brajkovic punctured while climbing Mt. Nebo on stage 3, losing several minutes to the leaders, effectively putting the GC out of his reach. And on stage 7, Daniel Eaton flatted early, preventing him from not only having a chance at getting in the break, but also at trying to win the KOM jersey back from Adrien Costa, who had a two point lead at the start of the day.
When Cyclingnews caught up with team director Mike Tamayo after stage 7, he confirmed the plan going into the day was to try and put Eaton in a position to compete for the KOM jersey.
"We were trying to get Daniel Eaton in the breakaway, because then he could get some points at the KOM up Wolf Creek," Tamayo said. But, given Eaton's early flat and the pace the peloton was setting, he had no chance at getting into the break and competing for the KOM.
Tamayo acknowledged that even if things had gone their way and Eaton had made the break, it wouldn't have mattered much. "It was going come down to if Costa had an amazing KOM, which he did. So no matter what he was going to take the KOM today."
And while Tamayo acknowledged the difficulties UHC faced this tour, including the crashes of Bajkovoc and fellow GC rider Clarke, he also was quick to draw attention to the successes the team accomplished this past week.
Jaramillo took the KOM jersey twice, after stages 1 and 5, and Matthew Busche was named the most aggressive rider after stages 4 and 5. So while Tamayo and UHC didn't always get the breaks they were hoping for, the team still was able to find the podium several times.
"We were on the podium, I believe, three or four times. So I'm happy about that."
When asked about how he thought the tour went as a whole, Tamayo said, "It's a great race, great tour, we just had bad luck."
Undoubtedly, UHC will look to turn their luck around at the Tour of Alberta, and with Tamayo stepping into his new full-time management role, the change in leadership may provide the good luck that seemed to evade the team in Utah.
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