US-based Continental team Realcyclist.com added another stage race title to its team palmares after Francisco "Paco" Mancebo won the UCI 2.2-ranked Tour de Beauce on Sunday. The Spaniard won his fourth overall title this year and is hoping to notch another victory at the UCI 2.1-ranked Tour of Utah held in the team's title sponsors' stomping grounds in August.
"I am looking forward to racing Tour of Utah this year," Mancebo told Cyclingnews. "That race is the goal, it is important for our team and I would like to win there if I can."
Mancebo is a former Grand Tour contender who began racing in North America in 2009 for the now-defunct Rock Racing team. He has won a stage at the Amgen Tour of California along with the overall title at the Tour of Utah.
He is currently leading the USA Cycling National Racing Calendar (NRC) series. He started the season with a victory at the Redlands Bicycle Classic and went on to win the Sea Otter Classic, Tour of the Gila and most recently, the Tour de Beauce.
"This win was just as important as our other wins if not more important than Redlands or Gila," Team DS Gord Fraser told Cyclingnews. "It was a UCI race, Louis Garneau country, and it was important for me. We are chasing wins and trying to establish our program. We are trying to enter races that we can win. We don't have to be perfect for Paco, we just get him close and he does the rest because of his strength and experience."
Mancebo entered the Tour de Beauce as one of the race favourites along with defending champion Ben Day (Kenda/5-hour Energy), six-time Canadian national time trial champion, Svein Tuft (SpiderTech p/b C10) and Alex Howes (Chipotle Development) among several others.
The Spaniard rode into the decisive breakaway on stage one and moved into the overall race lead after winning the ‘queen' stage three atop Mont Megantic. He maintained his lead through the stage six finale with help from his teammates. "I'm happy to have this win today," Mancebo said at the podium presentation. "The team always had faith in me and they worked for me this whole race. This is sort of like a gift to them."
Mancebo is focused on winning the Tour of Utah next, a race he won in 2009 and placed second to Levi Leipheimer (RadioShack) last year. He recited an upcoming race schedule which will include the Boise Twilight Criterium, Cascade Cycling Classic, both held prior to Utah. The team is also hoping to receive an invitation to the USA Pro Cycling Challenge held in Colorado in late-August.
The team received a coveted invitation to the Tour of Utah last month. It is one of six Continental teams including Bissell, Kelly Benefit Strategies-OptumHealth, PureBlack Racing, Trek-Livestrong and Jamis-Sutter Home. ProTeam invitations included RadioShack, BMC Racing, Liquigas-Cannondale, HTC-Highroad and Garmin-Cervelo. Professional Continental teams include SpiderTech p/b C10, UnitedHealthcare, Team Type 1-Sanofi Aventis and Geox-TMC.
"We worked very hard to get that invitation to Utah," Fraser said. "That was our focus, to get into Utah and that is the whole reason why our team exists in the first place, because RealCyclist.com and BackCountry.com are in Salt Lake City. Utah was number one for us and we are hoping to get into Colorado, too. We've been showing that we belong at the best races in the US. We have a guy on a domestic team that can play with the big boys and I hope that bodes well for us to get that invitation."
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