Leah Kirchmann, Canada’s triple national champion in the road race, time trial and criterium, has re-signed with the American-based team Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies for the 2015 season. The all-rounder will lead the team at events in both North America and overseas but is once again targeting the national championships.
“I’m excited to be returning to race with Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies,” Kirchmann told Cyclingnews. “It’s a great program that provides me with everything I need to be a successful cyclist - great equipment sponsors, awesome teammates and a professional organisation at the races.”
Kirchmann had her strongest season to date where along with her triple national titles she also won the Delta Road Race and placed third at the inaugural La Course by Le Tour de France.
Next year, she plans on defending her national titles and working with her team to prepare for a strong performance in the team time trial at the World Championships in Richmond, Virginia.
“A national championship defence will definitely be a goal for the season,” she said. “The team time trial World Championships in Richmond this year will also be a major goal for the team. We were so close in Ponferrada, after placing fourth by seven seconds, that a medal performance is within reach if we continue to build towards that goal.”
Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies will target races in North America next year and will again travel to some of the bigger races overseas such as the Women’s Tour of Britain, where it won the overall team competition this year, and La Course by Le Tour de France.
“I enjoy getting the opportunity to compete in both styles of racing through out the season,” Kirchmann said.
After the success of the inaugural La Course, organisers of the Vuelta a España announced a new race for women, USA Pro Challenge will offer a multi-day race for women and the Tour of California expanded to offer four days of racing for the women’s field.
“It’s awesome to see so many races, like the Vuelta and numerous North American races stepping up to add and expand their women’s races,” Kirchmann said. “I think that organisers are realizing the value that women’s cycling can bring to their races. I hope we continue to see the momentum build.”
Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies announced it's full 10-rider roster for 2015 earlier this week.
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Kirsten Frattini is an honours graduate of Kinesiology and Health Science from York University in Toronto, Canada. She has been involved in cycling from the community and grassroots level to professional cycling's WorldTour. She has worked in both print and digital publishing, and started with Cyclingnews as a North American Correspondent in 2006. Moving into a Production Editor's role in 2014, she produces and publishes international race coverage for all men's and women's races including Spring Classics, Grand Tours, World Championships and Olympic Games, and writes and edits news and features. As the Women's Editor at Cyclingnews, Kirsten also coordinates and oversees the global coverage of races, news, features and podcasts about women's professional cycling.