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Gallery: Optum Pro Cycling's spring European campaign

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Tom Soladay and Mike Friedman share a moment after the extremely tough opening stage at the Vuelta a Castilla y Leon

Tom Soladay and Mike Friedman share a moment after the extremely tough opening stage at the Vuelta a Castilla y Leon
(Image credit: Sam Wiebe)
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This interesting fellow was present at all three stages of the Vuelta a Castilla y Leon

This interesting fellow was present at all three stages of the Vuelta a Castilla y Leon
(Image credit: Sam Wiebe)
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The reason sponsorship exists - eager young fans appraise the logos on the back of the team van

The reason sponsorship exists - eager young fans appraise the logos on the back of the team van
(Image credit: Sam Wiebe)
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Marsh Cooper pedals through a corner in one of the many villages the Vuelta a Castilla y Leon ran through

Marsh Cooper pedals through a corner in one of the many villages the Vuelta a Castilla y Leon ran through
(Image credit: Sam Wiebe)
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Tom Soladay near the front as the peloton navigates an extremely narrow corridor in stage 2 at the Vuelta a Castilla y Leon

Tom Soladay near the front as the peloton navigates an extremely narrow corridor in stage 2 at the Vuelta a Castilla y Leon
(Image credit: Sam Wiebe)
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Ken Hanson and Alex Candelario make last minute preparations prior to the Vuelta a Castilla y Leon's second stage

Ken Hanson and Alex Candelario make last minute preparations prior to the Vuelta a Castilla y Leon's second stage
(Image credit: Sam Wiebe)
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The team waves to the crowd at the stage 2 sign-in at the Vuelta a Castilla y Leon

The team waves to the crowd at the stage 2 sign-in at the Vuelta a Castilla y Leon
(Image credit: Sam Wiebe)
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Mike Friedman stretches out in the early morning light

Mike Friedman stretches out in the early morning light
(Image credit: Sam Wiebe)
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The faces of Alex Candelario, Marsh Cooper, and Ken Hanson say it all after stage 1 at the Vuelta a Castilla y Leon

The faces of Alex Candelario, Marsh Cooper, and Ken Hanson say it all after stage 1 at the Vuelta a Castilla y Leon
(Image credit: Sam Wiebe)
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Euskaltel's Pablo Urtasun speeds to victory in the tough uphill sprint during stage 1 at the Vuelta a Castilla y Leon

Euskaltel's Pablo Urtasun speeds to victory in the tough uphill sprint during stage 1 at the Vuelta a Castilla y Leon
(Image credit: Sam Wiebe)
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A local vendor cuts fresh ham at the finish line of stage 1 at the Vuelta a Castilla y Leon

A local vendor cuts fresh ham at the finish line of stage 1 at the Vuelta a Castilla y Leon
(Image credit: Sam Wiebe)
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Scenes such as this are commonplace in the Spanish countryside

Scenes such as this are commonplace in the Spanish countryside
(Image credit: Sam Wiebe)
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This Spanish shepherd is not messing around

This Spanish shepherd is not messing around
(Image credit: Sam Wiebe)
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Eric Wohlberg enjoys a laugh with a local fan

Eric Wohlberg enjoys a laugh with a local fan
(Image credit: Sam Wiebe)
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Tom Soladay signs autographs for a legion of Spanish youth at the Vuelta a Castilla y Leon

Tom Soladay signs autographs for a legion of Spanish youth at the Vuelta a Castilla y Leon
(Image credit: Sam Wiebe)
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Ken Hanson was inches from a win against some of the world's best in stage 2 at the Vuelta a Castilla y Leon

Ken Hanson was inches from a win against some of the world's best in stage 2 at the Vuelta a Castilla y Leon
(Image credit: Sam Wiebe)
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Eric Young was devastated after the near-miss of a stage win in the field sprint

Eric Young was devastated after the near-miss of a stage win in the field sprint
(Image credit: Sam Wiebe)
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Tom Soladay hammers up the third categorized climb of the day, high in the mountains during the Vuelta a Castilla y Leon's final stage

Tom Soladay hammers up the third categorized climb of the day, high in the mountains during the Vuelta a Castilla y Leon's final stage
(Image credit: Sam Wiebe)
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Eric Young gets a push after an early race flat.

