Team Illuminate will be first US squad in Tour of Iran

Team Illuminate will continue overseas racing with a May trip to the Tour d'Azerbaidjan and the Tour of Iran, where they will be the first US team to compete.

Tour d'Azerbaidjan, which takes place May 4-8, is a four-day 2.1 race on the UCI Europe Tour, while the Tour of Iran from May 13-18 is a six-day 2.1 race on the UCI Asia Tour.

“The goal of our team is to show the power of the bicycle, and part of that is how cycling can connect people that might not meet otherwise - so traveling to races in Azerbaijan and Iran really falls in line with our team's mission," said team general manager Chris Johnson.

Both races should provide a good test for the US team that raced in Azerbaijan as Airgas-Safeway last year. Team Illuminate, which races in an all-black kit with no sponsor logos, started the season at the Tour of Taiwan, where the team scored podium stage finishes with Edwin Avila and Alexander Ray, then followed that race at the Redlands Bicycle Classic in California.

"We're bringing an incredibly strong teams to both races," Johnson said of the latest overseas trip. "We want to get results in order to earn invitations to other events this summer."

The team will have the services of Australian brothers Miles and Callum Scotson, both of whom recently won rainbow jerseys in the team pursuit at the track world championships in London. The Tour d'Azerbaidjan will be part of their build-up toward the Rio Olympic Games.

"After the world championships we took a short break and then started a one month camp," Miles Scotson said. "We spent a lot of time building our base on the road along with some track and gym. I've had my eyes set on Azarbaijan the last couple of weeks trying to get into excellent form, and I'm excited for my first road tour in over six months."

The Scotson brothers will be joined in the Tour d'Azerbaidjan by Avila, Ray, Griffin Easter and Scott Sunderland. Johnson said he could not yet confirm the roster for the Tour of Iran.

Easter said he was incredibly motivated for the upcoming trip.

"When we went to Taiwan in March it was a great opportunity to prove ourselves as a team," he said. "I'm looking at this trip in the same way - I can't wait."

The team will travel to Azerbaijan for the Tour d'Azerbaidjan next week, then fly the following week to the Iranian capital of Tehran, where they will spend a night before heading north to the start city of Tabriz.

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