When it comes to criterium racing, UnitedHealthcare seem to have found a winning formula. Jake Keough, Hilton Clarke and Robert Förster are all fast, but the real linchpin may well be Karl Menzies. The Australian has won plenty of races in his time, most recently in the Sandy Springs Challenge, but is more than happy riding in one of the key support roles going in to the TD Bank International Grand Prix.
"All year I've been up there; each win we've had has been a team effort but I think my skill set is more suited to leading out. As far as the team goes - that's been my role," Menzies told Cyclingnews. "We've all worked well together all season and hopefully that translates to another win on Sunday."
'Working well together' may well be an understatement. In May's Speedweek series the 'Blue Train' dominated. Ominously, the team has only bolstered its ranks for Sunday's race, bringing in a number of all rounders to give the team plenty of options.
"We've got a quality team here, some good sprinters and other types of riders. But in the last five years the race has come down to a bunch sprint. With that in mind, we're still focused heavily around our few good sprinters and lead-out train," commented Menzies.
If it does come down to the sprint the likely choices for the team will be in the forms of Keough and Förster. Both have shown their pedigree so far this season with a number of wins, but Menzies was cautious about pinning the team's hopes on any one person.
"[Keough and Förster] are our best sprinters, but in a race like this one anything can happen. We'll only know on the day how it transpires - whether it's the distance or [lack of] food or whatever. You just never know," he said.
One thing the Australian wasn't afraid of was the quality of this year's field. Top tier sprinters from a number of European teams will be attending including Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Cannondale), Leigh Howard (HTC-Highroad) and Jan Kirsipuu (Champion System), but according to Menzies that won't be changing the team's plans.
"Liquigas, HTC, Geox-TMC - they've all got a US presence so this race will be important to them. You're competing against some quality riders but for us our plan will stay the same, whether they're there or not. We'll set up and do our same lead-out. If it works out great, but if someone else is quicker than that's racing. Because it's a bigger race won't change how we do things."
Menzies will be taking a break after the TD Bank International in preparation for another big event.
"I've got a little daughter due in three weeks so that'll obviously be a priority."
The TD Bank International Grand Prix is on Sunday the 5th of June.
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Alex Hinds, Production Editor
Alex Hinds is a graduate of Economics and Political Science from Sydney University. Growing up in the metropolitan area of the city he quickly became a bike junkie, dabbling in mountain and road riding. Alex raced on the road in his late teens, but with the time demands of work and university proving too much, decided not to further pursue full-time riding.
If he was going to be involved in cycling in another way the media seemed the next best bet and jumped at the opportunity to work in the Sydney office of Cyclingnews when an offer arose in early 2011.
Though the WorldTour is of course a huge point of focus throughout the year, Alex also takes a keen interest in the domestic racing scene with a view to helping foster the careers of the next generation of cycling.
When not writing for Cyclingnews Alex is a strong proponent of the awareness of cyclists on the road in Sydney having had a few close run-ins with city traffic in the past.
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