Mike Tamayo has stepped down from his position as general manager and director of the UnitedHealthcare Professional Continental men's and UCI women's programs after 11 seasons contracted with the team's owners and operators, Momentum Sports Group. Tamayo told Cyclingnews that he has been gradually moving away from the sport but felt that December was the best time to announce his departure, ahead of the 2018 season.
"It's not an easy decision to make, to walk away from an organisation that I've been part of for a long time, that I helped build, and after accomplishing everything that we've accomplished," Tamayo told Cyclingnews.
"Over the years, I kept moving the finish line to reach new goals and I feel like I’ve crossed a lot of those finish lines, met a lot of my goals. I want to take a step away for a moment, catch my breath, look back, and appreciate what I've been able to accomplish."
UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling originated from the former HealthNet Cycling team, which was launched by Momentum Sports Group in 2003. After six seasons of running the UCI women's team Victory Brewing, Tamayo took a job as HealthNet Cycling's assistant director in 2007.
The team re-organised into OUCH presented by Maxxis in 2009 and then as UnitedHealthcare in 2010. The team upgraded to Professional Continental status the following year. They launched the UCI women's team in 2014.
"I will not be replaced. The directors we have are driven. Rachel Heal, on the women's side, is focussed, and Sebastian Alexandre and Hendrik Redant are learning how to work more and more together on the men's team," said Tamayo, who believes the team will thrive in 2018.
Outside of the teams, Tamayo has acted as a consultant to many of the US event promoters, including Tour of the Gila in becoming a UCI-sacntioned event, federations like USA Cycling on their men's and women's professional road calendars, and to riders during their athletic pursuits and post-cycling business ventures. He has offered support to both men's and women's cycling and from the grassroots and community level up to the professional level.
"I'll definitely reflect on the great organizations I've worked with over the years, the great people, riders and talent inside the sport," Tamayo said. "I've spent my career trying to help the sport grow. It's neat to think that maybe there is a little piece of my business mentorship in it. It's exciting to be part of that, even in a small way. I hope to watch the sport continue to grow."
UnitedHealthcare bid farewell to Tamayo in a team press release, wishing him luck in his next endeavours.
"After eleven years with Momentum Sports Group, Mike Tamayo is leaving the organization to pursue other ventures. We wish him the best of luck, and thank him for his hard work over the years. We wish you well, Mike, thanks for the ride!"
Thierry Attias, president of Momentum Sports Group, told Cyclingnews that UnitedHealthcare's title sponsorship is intact through the end of the 2018 season.
"The UnitedHealthcare Professional Cycling Team's position is secure through the 2018 season. We have had, and continue to have a productive and collaborative relationship with our title sponsor - UnitedHealthcare and all our other partners. We are excited to bring on new talent for 2018 like Sergei Tvetcov and Eric Marcotte, and will be eager to put the rubber to the road in the coming season."
Men's team sign Velazquez, kick off season at Tour of San Juan
In 2018, they will have three directors; Sebastian Alexandre and Hendrik Redant as sporting directors for the men’s program, and Rachel Heal as sporting director for the women’s program.
Newest member Velazquez is a 25-year-old track specialist from Argentina. Alexandre, who is from Argentina, is known for recognizing young cycling talent from his country and providing them with opportunities to compete in the US.
Velazquez previously raced with Tusnad Cycling Team and is the 2017 Pan-American champion in the Scratch Race, capturing the gold medal earlier this year. UnitedHealthcare also hired Marcotte (from Cylance), a former US road champion, and Tvetcov (from Jelly Belly), who was second at the Colorado Classic and Tour of the Gila, and third in Tour of Utah.
"I am really happy with the additions to the team this year, we have three completely different riders to finish out a strong program," Alexandre said.
"The idea was to retain the core of the 2017 team, as we mostly built a new squad, but it takes an all around team to get all the pieces to work together. I believe that while we had a really good season in 2017, the best is yet to come."
UnitedHealthcare will arrive for a training camp in Medellin, Colombia in January. They will open their racing season at the Tour of San Juan in Argentina followed by the Vuelta Colombia Oro y Paz. They will also make appearances in European events: GP Samyn, Johan Museeuw Classic and Ronde Van Drenthe. The team will return to compete in the US in April.
"Looking at the 2018 calendar we are excited to do a big block of international racing early in the season, and then arrive back in the US in April focused and ready for major stage races," Alexandre said.
UnitedHealthcare 2018 men’s roster: Janier Acevedo, Carlos Alzate, Alex Cataford, Jonny Clarke, Daniel Eaton, Sebastian Haedo, Adrian Hegyvary, Daniel Jaramillo, Luke Keough, Gavin Mannion, Eric Marcotte, Travis McCabe, Lachlan Norris, Tanner Putt, Serghei Tvetcov and Hugo Velazquez.
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