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North American teams take on Vuelta Ciclista al Uruguay

It was anyone's guess on the line but Martin Gilbert (Kelly Benefit Strategies)

It was anyone's guess on the line but Martin Gilbert (Kelly Benefit Strategies) (Image credit: Jon Devich)

Kelly Benefit Strategies, SpiderTech p/b Planet Energy and Aerocat are taking advantage of some down time in their national racing series to participate in the UCI 2.2 Vuelta Ciclista al Uruguay's 10-day stage race that kicked off on March 26.

Kelley Benefit Strategies brought last year's overall winner Scott Zwizanski who hopes to defend his title before the conclusion of the race in Montevideo on Sunday, April 4.

"At the moment, we are fourth and ninth overall in Uruguay and first in the team GC with three long stages to go," said Directeur Sportif Jonas Carney. "So far we have not been as successful as we were last year, but the race is not over yet."

Kelly Benefit Strategies, SpiderTech p/b Planet Energy and Aerocat have all placed inside the top 10 in stages throughout the race this week. Defending Champion, Scott Zwizanski rode into a second place in the stage seven 35.5 km time trial. His teammate Jesse Anthony placed fifth in the stage two road race.

"Our guys did not time trial as fast as we expected or the guys from Uruguay went a lot faster than we expected, not sure which," Carney said.

KBS divided its team amongst the Vuelta Ciclista al Uruguay and the Princess Mamackakri Sirindhon's Cup Tour of Thailand. Both are UCI 2.2 events.

"Last year we won the team GC and overall in Thailand," Carney said. "We also won the overall in Uruguay in addition to five stages. It was a great experience for our team. Everything just clicked for us in both races last year. These international UCI races suit our teams capabilities and style. Especially the 2.2 races. The rosters are only five to six guys and so the racing tends to be super aggressive and dynamic. It's a lot different from racing NRC stage races in the US."

Bauer predicted SpiderTech stage win

SpiderTech's Directeur Sportif Steve Bauer was banking on his team's ability to pull off a stage win this week. It was Martin Gilbert who took that victory in a stage eight field sprint.

"Guillaume Boivin, Martin Gilbert, Keven Lacombe and Simon Lambert-Lemay are likely the strongest sprint foursome in the bunch here, however, they haven't been able to get their lead-out timing and distance correct," said Bauer who predicted an imminent stage win the day before. "The boys are fit but the mistakes they're making is keeping them out of the stage win that we are expecting. Maybe we're trying too hard. It will come in the next day or two"

Other notable performances so far include Guillaume Boivin who sprinted into a third place during stage four road race and Aerocat Cycling Team's Emile Abraham placed sixth in stage five.

Bauer noted that his team experienced a bout of injury and illness before the start of the Vuelta Ciclista al Uruguay. He lost Ryan Roth due to a knee injury and Andrew Randell to a stomach virus.

"We have decided to focus on winning stages with our core sprint team but missing one strong man in Andrew Randell makes it tougher," Bauer said. "Adding to this, Lacombe developed severe conjunctivitis in one eye and has trouble with his vision, not ideal for a sprinter. Even with tough breaks our team is focused and working hard."

There are two stages to go before the Vuelta Ciclista al Uruguay concludes on Sunday, April 4.