Eric Young gets a push after an early race flat.
(Image credit: Sam Wiebe)
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A bottle hand-off is one of the staples of professional cycling

A bottle hand-off is one of the staples of professional cycling
(Image credit: Sam Wiebe)
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Eric Young tows Sebastian Salas back through the caravan.

Eric Young tows Sebastian Salas back through the caravan.
(Image credit: Sam Wiebe)
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The lead-out train of Alex Candelario, Mike Friedman, and Eric Young poses for a shot at the start line for the final stage of the Vuelta a Castilla y Leon

The lead-out train of Alex Candelario, Mike Friedman, and Eric Young poses for a shot at the start line for the final stage of the Vuelta a Castilla y Leon
(Image credit: Sam Wiebe)
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Jesse Anthony checks his bike at the start of stage 3 at the Vuelta a Castilla y Leon

Jesse Anthony checks his bike at the start of stage 3 at the Vuelta a Castilla y Leon
(Image credit: Sam Wiebe)
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Guest mechanic Esteban Pena hauls luggage into the team van during the Vuelta a Castilla y Leon

Guest mechanic Esteban Pena hauls luggage into the team van during the Vuelta a Castilla y Leon
(Image credit: Sam Wiebe)
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Mike Friedman gets his SpiderTech tape applied pre-race

Mike Friedman gets his SpiderTech tape applied pre-race
(Image credit: Sam Wiebe)
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The team enjoys a dinner at one of Spain's many beautiful hotels

The team enjoys a dinner at one of Spain's many beautiful hotels
(Image credit: Sam Wiebe)
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Guest mechanic Esteban Pena rinses off an Orca after a Vuelta a Castilla y Leon stage

Guest mechanic Esteban Pena rinses off an Orca after a Vuelta a Castilla y Leon stage
(Image credit: Sam Wiebe)
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Alex Candelario shows off his crooked collarbone

Alex Candelario shows off his crooked collarbone
(Image credit: Sam Wiebe)
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Guest Soigneur Pablo de Pedro was a great addition to the team in Spain

Guest Soigneur Pablo de Pedro was a great addition to the team in Spain
(Image credit: Sam Wiebe)
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Mike Friedman gets contorted by Bob Gregorio before a Vuelta a Castilla y Leon stage

Mike Friedman gets contorted by Bob Gregorio before a Vuelta a Castilla y Leon stage
(Image credit: Sam Wiebe)
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A family of fans gather on their balcony to watch the Klasika Primavera de Amorebieta peloton

A family of fans gather on their balcony to watch the Klasika Primavera de Amorebieta peloton
(Image credit: Sam Wiebe)
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The peloton rolls through the vibrant Spanish countryside

The peloton rolls through the vibrant Spanish countryside
(Image credit: Sam Wiebe)
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Fans intently watch the proceedings at the Klasika Primavera de Amorebieta sign-in stage

Fans intently watch the proceedings at the Klasika Primavera de Amorebieta sign-in stage
(Image credit: Sam Wiebe)
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Jesse Anthony wearing his typically intense expression at the Klasika Primavera de Amorebieta start line

Jesse Anthony wearing his typically intense expression at the Klasika Primavera de Amorebieta start line
(Image credit: Sam Wiebe)
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Guest soigneur Pablo de Pedro warms up the athlete's legs with some embrocation before the race

Guest soigneur Pablo de Pedro warms up the athlete's legs with some embrocation before the race
(Image credit: Sam Wiebe)
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Sebastian Salas is all smiles before going head-to-head against some of the world's best at the Klasika Primavera de Amorebieta

Sebastian Salas is all smiles before going head-to-head against some of the world's best at the Klasika Primavera de Amorebieta
(Image credit: Sam Wiebe)
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Mike Friedman kits up outside the team car for the Klasika Primavera de Amorebieta

Mike Friedman kits up outside the team car for the Klasika Primavera de Amorebieta
(Image credit: Sam Wiebe)
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Amanda Shission applies prosciutto to the team sandwiches

