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Gallery: UnitedHealthcare kicks off 2014 season with new energy

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The "blue train" gets lined up during a training ride

The "blue train" gets lined up during a training ride
(Image credit: Jonathan Devich/epicimages.us)
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Ben Day is back for another year with the team and ready to go after the wins

Ben Day is back for another year with the team and ready to go after the wins
(Image credit: Jonathan Devich/epicimages.us)
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Martijn Maaskant pulls off after taking a strong pull

Martijn Maaskant pulls off after taking a strong pull
(Image credit: Jonathan Devich/epicimages.us)
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Mike Tamayo talks about the season ahead after the team is introduced

Mike Tamayo talks about the season ahead after the team is introduced
(Image credit: Jonathan Devich/epicimages.us)
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Karl Menzies provides comic relief during the team presentation

Karl Menzies provides comic relief during the team presentation
(Image credit: Jonathan Devich/epicimages.us)
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The UHC "crit squad" squad gathers for the post-presentation party

The UHC "crit squad" squad gathers for the post-presentation party
(Image credit: Jonathan Devich/epicimages.us)
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The 2014 womens team dressed up for the evenings festivities

The 2014 womens team dressed up for the evenings festivities
(Image credit: Jonathan Devich/epicimages.us)
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Marc de Maar came straight to training camp after his strong ride in Argentina

Marc de Maar came straight to training camp after his strong ride in Argentina
(Image credit: Jonathan Devich/epicimages.us)
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Alison Powers rides along with Lucas Euser after the long flight from the Tour of San Luis

Alison Powers rides along with Lucas Euser after the long flight from the Tour of San Luis
(Image credit: Jonathan Devich/epicimages.us)
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Brad White and Jeff Louder lead out todays VIP ride

Brad White and Jeff Louder lead out todays VIP ride
(Image credit: Jonathan Devich/epicimages.us)
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Kiel Reijnan and Ken Hanson get in some hill training

Kiel Reijnan and Ken Hanson get in some hill training
(Image credit: Jonathan Devich/epicimages.us)
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Rushlee Buchanan gets aero in the Faster wind tunnel in Scottsdale

Rushlee Buchanan gets aero in the Faster wind tunnel in Scottsdale
(Image credit: Jonathan Devich/epicimages.us)
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Davide Frattini ready to roll out with a big smile

Davide Frattini ready to roll out with a big smile
(Image credit: Jonathan Devich/epicimages.us)
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Wilier is providing the road and TT bikes to this years UnitedHealthcare team

Wilier is providing the road and TT bikes to this years UnitedHealthcare team
(Image credit: Jonathan Devich/epicimages.us)
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Alison Powers sneaks a photo of her teammates

Alison Powers sneaks a photo of her teammates
(Image credit: Jonathan Devich/epicimages.us)
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Lauren Tamayo will be the road captain for the new UnitedHealthcare women’s team

Lauren Tamayo will be the road captain for the new UnitedHealthcare women’s team
(Image credit: Jonathan Devich/epicimages.us)
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The 2014 UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team

The 2014 UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team
(Image credit: Jonathan Devich/epicimages.us)
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The 2014 UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling women’s team

The 2014 UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling women’s team
(Image credit: Jonathan Devich/epicimages.us)
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A mechanic gets one of the new Wilier bikes ready for the day

A mechanic gets one of the new Wilier bikes ready for the day
(Image credit: Jonathan Devich/epicimages.us)
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Hannah Barnes comes to the team as the British Criterium National Champion

Hannah Barnes comes to the team as the British Criterium National Champion
(Image credit: Jonathan Devich/epicimages.us)
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The team heads out under the clear Arizona skies

The team heads out under the clear Arizona skies
(Image credit: Jonathan Devich/epicimages.us)
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Mike Tamayo talks about the season ahead after the team is introduced

Mike Tamayo talks about the season ahead after the team is introduced
(Image credit: Jonathan Devich/epicimages.us)

The UnitedHealthcare team has always been a tight-knit unit, and with 20 of last year's men continuing on and only three new riders for 2014 the team is relying on the new women's squad to bring in new energy and a fresh take on racing.

The team was presented to sponsors and other VIPs in Scottsdale, Arizona this week, with the theme of the night's activities centered around the debut of its promotional video, Path to the Podium.

Team manager Mike Tamayo enjoyed the red carpet roll-out, decked out in a suit that exactly matched the team's blue kit.

"It was a great night with a lot of new energy. We have a bunch of new sponsors - Wilier, Shimano, Vermarc, and the addition of our women's team added a fresh perspective."

The riders were marched out in their cycling kit and interviewed in front of the crowd. The women already claimed their first victories of the season with Rushlee Buchannan winning the New Zealand road title, and in the Tour Femenino de San Luis, where Hannah Barnes and Alison Powers each won a stage, and Powers took home the overall victory. With these successes behind them, they engaged in a little friendly competition, challenging the men to keep up.

"The women came into the season with a lot of pressure to live up to the standard set by the men in previous years," Tamayo said. "We go to every race to win. It was a little bit like, 'anything you can do, we can do better'. It's a fun competition between the teams."

The men had a good result in the Tour de San Luis, where Marc de Maar made the winning breakaway on the opening stage and was in third overall for several days before ultimately ending up seventh overall.

"It was our best Tour de San Luis ever," Tamayo said. "To have Lucas Euser fifth on a mountain stage, and two in the top 15 overall shows that our team is well-rounded, and deeper than ever."

The focus of the team will swing toward the men for the next month, as they head to the Tours of Qatar and Oman, while another squad tackles the Herald Sun Tour and Tour de Langkawi. The women will resume in March for the Vuelta el Salvador, but will not head to Europe for the Classics. Instead, the team will focus on the National Racing Calendar - beginning with the Redlands Classic, before hitting their big target, the Giro Donne, where Mara Abbott will seek to defend her crown.

For the Tour of Qatar, the men's team will be represented by Robert Forster, Alessandro Bazzana, Kiel Reijnen, John Murphy, Aldo Ilesic, Martijn Maaskant, Chris Jones and Ken Hanson. For Oman, Jones and Hanson will be replaced by Lucas Euser and Marc de Maar, the team's top two performers at last month's Tour de San Luis.

In the Sun Tour, UnitedHealthcare will field Karl Menzies, Jeff Louder, Ben Day, Davide Frattini, Brad White and Adrian Hegyvary.

Although the team was denied invitations to the Tour de France and Giro d'Italia, Tamayo says they are not ruling out a Grand Tour this year, as they still have a bid in for the Vuelta a España, but they will also be happy to focus on the bigger one-day races in Europe.

The team was invited to Milan-Sanremo, the Driedaagse De Panne-Koksijde, E3 Harelbeke and Dwars door Vlaanderen, and now with Maaskant, Tamayo thinks the team can go from racing for top finishes to genuinely contending for the podium.

The team will also focus on the American stage races: Tour of California, USA Pro Challenge, Tour of Utah, as well as the US Pro Championships in Chattanooga.

"That one slipped away from us last year, so we're really going to be gunning for it."