Optum Pro Cycling signs new title sponsor, will race 10th season as Rally Cycling

Optum Pro Cycling will return for a 10th season in the US peloton as Rally Cycling after signing a multi-year deal with a new title sponsor that will allow the Continental team to expand its program.

New title sponsor Rally Health works with insurers and employee groups to provide incentives and rewards to people who complete health surveys and fulfil "missions" like improved diets or increased exercise. Members can also complete in challenges with the help of online tracking services like Strava. The digital health company also offers ways for individuals to navigate the healthcare system and get access to care.

Charles Aaron, managing director of Circuit Sports, which owns and manages the US Continental team, said Rally Health's mission is a perfect fit for the team.

"This is a health and wellness platform," Aaron told Cyclingnews. "This can empower people to get out – whether it's on the bike, running, walking or whatever – and to be accountable for one's health."

Rally Health President and CEO David Ko said his company is excited to partner with the team this year and into the future.

"Cycling is a fantastic way to improve one's health, both for lifestyle enthusiasts and professionals," Ko said in a statement released by the team. "We are inspired by these athletes and know their stories will help motivate Rally users to stay active. … The team embodies the Rally Health mission and, together, we want to inspire people to be active and make better, more informed decisions about their health."

The team began in 2007 as Kelly Benefit Strategies, winning the US Pro criterium championship in its first season on the road. Since then its riders have taken more than 260 wins and 550 podiums, adding a women's team to the line up in 2012.

The men's team has taken high-profile wins at the Tour of California and the Tour of Utah, podiums at the USA Pro Challenge and Tour of Alberta, along with multiple Tour of California King of the Mountain jerseys. The team has also won its hometown race, the North Star Grand Prix, for five consecutive years.

At the international level, the team took an historic podium at La Course by Le Tour de France and a fourth place at the women's UCI World Team Time Trial Championships in 2014. The team has also found success abroad with wins in Canada, the Czech Republic, France, Korea, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, the Philippines, Portugal, Spain, Thailand and Uruguay.

For 2016 the men's team has added former WorldTour riders Danny Pate and Evan Huffman, along with Rob Britton, Adam de Vos, Shane Kline and Emerson Oronte. Returning riders include Jesse Anthony, Brad Huff, Pierrick Naud, Will Routely, Bjorn Selander, Tom Soladay, Curtis White, Eric Young and Tom Zirbel.

The 2016 women's team includes Erica Allar, Elle Anderson, Heather Fischer, Jasmin Glaesser, Kirsti Vivian Lay, Katherine Maine, Sara Poidevin, Jessica Prinner, Hannah Ross and Emma White.

The men will be led in 2016 by directors Jonas Carney, Eric Wohlberg and former women's team director Patrick McCarty. Newly retired pro Zach Bell will take the helm of the women's team this year.

Carney told Cyclingnews the new sponsorship with Rally Health will not bring much change the team's race schedule or objectives.

"Our main focus will still be California, Colorado, Utah and Alberta and also events like the US pro championships and Philadelphia," Carney said. "We will likely do a bit more in Europe, but our objectives will not change very much."

Team Manager Jacob Erker said the team's goals will continue to align with its partners' best interests.

"We have selected a domestic and international schedule that works with Rally's market presence and goals, and as that develops over time, we may expand into those areas as well," Erker said. "Above all, we continue to be a health and wellness driven platform that performs at a very high level in professional cycling while promoting out partner's health and wellness key messages."

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