Amanda Shission applies prosciutto to the team sandwiches
(Image credit: Sam Wiebe)
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Bob Gregorio speedily cleans a wheel in the team house driveway

Bob Gregorio speedily cleans a wheel in the team house driveway
(Image credit: Sam Wiebe)
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Eric Wohlberg and Bob Gregorio discuss strategy in the team's impromptu service course

Eric Wohlberg and Bob Gregorio discuss strategy in the team's impromptu service course
(Image credit: Sam Wiebe)
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Soigneur Amanda Shission makes a significant amount of rice cakes

Soigneur Amanda Shission makes a significant amount of rice cakes
(Image credit: Sam Wiebe)
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Alex Candelario goes into a tuck, speedily descending a steep grade at the Vuelta de Castilla y Leon

Alex Candelario goes into a tuck, speedily descending a steep grade at the Vuelta de Castilla y Leon
(Image credit: Sam Wiebe)
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A lone fan finds a unique vantage point on the course at the Vuelta de Castilla y Leon

A lone fan finds a unique vantage point on the course at the Vuelta de Castilla y Leon
(Image credit: Sam Wiebe)
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A young fan proudly waves the Euskadi flag

A young fan proudly waves the Euskadi flag
(Image credit: Sam Wiebe)
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Eric Wohlberg keeps his logistical tools close in the team car during the Klasika Primavera de Amorebieta

Eric Wohlberg keeps his logistical tools close in the team car during the Klasika Primavera de Amorebieta
(Image credit: Sam Wiebe)
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Guest Soigneur Pablo de Pedro stretches out a rider before a stage of the Vuelta a Castilla y Leon

Guest Soigneur Pablo de Pedro stretches out a rider before a stage of the Vuelta a Castilla y Leon
(Image credit: Sam Wiebe)
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The Spanish youth were cute, friendly, and polite

The Spanish youth were cute, friendly, and polite
(Image credit: Sam Wiebe)
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Movistar's Rui Costa celebrates his win at the Klasika Primavera de Amorebieta - note the premature elation from a Euskaltel-Euskadi rider in the background

Movistar's Rui Costa celebrates his win at the Klasika Primavera de Amorebieta - note the premature elation from a Euskaltel-Euskadi rider in the background
(Image credit: Sam Wiebe)
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Peace from a local cycling reporter as fans eagerly await the Klasika Primavera de Amorebieta finish

Peace from a local cycling reporter as fans eagerly await the Klasika Primavera de Amorebieta finish
(Image credit: Sam Wiebe)
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The atmosphere at the finish line is always loose and fun - some young fans enjoy an impromptu soccer match

The atmosphere at the finish line is always loose and fun - some young fans enjoy an impromptu soccer match
(Image credit: Sam Wiebe)
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Ken Hanson leans into a corner on a speedy descent in the Klasika Primavera de Amorebieta

Ken Hanson leans into a corner on a speedy descent in the Klasika Primavera de Amorebieta
(Image credit: Sam Wiebe)
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Alberto Contador rolls through a KOM at the Klasika Primavera de Amorebieta while adjusting his arm warmers

Alberto Contador rolls through a KOM at the Klasika Primavera de Amorebieta while adjusting his arm warmers
(Image credit: Sam Wiebe)
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A mix of classic and modern is typical in the Basque region as fans await the Klasika Primavera de Amorebieta peloton

A mix of classic and modern is typical in the Basque region as fans await the Klasika Primavera de Amorebieta peloton
(Image credit: Sam Wiebe)
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The category 2 KOM climb was steep and packed with fans at the Klasika Primavera de Amorebieta

The category 2 KOM climb was steep and packed with fans at the Klasika Primavera de Amorebieta
(Image credit: Sam Wiebe)
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An entire family of Caja Rural supporters at the Klasika Primavera de Amorebieta

An entire family of Caja Rural supporters at the Klasika Primavera de Amorebieta
(Image credit: Sam Wiebe)
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A focused Tom Soladay grabs a bottle from the team car during the Klasika Primavera de Amorebieta

A focused Tom Soladay grabs a bottle from the team car during the Klasika Primavera de Amorebieta
(Image credit: Sam Wiebe)
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Always a stressful part of the sport - mid-race bike adjustments at speeds exceeding 30mph

Always a stressful part of the sport - mid-race bike adjustments at speeds exceeding 30mph
(Image credit: Sam Wiebe)
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The Basque fans are plentiful and truly love the sport

The Basque fans are plentiful and truly love the sport
(Image credit: Sam Wiebe)
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From lush green valleys to snowy mountains, Spain has it all

From lush green valleys to snowy mountains, Spain has it all
(Image credit: Sam Wiebe)
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Riders descend a tight switchback in the mountains at the Vuelta de Castilla y Leon

Riders descend a tight switchback in the mountains at the Vuelta de Castilla y Leon
(Image credit: Sam Wiebe)

Optum Pro Cycling p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies, a US-based Continental squad, spent four weeks racing in Europe from the latter portion of March through mid-April and made its mark at both the one-day and stage race events contested in Portugal and Spain.

The team opened their European campaign in Portugal with the one-day Classica Aviero-Fatima, won by Optum's Ken Hanson, followed by the five-day Volta ao Alentejo highlighted by Chad Haga's second place general classification result plus Tom Zirbel and Scott Zwizanski's 1-2 finish on stage 4.

The rest of the team's racing took place in Spain, beginning with a pair of UCI 1.1-ranked one-day races: the Gran Premio Miguel Indurain (March 30), where the team's Jesse Anthony claimed the Special Sprinter's Prize, followed by the Vuelta Ciclista a La Rioja (March 31), where Ken Hanson finished on the podium with a third place result.

The gallery presented here is from the remainder of the team's stint in Spain in which they contested the 1.1-rated one-day Basque event, the Klasika Primavera de Amorebieta (April 7), and wrapped up their European trip at the 2.1-rated Vuelta a Castilla y Leon stage race (April 12-14).

Against solid WorldTour competition at the Klasika Primavera de Amorebieta, where the podium consisted of Rui Costa (Movistar), Pablo Urtasun (Euskaltel-Euskadi) and Alberto Contador (Team Saxo-Tinkoff), Marsh Cooper would be the team's highest finisher at 2:11 down.

Eager to conclude their European trip on a high note, the team focused on winning a stage at the Vuelta a Castilla y Leon. The team's line-up included Ken Hanson, Jesse Anthony, Eric Young, Mike Friedman, Tom Soloday, Sebastian Salas, Marsh Cooper plus Alex Candelario, who flew to Spain just for the Vuelta a Castilla y Leon fresh off of helping Chad Haga place second overall at the Redlands Bicycle Classic.

The opening 194.8km stage concluded with an uphill finish where Hanson finished 11th in the sprint finale. "It was a really tough finish, and the guys were fantastic sheltering me through all of the crosswinds and into the final climb," said Hanson. "It's always tough to get that close in a finish like this, and I am always a little disappointed to miss out on a big result considering how much the guys sacrificed for me today. It was an uphill sprint which isn't ideal for my skill set, but we have two more days to battle and everyone is really motivated to get a podium before we head home."

Stage two's finale would be more favourable to Hanson and following a long breakaway, which the team's Marsh Cooper was able to join, the American Continental squad placed all bets on a stage win by the reigning US pro criterium champion, which they very nearly pulled off. Hanson would make the stage podium with a close third place result behind winner Juan Jose Lobato (Euskaltel-Euskadi) and runner-up Francesco Lasca (Caja Rural).

"Our lead-out once again preformed incredibly well today, delivering me in great position for the sprint," said Hanson. "It was a good finish for me despite the climb late in the stage, and I found myself well positioned on the final straightway. But unfortunately we missed out on the win today.

"However to finish third in a race like Castilla y Leon is a great sign, for some big races back stateside, that our lead-out is starting to really solidify. I can't wait to have another shot at it."

On the mountainous stage three finale to the Vuelta a Castilla y Leon, Marsh Cooper would be the team's top finisher, crossing the line 1:01 down on stage and overall general classification winner Ruben Plaza (Movistar), a two-time Spanish road champion.

With several wins and podiums in tow, the team is primed for upcoming races in the US, including the Joe Martin Stage Race, the SRAM Tour of the Gila and the Amgen Tour of California.